Emanuel Risks It All by Using All His Power

By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 15, 2009 7:55 PM CDT
White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel smiles as he listens to President Barack Obama at the White House in Washington, Wednesday, July 22, 2009.   (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
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(Newser) – Rahm Emanuel is emerging as the most powerful chief of staff in decades, affecting policy as often as he terrorizes White House staff with expletive-ridden tirades, the New York Times reports. But that means it's Emanuel's job, and reputation, that's at risk if President Obama fails to reform health care and untangle two wars. "He’s about to be tested," says a friend. "He’s spinning a lot of plates over there and he breaks a lot of china."

Just how involved is Emanuel? Based on about 60 interviews, the Times draws a portrait of a hyperactive pro who makes 50 phone calls a day, hounds lawmakers for votes, and leans on interest groups and Cabinet members alike. Sure, he bites off heads, but he also plays nice to increase his influence. Above all, he demands discipline in an administration that's "like a family," says one official. "You’re not going to undercut your sibling—or you’ll pay for it at the dinner table.”