Mea culpa mea maxima culpa! Last week, I wrote this HuffPost post about all the good reasons I thought Rahm Emanuel should not take the job of White House Chief of Staff. Actually, there was only one reason -- it would mean giving up on his goal of being Speaker of the House for a job where the average length of stay was two years or less. I think Rahm would have been a historic Speaker, but I can understand why he wouldn't want to wait the ten years it might take for the job to open up.
So now that he's accepted Obama's offer, I request permission to revise and extend my remarks.
From the White House, Rahm Emanuel will work with Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid to make the Obama White House the most successful legislative powerhouse since Lyndon Johnson's. Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton faced roadblocks, resistance and intransigence on Capitol Hill but this appointment gives Obama the chance to be fulfill his supporters' dream of being another FDR (although, barring a Constitutional amendment, he won't be able to be elected four times). With a muscular Democratic majority and a savvy White House political team that will also include David Axelrod in Karl Rove's job, the Obama Administration has a good chance to be the transformational force Americans want and need.
Much has been said about Rahm's intensity, temperament and ferocious determination, and the Republican spin machine is already trying to paint this appointment as the triumph of "old politics." I think they're quivering in their hobnailed boots. Press releases and vitriolic speeches won't keep Emanuel from staying focused on his mission.
I've been milking my association with Rahm for all it's worth (which isn't much, as I've talked to him perhaps three times in the last 20 years), but I met him when we were both students at Sarah Lawrence College in the 1970s. He was a dance student then, and his dexterity and lightness on his feet reminds me of the great line from Muhammad Ali which I think will characterize his approach to the challenges ahead: "Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee."