There is a diary currently on the rec list that essentially blames Rahm Emanuel for all of President Obama's supposed problems and missteps, due to his lack of embrace of George Lakoff's ideas on messaging. I don't really know and I'm not disputing the diarist's evidence that Rahm doesn't embrace Lakoff. However, what I find to be total horseshit (and the reason for this rebuttal diary) are comments like this:
When Obama was campaigning he was a brilliant and inspiring speaker, but when he got to the White House, something changed, almost instantly. Yes I was still supporting Obama (still do), but somehow he seemed different, less bold, not the same inspiring man he was on the campaign.
Well I think I know what caused the change. Rahm. Rahm was not part of the campaign, he wasn't there when Obama was on top of his game. The time when Rahm started giving Obama advice is exactly the time when Obama's star began to fall.
And as soon as Rahm, the man who doesn't believe in framing started to give advice, Obama's approval started to drop and has so far not recovered.
Really? The reason President Obama isn't as inspiring in governing as he was in campaigning? The reason his approval rating has went down over the course of the year? Rahm Emanuel? Really?
Ummm...no. Rahm Emanuel is not the reason for all of this. The real reason why President Obama hasn't seemed to live up to his inspirational self out on the campaign trail is because governing is not campaigning.
Campaigning is easy, especially for a man with Obama's oratorical gifts. Obama gave wonderful speeches saying he was going to give all Americans affordable health care, stop global warming with a strong energy bill, end the Iraq War, close Gitmo, and put new regulations on Wall St, basically all at the same time. Hell, with Democratic majorities in both houses of Congress, listening to Obama made you feel like all of this could be accomplished in his first year alone (I have to admit, on election night I had visions of Obama signing a global warming/energy bill on Earth Day 2009).
Out on the campaign trail you don't have to deal with the Blue Dogs and Joe Liebermans of the political world. You don't have to deal with a weak Senate Majority Leader. You don't have to deal with the minute details of policy. You don't have to deal with a Republican Party that refuses to give you a single vote on most of the bills coming out of Congress.
But reality is, governing is really fucking hard. You have to contend with and rely on 535 other individuals, each one with their own political agenda that is almost solely driven by their desire to get reelected. You have to try to pass legislation with a media that is abysmal at explaining policy and is only interested in the easy-to-cover pissing contests between the parties. You have to compromise and beg and plea and threaten to get legislation through Congress, and even then it's usually a shell of the legislation you promised when you were campaigning.
Yes the White House has screwed up many things this past year, and the President and his administration (including Rahm) are to blame for some of their mistakes. But all White Houses do that in their first year. The reason why Obama's poll numbers have dropped is because all presidents' poll numbers drop in their first year. No president ever keeps his approval ratings from his inauguration, especially when Obama has had to do some unpopular things to save the economy, like the auto industry bailout. Clinton's first year was horrible. Reagan's numbers fell dramatically after his inauguration. W's approval rating would have been mediocre if not for 9/11. This is the nature of our political system. Solely blaming Rahm Emanuel for something that historically has happened to basically every other modern president is pretty absurd, in my opinion. If I had been president in 2009, I would have done many things differently. But I have no doubt that I would have made just as many mistakes as the Obama administration, with or without Rahm Emanuel as my chief of staff.
President Obama seems less inspirational now because he actually has to try to accomplish what he promised to do, rather than just talking about it. The "Obama campaign" was the promise of an ideal presidency for many of us. But as we have seen, there is no such thing as an ideal presidency. When our leaders have to get into the real issues of the world and the nuts and bolts of governing, there is bound to be disappointment and disillusionment among those who voted for them. That is the nature of the beast that is American democracy.
But blaming one man, Rahm Emanuel, for President Obama not living up to the grand vision of his presidency out on the campaign trail? That's just not reality.