Ten Pieces Worth Reading, Mostly Economics: February 23, 2010
The New York Times Needs a New Ombudsman...

Mirror of Wildernesses...

Steve Clemens has an interpretation of what is perhaps the least informative column I have seen this year, by Dana Milbank of the Washington Post:

Steve Clemons: Milbank Shows Rahm Lots of Love: This morning in the Washington Post, Dana Milbank challenges Edward Luce, Leslie Gelb, Jane Hamsher and me on our recent pieces explicating the management and policymaking mess among Barack Obama's core team.... The piece conveys a detailed knowledge of what exactly Rahm advised Obama to do -- and how exactly Obama allegedly rebuffed Emanuel. So, Rahm, or Milbank on his behalf, seems to be appealing to President Obama to just listen to Rahm more and all will be well. But then Milbank jumps on the bandwagon of those he starts his piece by rebuffing, and suggests that the White House dump Gibbs, Axelrod, and Jarrett. Not even my essay went that far.

This reminds me of a vignette at the tail end of Richard Wolffe's interesting profile of the Obama campaign titled Renegade: The Making of a President in which Emanuel tried to "export" Valerie Jarrett to the U.S. Senate to fill Obama's seat and to pry her away from such constant, intimate proximity to the President. Seems like via Dana Milbank, Rahm Emanuel is still trying to pry them away.

Today's column starts:

Let us now praise Rahm Emanuel. No, seriously.

I wondered if there was a foundation in their relationship for this kind of adoration. Well, maybe. I found this June 2009 profile of Rahm Emanuel by Milbank. Read the whole thing, but here's a bit slug that could explain why Emanuel would send some sizzle Milbank's direction:


The column is uninformative because we don't know if any of it is true or, if some of it is true, what it means. The problem is that we don't know whether:

  • Milbank is trying to throw Emmanuel under the bus by starting a public fight between Emmanuel and Gibbs, Axelrod, and Jarrett which Emmanuel will lose.
  • Milbank is trying to help Emmanuel by starting--without Emmanuel's knowledge of permission--a public fight between Emmanuel and Gibbs, Axelrod, and Jarrett which Emmanuel will win.
  • Milbank doesn't care who wins, he just thinks that if he can start a public fight between Emmanuel and Gibbs, Axelrod, and Jarrett that he, Milbank, will benefit.
  • Milbank is doing Emmanuel's bidding by writing this column.
  • Milbank is doing the bidding of Emmanuel's enemies by writing this column.

We simply do not know: Milbank reports thuds and screams inside the Topkapi Palace--but we don't even know that there are thuds and screams, all we know is that Milbank reports thuds and screams and that we know from the past that he is an unreliable narrator.

For what it's worth, I haven't heard complaints about Rahm Emmanuel from anybody: smart, energetic, highly effective, reality-based. If there is a flaw it is that he would rather choose a strategy that prouduces a 90% chance of a mediocre bill than a 70% chance of a really good bill, but that rests on his view of congress as a collection of herd animals--and may well be corret.