This has been a week of inside vision into the role of Rahm Emanuel, the charismatic chief of staff, in the Obama White House. Does the president listen to him? Does the president need him? Why did Emanuel take the job? All are questions being asked, most prominently at (and in reaction to) The Washington Post, via Dana Milbank's column and Jason Horowitz's longer piece.
Today, we get another rich, long, voyeuristic look into Emanuel's time at the White House from The New Repulic's Noah Scheiber, and, with it, some take-away facts about the chief of staff's tenure: Emanuel didn't get to pick all of his own personnel when he took the job; he favored Larry Summers for Treasury secretary; he wanted to preserve the White House's alliances with health industry players--instead of turning an about-face, as President Obama did in August, and turn insurers into his rhetorical public enemy #1; and he wanted to move faster with a health reform bill, rather than letting Senate Finance Committee top-men Max Baucus (D-MT) and Charles Grassley (R-IA) drag on with bipartisan negotiations into September (which ultimately yielded no agreement).
These points will inevitably perpetuate the same questions being asked, but Scheiber also paints a picture of Emanuel as an entrenched piece of the White House machine that commands instant attention and respect--both part of the team and outside it; a bit of necessary antagonist, a bit of political communications expert, and a bit of bag man.