Saturday, October 02, 2010

Bye-bye, Rahm -- write if you get work, and don't worry, there's no shortage of Village weasels left to carry on your mission


For a couple of hours this morning, White House spokesninny Robert "Ooh, I Hate That Professional Left So-o-o Much" Gibbs was destined to become, er, the new Tim Kaine.

by Ken

So Master Rahm is gone. From the White House, anyway. And apparently unmourned, except insofar as he now serves as a convenient scapegoat for anyone left behind who feels the need for one. (Witness David Axelrod's astonishing rewrite of history reported by The New Republic's Noam Scheiber as "the disillusionment of Obama's guru.") This is, of course, in perfect accord with one of the basic operating principles of modern-day fake-centrist right-wing Dems:

"Devote all your energies to serving the People Who Really Matter with gutlessness and freedom from principle. Just be sure to have a bus lined up, and at least one well-enough-placed schmuck to throw under it, if the heat falls on you."

It does appear that in the end our Rahm was kind of pushed out of the White House, I assume because once it became a Village fact-on-the-ground that he was on his way out to pursue the Chicago mayoralty, he lost a lot of his magic powers. He was, in a word, history. Now, as I've already noted, we can only hope that the good people of Chicago are sensible enough to look at the astonishing swarm of candidates seeking to replace what we have to hope is the city's last Mayor Daley and say to Rahm, "Nuh-uh, we don't think so."

The thing about Rahm is not just that he's evil, though he is, but that even the things he claims to be good at, like hard-nosed politics, or getting things done, he sucks at. I'm astonished to be hearing people talking about the "toughness" he is imagined to have brought to Democrats, when the guy is scared of his shadow when it comes to mixing it up with anyone who isn't weaker than he is, and has never fought any Republican half as hard as he does every Democrat to the left of, say, Joe Lieberman.

Yesterday on NPR's Morning Edition Mara Liasson was paying teary tribute to Master Rahm for being "prescient" in warning the president of the political risk of staking so much political capital on health care, but of course no one is more responsible than Master Rahm for the crappiness of the crap that was finally passed, with its unapologetic kowtowing to the giant corporate interests that would have suffered from real health care reform. It was the Master, after all, who toiled so tirelessly to mow down opposition within his party with the argument that all they had to do for political salvation was pass a bill, any bill. Was that more of Master Rahm's "prescience," Mara?

(Side note: If I know all of this, how does it happen that Mara doesn't? I don't know whether she's too ignorant or too corrupt to be a political correspondent, but one way or the other shouldn't she be quitting in abject disgrace?)

Again, Master Rahm likes to pass himself off as a political genius, when there's no evidence that he knows any techniques of political operation beyond: (a) pandering to voter apathy and ignorance and (b) behaving like an authoritarian sleazebag who lines his own pockets in the service of corporate masters while abusing the political little people. These are both, in their different ways, correct political expressions. But if they represent the sum total of your political acumen, you aren't fit to lick Karl Rove's shoes.

As we've pointed out so often here at DWT, Rahm had very little to do with the Dems retaking the House. To the extent that he succeeded in putting nominal-Dem fannies in House seats, these are the very people who are Exhibit A anytime the party's House leadership "doesn't have the votes" to enact legislation that would be genuinely beneficial to non-elite Americans. And with the progressives who found their way into Congress, usually not just without his help but with his active opposition, he used all the powers of leaderly strong-arming to spinectomize. He can smell political principle and especially independence a mile off, and do whatever he has to to stamp it out. My guess is that there isn't any Republican who hates Alan Grayson half as much as Rahm does.

Meanwhile back in the White House, a lot of my progressive colleagues have been trying frantically to find out more about Pete Rouse, Master Rahm's apparently interim replacement as chief of staff. I've heard some moderately good things about him, but I can't imagine that'll make any substantive difference, because Rahmism is bigger than Rahm -- no evidence suggests that his counsel was anything other than what the president wanted to hear. And the White House woodwork is crawling with Rahmistas.

Those "senior officials" in the administration may already have forgotten Rahm's name, but the spirit lives, as does the rank political ineptitude. This morning, for example, for a couple of hours White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs was more or less signed, sealed, and delivered to replace Tim Kaine as chair of the DNC, at least according to Politico's Mike Allen and Josh Gerstein, in an online "exclusive" posted this morning.

Now if you say that Politico is a dreadful source of information, I couldn't agree more. The thing is Allen and Gerstein, Village hacks though they may be, didn't make this story up. Like most of the drivel their rag circulates, it was fed to them. So the obvious question is, who planted the story? And then the question is: why?

If it was a trial balloon, apparently didn't float. The Politico "exclusive" was posted at 9:41am ET, and by 1:15pm the Washington Post's Philip Rucker and Anne Kornblut had posted: "Gibbs unlikely to become DNC chair, White House says." It seems everybody in the White House (and on a Saturday!), including Gibbs, was denying all.

