Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Obama swallows the bitterest pill

Everyone expects Barack Obama to get a bloody nose in today's mid-term elections. That's what traditionally happens to presidents. I'm sure he expected nothing less when he was elected all of two years ago. Nonetheless he must surely be bitterly disappointed by the number of his top people who have announced that they are planning to leave. Rahm Emmanuel, his chief of staff, is just one. To put this in West Wing terms this is like Leo McGarry buggering off at the end of Season Two because things were getting a bit too hot. There are more.

I expect all Obama's media admirers, who gushed over his election as if it were a hinge moment for civilisation, to melt away the minute he has to do what people in government have to do, make some unpalatable choices. I expect many of the voters to have the attention spans of mayflies. But this sudden disappearance of so many of the people who were professionally connected to him is further proof that no wing of politics has a monopoly of the basic human virtues. I used to know a grizzled old press baron who when asked what he considered the most important virtue would bark "Loyalty" . At the time I thought he was overrating it. I don't any more.


  1. This happens all the time, doesn't it? Even Clinton - in a far stronger position by the midterm elections than the mess Obama is in now - changed both his Chief of Staff and Treasury Secretary after he'd been in office for barely a year.

    And Emanuel is hardly running off to a rival camp; he's running for mayor of Chicago, Obama's hometown, having neatly raised his profile over the last couple of years. I doubt Obama feels betrayed - having a friendly Chicago mayor never did any president any harm.

  2. What worried me was, in 2004 when Bush was re-elected, the reason some voters gave for their support was that you don't cut down a man when he's only halfway through the job. I hope the electorate extend the same treatment to Obama.