We've all heard the story. At a dinner to celebrate President Clinton's 1992 electoral victory, Rahm Emanuel named each person who had crossed the Clinton campaign and plunged a knife into the table while shouting, "Dead! Dead! Dead!"
Where has that Mr. Emanuel been since becoming President Obama's chief of staff? Better yet, why are the media so scared of the angry, cursing, screaming Mr. Rahm, the one who resembles Jeremy Piven's impersonation of his brother in the HBO series "Entourage"? Why is anyone scared of that Mr. Rahm?
We were led to believe that Mr. Obama and his team would act swiftly to pass comprehensive reform in a number of areas and that no one could stand in their way. Instead, grass roots Americans stood up, made their voices heard and, in so doing, may have dismantled the "real" public option before the White House had a chance to draft any health care language of its own and certainly well before members of Congress could cast any votes on the matter.
If Mr. Emanuel is such a Machiavellian master of congressional inside ball, why did he fail to warn, or at least to prepare, Mr. Obama for the possibility that there might not be sufficient support for the public option inside his own party? As White House chief of staff, Mr. Emanuel is supposed to manage the president's agenda. Part of his job is to oversee important policy initiatives -- not to intimidate and divide.
It's clear that no one should be scared of Mr. Emanuel. Like his boss, he is tasting massive political failure for the first time. A congressional pro should not be squandering the majorities that Mr. Obama has at his disposal in the Senate and House of Representatives.
The president should stick a fork (or knife) in Mr. Emanuel. It looks as if he's done (or at least should be).
Director of international operations
American Center for Law & Justice