White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel spent years crafting a reputation as ruthless foul-mouthed cutthroat by sending people dead fish. But today the Washington Post says he's become "more valet than hitman." Ouch.
It is curious that the Post couldn't land a single Republican to complain about Emanuel and his heavy-handed tactics. And it may actually undermine the story's point somewhat—if the GOP is too scared to offer routine criticism of the president's right-hand man for a newspaper profile, then clearly his vengeful habits haven't been completely exorcised. He's just become more discreet. And he's probably thrilled to have the Post calling him a namby-pamby valet. It's an information operation! The guy is that good.
But as the Post puts it, "Rahmbo" has taken a more conciliatory tack than many expected in corralling lawmakers to advance the Obama agenda. He was supposed to be a shiv-wielding maniac, but the Post takes a look at how he's actually been going about his job and found a polite, thoughtful, accommodating young man.
Republicans Peter King and Olympia Snowe stepped forward to sing Emanuel's praises—"He always takes my calls," Snowe said—and the Post couldn't find a single GOPer to badmouth him. The only critical quote is from Newt Gingrich, from the Today show last month, comparing Emanuel to H.R. Haldeman.
During a recent Senate debate, Reid asked Emanuel to lean on three Democratic holdouts. When Emanuel reported back with a single convert, Reid chastised him that "batting .333 isn't good enough for the major leagues" of Congress. Emanuel responded with a string of expletives but tried again and produced a second vote.
The old Rahm would have pushed Reid's eyeballs out with his thumbs for saying something like that.