A growing number of political insiders in Washington believe embattled White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel is orchestrating a calculated campaign of press leaks and planted stories to save his job and restore his power inside the West Wing.
For two weeks, stories and opinion columns have suggested President Barack Obama’s falling approval ratings, stalled legislative agenda and other political problems could have been avoided if he had only listened to his bombastic chief of staff.
The campaign started with a column by Dana Milbank of The Washington Post. Milbank said Obama’s first year in office “fell apart in large part because he didn’t follow his chief of staff’s advice on crucial matters.”
Obama’s problems, Milbank said, are caused by a cadre of “yes men” who praise his every move, leaving the blunt-talking Emanuel as the sole — but ignored — voice of reason.
That might have been it had the Post not followed up Milbank’s opinion piece a week later with a front-page news story quoting Democrats saying the same thing.
Some insiders feel Emanuel, a former Congressman and longtime political operative, used his contacts on the Hill to orchestrate the comments from former colleagues on the Hill.
“Rahm’s an operator, there’s no doubt about that,” says one Democratic strategist. “This kind of campaign is straight out of his political playbook.”
White House insiders say Obama, who has quick temper behind closed doors, is privately furious with his chief of staff while ordering Press Secretary Robert Gibbs to show public support for Emanuel.
Obama, insiders say, is worried that the distraction comes at a critical time in his Presidency and suggest he may have to dump his top staff member before he becomes more of an embarrassment.
- Steve Clemons: Popping the Washington Post’s Rahm Bubble (huffingtonpost.com)
- Is Obama Still Listening to Rahm? (politicalwire.com)
- Rahm Emanuel: Saboteur Of Hope And Change (huffingtonpost.com)
- It Would All Have Been Fine if Anyone Had Listened to Rahm Emanuel [Rahmance] (gawker.com)