A New York Times article published a little over a year ago suggested that Rahm Emanuel was “emerging as perhaps the most influential White House chief of staff in a generation.”
The article asserted that
As the principal author of Mr. Obama’s do-everything-at-once strategy, he stands to become a figure of consequence in his own right if the administration stabilizes the economy and financial markets, overhauls the health care system and winds down one war while successfully prosecuting another.
If things do not go well — and right now Mr. Obama’s political popularity is declining, his health care legislation is under conservative assault, the budget deficit is at an eye-popping level and Afghanistan remains volatile — it is Mr. Emanuel whose job will be on the line before Mr. Obama’s.
A year later, comprehensive health care legislation has passed and become law, the war in Iraq has been scaled back, operations in Afghanistan have done the opposite, and the economy has stopped its decline. Oh, and Rahm Emanuel is stepping down. Was The New York Times right in suggesting that these policies could risk Emanuel’s job before Obama’s?
Perhaps, but we may never know. The electorate hasn’t backlashed against Emanuel — not that a president’s chief of staff gets elected directly by the people — but neither has Obama. Emanuel stepping down was not a result of Obama’s feelings towards him. Actually, Obama doesn’t seem to want him gone. A few days ago, he had this to say about Emanuel:
I knew that I needed somebody at my side who I could count on day and night to get the job done. [Emanuel] brings an unmatched level of energy and enthusiasm and commitment to every single thing that he does … [He] has exceeded all of my expectations … I will miss him dearly.
Rahm isn’t stepping down because his job is in danger. Apparently, he has a race to win. If things go well for Emanuel, he may be Chicago’s next mayor.
Well, if a backlash didn’t cost Emanuel his job, can we assume the opposite, that all the changes made in the past two years have been taken well? Not quite. Much of the population doesn’t seem knowledgeable, noticeable or appreciative of the benefits of the White House’s accomplishments. Some claim that the economy can’t be stabilizing with unemployment still high, even though those who have declared that the recession is over have said:
Unemployment usually keeps rising well after a recession ends. Four months after the 2007 downturn ended, unemployment spiked to 10.1 percent in October 2009, which was the highest in just over a quarter-century. Some economists believe that marked the high point in joblessness. But others think it could climb higher – perhaps hitting 10.3 percent by early next year.
After the 2001 recession, for instance, unemployment didn’t peak until June 2003 – 19 months later.”
There remains animosity towards the health care legislation, even though most of its effects won’t kick in until 2014. Present increases in health care would have taken place regardless.
Hopefully, for Democrats, the electorate will become more aware or accepting of these facts in time for the mid-term elections. Or, if the Democrats receive the feared trouncing in November, then the White House can hope that come 2012 the electorate will be blaming Republicans again for their problems. Either way, it won’t be Emanuel’s concern. He has new fish to fry.