Politico has confirmed that Rahm Emanuel has officially accepted the Chief of Staff position in Barack Obamaâ€™s administration.
Emanuel is an obvious choice. Heâ€™s already close to Obama. He has White House experience. And he is known for his toughness and discipline, something Obama clearly values. Emanuel will run a tight ship.
Of course, on the negative side, the guy is as slick as oil. Heâ€™s a consummate political insider, a smooth operator whose calculating intellect and willingness to be combative has helped resurrect the Democrats over the last six years.
As Chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, he had the forethought to recruit more centrist-leaning candidates to challenge Republicans in vulnerable districts. He also helped develop and execute the devastatingly effective campaign strategy of linking every Republican to the failures of Bush without regard to the culpability of any particular Republican. His strategies worked and it was widely assumed Emanuel was next in line for Speaker of the House.
When it comes to policy, Emanuel is not a committed leftist. He is best described as an opportunistic pragmatist. He knows how to win and will make sure Obama fights political battles from positions of strength. He wonâ€™t hesitate to put his boot on the necks of political opponents, if thatâ€™s whatâ€™s needed. But neither will he avoid diplomatic gestures, if he believes thatâ€™s a clearer path to victory.
In short, he is a player. He is in no way a â€œchangeâ€ appointment in the larger context of reforming the way Washington works. But he is part of a new generation of Democrats. While was on President Clintonâ€™s staff, I have a feeling that Emanuel will run his crew with much greater discipline and commitment to objectives than we ever saw from Clintonâ€™s people. Heâ€™s a solid choice for Obama. Whether heâ€™s good for the rest of us remains to be seen.
Fun factoid: The West Wing character of Josh Lyman was loosely based on Rahm Emanuel.