Adventures in British Newspapering


Bill Clinton and Ronald Reagan each had four chiefs of staff during the course of their eight years in office, and George H.W. Bush had three in a single term, so consequently I wouldn’t find it shocking if Rahm Emanuel steps down sometime after the midterms—it’d be in line with historical norms rather than Andy Card’s iron man precedent in the early Bush years. But you won’t find much in the way of real evidence for the thesis of Alex Spillius’s Daily Telegraph article “Rahm Emanuel expected to quit White House”. Instead you seem to have one anonymous source who there’s no reason to believe has inside information.

My favorite part, though, is that the source in question delivers quotes like he’s a native speaker of British English rather than an American:

“It might not be his fault, but the perception is there,” said the consultant, who asked not to be named. “Every vote has been tough, from health care to energy to financial reform.”

“Democrats have not stood behind the president in the way Republicans did for George W Bush, and that was meant to be Rahm’s job.”

And I suppose you could make the case that this was supposed to be Rahm’s job and it hasn’t gone as smoothly as one might hope. Then again, if you compare the Obama administration’s record of garnering support from congressional Democrats to what we saw during Jimmy Carter’s term or during the years 1993-94, I think Team Obama looks quite good. Ultimately, though, I think it’s a mistake to place too much agency here on the White House staff. The Republicans who marched in lockstep with the Bush administration did so of their own volition because that’s what they wanted to do. Back in the early years as you’ll recall, John McCain was bitter about losing the primary and bucked the party on all kinds of things but few other Senators shared his view. Then later he changed his mind and decided he wanted to be an orthodox conservative. Senate Democrats just seem to have a greater objective diversity of policy preferences than you see in the GOP caucus.