Well, not denying all. According to Rucker and Kornblut, "Senior administration and Democratic officials" -- presumably not to be confused with the "senior officials" who had earlier been whispering in Politico's ears -- "sought to squelch the report, saying the idea may have been put out as a trial balloon but that there was no real plan underway."

Now "there was no real plan underway" leaves lots of weasel room, and no modern White House ever seems to have a shortage of weasels. Well, yes, admitted one anonymous WaPo source(once again, this silliness could be whistled dead if the media political whores would stop granting anonymity to every Village ax-grinder peddling a "scoop"), maybe the Gibbs-to-DNC idea has been discussed informally, but not in any high-level meetings. Another senior anonym allows that maybe the idea has been talked about "vaguely," but it's "not currently under active consideration."

At least not since the trial balloon, if that's what it was, burst. The best clue to what such a trial balloon might have been about is this from the Politico scoop: "Donors’ response has been positive, according to people who have been consulted." (Quick: Can anyone count how many layers of anonymity are embedded in that, er, report?)

So the point of fascination remains: Who in the administration political apparatus thinks putting Robert Gibbs in charge of the Democratic Party political operation would be a good idea? Or even an idea worth discussing? As Alan Grayson set forth so cogently some weeks ago ("Gibbs should not resign, he should be fired"), it would be difficult to imagine a more hideously inept job of client representation than Gibbs's. Pretty much every word out of his mouth has seemed perfectly crafted to be used by the Republican obstructionist opposition to trounce, ridiculed, demonize, and otherwise tear the administration to shreds.

However, like other people who have the president's ear, Gibbs seems to have no trouble articulating his loathing for the "professional left," by which they appear to understand the people who have been warning since the administration's panoply of "Bush lite" (and often not-so-lite) policies became clear that they would likely have the effect on the public's perception that they have in fact had.

It's one thing to have to face the political consequences for standing on principle. But when you sneer at pols who have even a shred of principle and still take a political clobbering, well, isn't there something wrong with this picture?

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At 8:12 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'll tell you about Mara Liasson, all right. I heard her more than a few times during the months of run-up to the crappy healthcare bill's passing. She was engaged in outright and aggressive unfiltered proactive right-wing corporate-favored propagandizing - in that oh-so-obnoxious posturing phony N.P.R. (Not Progressive Really) holier-than-thou voice - saying how "the American people" don't want universal health care, that "the American people" don't want a government-run health care system, that "the American people" love the health care system as it is, that it's the best healthcare system, not only in the world, but the best healthcare system possible. Google her name on

She's a big-time corrupt corporate plant in the heart of the public airwaves, moreso than even the N.P.R. as a whole, which leans so far rightward they can't stand up straight any more. That's who Mara Liasson is. Oh, and I almost forgot to mention that she's a Republican and a Fox News regular. Surprise!!

- L. Piltz

At 9:27 PM, Blogger KenInNY said...

Not a Mara fan, eh, LP? Me either.


At 5:58 AM, Anonymous me said...

[Emanuel] has never fought any Republican half as hard as he does every Democrat to the left of, say, Joe Lieberman

That about sums him up.

I wish this means that Obama has seen the light. The problem is, it would have been far easier for him to do it right if he had started in January 2009, when he enjoyed support even from rank-and-file republicans, than it will be now. At this point, both sides dislike and distrust him, and it might be too late.

Not that I expect him to try anyway, because I haven't heard anything different coming from him. If anything, he's getting worse. But I can always Hope[tm].

At 6:05 AM, Anonymous me said...

Re Mara Liasson (perhaps not as bad as Kooky Roberts, no longer there), I remember reading a few years ago about their plans to corporatize NPR. Repubs were going to force them to become conservative on pain of losing their funding.

Unlike Dems, repubs do what they say they will do. Remember after Watergate when they said they were going after the Washington Post? Now look at it. Fishwrap.

Back in the 1980's, they started their campaign to "defund the Left". Does no one but me remember that? It seems to have been spectacularly successful.

Too bad conservatives are only good at mischief, rather than running the country.

At 8:46 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Gawd, Obama is such a fuck up. Who care's if the GOP crazies take over the Congress and ruins the country. I'm too old and won't be around when the full impact of climate change hits the Earth, and I don't have any kids. So I think I'll just teach those Democrats a lesson and stay home and note vote.

At 10:13 AM, Anonymous me said...

Anon, thanks for the slimy smear, you asshole.

No, I'm not going to "not vote". But neither will I fall yet again for the good cop, bad cop routine the Demublicans and Republicrats have been pulling for decades.

I won't take part in that charade any longer. I'll vote all right. But only for candidates I actually like, who demonstrate that they will do what I want them to do.

Perhaps that concept is foreign to you. No doubt it's foreign to most people in this country. That is the fault of people like you.


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