Friday, November 07, 2008

Change you can motherfucking believe in

My biggest worry all along about Obama was that he might not have enough of a vicious streak. All that post-partisan stuff never sat too well with me, not because I like partisanship, but because that kind of thinking can shade into not knowing who your enemies are, and not having the instincts to stick the knife in when the opportunity presents itself.

Obama dealt with this concern by pointing out that he was winning the race, and that everyone needed to calm down, which was a good point, but didn't go to the question of whether he had killer instinct. I continue to see Obama's victory as at least in part a result of assisting with the GOP's political suicide, more than as an affirmative push of this country in an entirely new direction. Yes, a black liberal won the election this year, mirabile dictu, but to me that primarily underscored how badly the GOP had fucked the country up, more than it proved Obama's killer instincts.

Now, let me be clear. It's not that I was sure that Obama lacked a killer instinct, it's rather than he had done little to prove he has a killer instinct. I just wasn't sure. Obama had plenty of other virtues that made me support him, but this particular issue was a question mark to me about how effective he would be at actually governing.

Obama's first big announcement since winning on Tuesday, naming Rahm Emanuel as his Chief of Staff, goes a huge way toward allaying my concern. By all reports, Emanuel has brass balls, which is apparently a family trait, since his dad is a former member of the Irgun (the Israeli terrorist organization), and his brother is the killer Hollywood agent Ari Emanuel that the Ari Gold character on Entourage is modeled after. The fact that the Israelis regard Rahm as one of their own may be a good or bad thing, but in terms of demonstrating Obama's desire to kick some ass, the Emanuel appointment is an unambiguous positive.

Update: In terms of what the Emanuel appointment suggests about Obama's likely Palestine policy, I can do no better than quote Emanuel's father, who offered the Jerusalem Post this adorable quote: "Obviously he will influence the president to be pro-Israel.... Why wouldn't he be? What is he, an Arab? He's not going to clean the floors of the White House."

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