A New Obama-Rahm Leak Policy?

Maybe it’s the addition of beltway leaker extraordinaire, Rahm Emanuel, to the team, but it appears that the Obama team may have adopted a new policy on leaks, departing from their eerily disciplined no-leak approach during the campaign.

Note this passage in NYT’s coverage of Obama’s request that Bush support a bailout for the auto industry.

The struggling auto industry was thrust into the middle of a political standoff between the White House and Democrats on Monday as President-elect Barack Obama urged President Bush in a meeting at the White House to support immediate emergency aid.

Mr. Bush indicated at the meeting that he might support some aid and a broader economic stimulus package if Mr. Obama and Congressional Democrats dropped their opposition to a free-trade agreement with Colombia, a measure for which Mr. Bush has long fought, people familiar with the discussion said. [my emphasis]

Here’s how the WaPo reported the same detail.

Bush, speaking privately to Obama during their first Oval Office meeting, repeated his administration’s stand that he might support quick action on those bills if Democratic leaders drop their opposition to a Colombia trade agreement that Bush supports, according to people familiar with the discussions.  [my emphasis]

And here’s how Bush’s team reported Bush’s ire about these leaks to Drudge.

Just hours after President Bush and President-elect Obama met in the Oval Office of the White House, details of their confidential conversation began leaking out to the press, igniting anger from the president, sources claim.

"Senator Obama would be wise to keep close counsel," a top Bush source warned. 


Bush advisers view the leaks as an effort to undermine the president’s remaining days in office.

"Senator Obama may not be familiar with a long-standing tradition of presidents holding their private conversations, private," a senior adviser explained to the DRUDGE REPORT. [my emphasis]

Seeing as how this obviously organized leak may well have come from the latest addition to the previously leak-proof Obama team–Rahm Emanuel–the Bushies aren’t really in a position to lecture about what past Presidents have done. Rahm’s been there, and was leaking in the Clinton days as well, I’m sure. (One other candidate to be the leaker is another Clinton veteran, John Podesta, though my money’s on Rahm.)

So my question has more to do with the efficacy of the leak. Read more

Speaking as the Owner of a Perfect Storm Cap

I’m glad Howard Dean didn’t let Chuck and Rahm claim all the credit for a big victory again, like they did in 2006.

This has been a truly historic, transformational election.  Tonight, our country chose hope over fear, the future over the past, unity over division.  This election also reflects the passing of the torch to a new generation.  Barack Obama inspired young voters across this country to answer the call and get involved.  They responded to his promise to put partisanship and divisiveness aside and come together as one nation to find solutions.  They turned out. They made calls. They knocked on doors. And they helped change our country.

The American people have given all of us – Democrats, Republicans and Independents – a simple mandate: to work together find big solutions to the big challenges facing our country.  We must work together to change the direction of our wonderful country and to restore America. With the help of strong Democratic majorities in Congress, President Barack Obama is going to set this nation on a course to provide the change we need.

Today I am humbled by what we have accomplished over the last four years. Together, we can build on this moment to bring our nation together and work as one to overcome the challenges we face. It is what we as Americans have always done.  Under Barack Obama’s leadership, we’ll do it again. [my emphasis]

 Though he didn’t exactly boast about how Obama won by following in Dean’s 50 State Strategy path.


The AP is out with a story that Rahm Emmanuel has been offered the position of Chief of Staff in an Obama Administration.

Barack Obama’s campaign has approached Illinois Rep. Rahm Emanuel about possibly serving as White House chief of staff, officials said Thursday as the marathon presidential race entered its final, frenzied stretch with a Democratic tilt.


The Democrats who described the Obama campaign’s approach to Emanuel spoke on condition of anonymity, saying they were not authorized to be quoted by name. An aide to the congressman, Sarah Feinberg, said in an e-mail that he "has not been contacted to take a job in an administration that does not yet exist. Everyone is focused on Election Day, as they should be. "

I think this is, at the very least, overblown not just for the reasons Ambinder lays out:

… but if Obama has the made decision, he wouldn’t tell anyone on his campaign, he would tell people on his transition team — and they’re not speaking to the press. People on the campaign say that Obama hasn’t had a free hour to concentrate about this stuff — which they would say, of course, but the sources are genuinely reliable. Surely he has an idea or two in mind, and maybe it would make sense to give the people he’s thinking about asking to serve a heads up.  It’s hard to say no to a president.

Emanuel has been a regular behind-the-scenes adviser to Obama, knows everyone in Washington, is one of the better communicators in the party, and certainly is qualified for the post.  But he’s … got a very strong personality that doesn’t exactly jibe with the tone Obama likes to set for his endeavors. (David Plouffe and Rahm Emanuel could not be more different in temperament.)  He also has a young family, and he has not moved them to Washington, and his hours as chief of staff would be hellish.

Incidentally: nothing would be more devastating to Emanuel’s chances than a public story like this, one that could allow Republicans to use Emanuel’s brass-knuckle reputation against Obama a few days before the election. [snip]

Rahm has a practice of starting rumors about himself Read more