The business section of yesterday’s New York Times included advice to President-elect Obama from a number of econ-types. Greg Mankiw, for example, exhorted Obama to heed the advice of his (quite capable) economic advisers and, in essence, govern from the center. I would concur.
Accordingly, I was pleased to see Obama name Rep. Rahm Emanuel as his Chief of Staff. Lots of my conservative friends were immediately critical of the choice. “Rahmbo,” as he is known, is famous for his take-no-prisoners approach (as is his brother, Ari Emanuel, the real-world inspiration for the best character on T.V. these days, Entourage’s Ari Gold). I, though, can’t get out of my head my first meeting with Rahm.
My Chicago neighbor and good friend, David Boul, is the treasurer of Rahm’s campaign. When Rahm first ran for Congress in Chicago, David hosted a meet-and-greet for about thirty of our neighbors. Most of the residents of our neighborhood are liberal Democrats (not the “Blue Dog” variety). I was undoubtedly the only libertarian-type at the gathering.
When Rahm had finished his spiel, one of the neighbors asked him which of his Clinton administration accomplishments he was most proud of. His answer, welfare reform, was decidedly not the answer most members of the audience wanted to hear. Rahm went on to explain, though, why the reform made sense, and I believe he moved some of my neighbors to the center.
Perhaps I’ve just caught a bit of the ubiquitous Hope Bug, but I believe Rahm has the skills to do the same thing to the President-elect, whom I genuinely want to succeed. Let’s hope.