Self-Interest and Politics

Posted on October 8, 2010 by

Barack Obama hired Rahm Emanuel and it was up to the president whether to take his advice. 

Apparently Emanuel’s influence was illiberal and compromising but how to play the first two years was Obama’s call.

Nevertheless I find it unseemly that Rahm is jumping into Chicago’s mayor’s race at the very moment the white house agenda is going up in smoke.

I don’t know – or care really – if Emanuel feels any responsibility for what went wrong at his last job.  I’ll leave it to the voters of Chicago to sort out. 

But he certainly has a lot of nerve.  And though he’s a one-of-a-kind character, his behavior does say something about the role of ambition among the political class. 

Obviously, there are ego maniacs everywhere on the political spectrum.

Though it would be comforting to believe that self-centered behavior is more prevalent among political leaders on the right, I’m not sure about that.  And conservatives have a built-in advantage in this department because they don’t have to work as hard as liberals to disguise their self-interest.  (They also don’t have to claim that everything they do is about helping people).

Our side always seems stuck having to make self-righteous claims about our compassion and other people’s greed.

But I’m drifting.

Maybe I’m feeling introspective because we’re about to take such a big hit.  And although it’s tempting to blame Obama’s team and the president himself, I do wonder why we’re such easy prey to those scheming and ruthless republicans.

They certainly seem to know how to expose our hypocrisy.

I’m not suggesting that Rahm Emanuel embodies all – or even most - of the contradictions within the democratic party.  He was, after all, in “the bubble” and probably couldn’t see his own complicity in weakening the Obama presidency.

But even though I have some empathy for Rahm, I’m still offended by his hubris. 

And I hope he loses.

Comments (6)


  1. Barry says:

    You write a really interesting blog. I always enjoy opening the link and reading what you have to say.

  2. Martin Jay says:

    Wow – “I hope he loses” you say. That’s more emotion
    than just being offended by his hubris.

    Anyway – whether you blame it on Rahm – or you blame it on Obama – Or you blame it on the republicans – spinning thier fear based rhetoric . . . .the biggest failure
    of the Obama administration – has been managing the expectations of the voters.

    The voters got impatient – people say that it’s only been two years. It’s only 1 year and 9 months.
    Everybody – Chill out!!!!

    Give the guy a break. This has been the strongest recession – in the history of this country.
    Tihis does not get fixed – like an instant cereal.

    And – another thing When Christine O’Donnell – says she is like me (“I’m you” from her latest TV ad). She is
    100% WRONG.

    Chrstine O’Donnell beleives that earth is 6000 years old. That is NOT like me. She beleives that women should not have reproductive rights. That is NOT like me. She does not beleive in the science of evolution. That is NOT like me.
    She is NOT like me in ANY way.

    Who is she trying to fool?


  3. Salvador Sanchez says:

    Rahm is the new Machievelli in today’s politics. “The end justifies the means,” has not served well this Obama’s administration.

  4. Greg says:

    Rahm will lose. O’Donnell is a nut job. The sky is not falling, but if Obama does not get labor EFCA before 2012 labor will be looking for a new administration.

  5. Saul Schneider says:

    Emanuel was probably getting kicked out and this Chicago thing was face saving.

    Republicans are about holding on to their property and money. They are conservative. They do not like people coming from the outside and taking their power. Obama is the ultimate outsider. He is their nightmare. All of their channels are turning to get him out. The switch from W to Obama has to be the biggest idealogical shift in American politics ever. I agree with the previous writer. Obama has done alot in less than 2 years and he’s going to do alot more. The mid term elections always go to the other party.

  6. Jon K. says:

    “I do wonder why we’re such easy prey to those scheming and ruthless republicans.”

    Because they’re more disciplined. They are able to stick to a single message with greater focus. That One America march on Washington? It was a sea of special interests pushing their niche agendas. It’s offputting to independents.

    I had dinner with some financial experts last night. They noted that the commercial real estate bubble hasn’t burst yet. They expect it to in 2011 or 2012. The bad economic news it’ll produce will essentially end Obama’s presidency. No one can survive in conditions like that. It’s a shame, but we have to face realities if we’re going to effectively adapt to them.

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