Unrest in Democratic Party plays out in Emanuel controversy

Sam Youngman
The Hill

White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel has become a reluctant central figure in the battle between liberals and centrists in the Democratic Party.

A spate of recent reports have portrayed Emanuel, known for his aggressive brand of Washington politics, as either the voice of reason in a weak, liberal White House or the wet blanket preventing President Barack Obama from pursuing the kind of change he promised as a candidate.

Emanuel has become the flash point in those arguments as liberals express betrayal over Obama’s failure to convince Congress to pass a public option in healthcare reform and close the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

In recent stories and columns in The Washington Post, Emanuel is described as a political pragmatist, pushing Obama to accept realistic limitations on both issues in order to secure smaller victories over abject failures. Or as the Post’s Dana Milbank put it, Emanuel is “the only person keeping Obama from becoming Jimmy Carter.”…

…Some of those efforts to weaken Emanuel are coming from inside the building at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, one Democratic strategist said.

“There are people in the White House who are trying to get rid of Rahm, and they are leaking everything they can,” said the strategist, who is close to Emanuel. “Some of it’s personal, some of it’s professional[ly] judgmental, but there is no doubt there’s an effort.”

Those critics think Emanuel is “too close to the Blue Dogs in the House and too ready to compromise.”

But what Rahm represents to the left dates back to liberal anger with Clinton and his kindred spirits at the centrist Democratic Leadership Council (DLC). Emanuel is seen by some progressives as wanting to win, to a fault by sacrificing principles of the party.

“Rahm believes in being elected; not in the glory of losing or failing,” the strategist said…

The article continues at The Hill.

See also Michael Moore’s comments in his open letter to the White House via The Hill: “Democrats are ‘going to get an ass-whoopin’ of Biblical proportions’ “

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