Opinion: Here are Rahm Emanuel’s top priorities as White House chief of staff


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Here are the very first few things Rahm Emanuel, president-elect Barack Obama’s White House chief of staff-designate, is going to do. And they’re gonna disappoint the DailyKos crowd:

First, be fast out of the gate.

Be well-organized.

Be moderate.

Run to the middle politically. You’re going to need those centrist folks for a second term. And it’s never too soon to act on that.


Above all, remember: First impressions are crucial. They take forever to correct. Within 90 days Americans in this day and age will be forming some pretty firm convictions about the Obama Administration.

How do we know all this? First, because Emanuel was part of the crummy opening to the first Bill Clinton administration.

It took forever for him to get beyond those mistakes: the bungled appointments, the Hillary health care imbroglio, the flap over homosexuals in the military that all caused many to think (fear) this Arkansas guy was a lot more liberal (and maybe inept) than the centrist that Clinton played in the 1992 campaign against George H.W. Bush.

And the price Clinton paid for all those initial goofs and gaffes was loss of both houses of Congress in the Republican Revolution of 1994.

And we know all this because Emanuel ever so kindly offered all of this specific advice to a newly-elected George W. Bush in an op-ed piece in The Times way back on March 29, 2001, five months before 9/11 seemed to change everything, including erasing for a while some negative first impressions of the new Bush.

Thanks to our co-blogger Larry Harnisch over at the Daily Mirror for uncovering this advisory artifact. You can find Larry’s complete report -- and Emanuel’s complete column -- over there.

--Andrew Malcolm

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