Rahm talking out of school again
First, why is Rahm Emmanuel even invited to a reception for the French Ambassador in Washington? Does Chicago have a lot of trade issues with France or something?
Former White House chief of staff and currrent Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel appeared underwhelmed by Francois Hollande, elected yesterday to lead France, according to a report in the left-wing French newspaper Liberation.
"To me, [Hollande] has more of the head of a prime minister than of a president," Emanuel reportedly said at a reception at the residence of the French Ambassador in Washington. When French diplomats suggested that Hollande could grow into the job, Emanuel reportedly shot back with his "professional" opinion that he couldn't imagine Hollande "grow[ing] in office."
But Emanuel's office cast the exchange differently.
"What the mayor said was just the opposite," his spokeswoman Sarah Hamilton told BuzzFeed. "What he said was: He doesn't know him, but through the U.S. press coverage, he looks more like a prime minister than a president, but everybody grows into their job."
I don't know the truth of what Rahm said at that dinner, but either way it's insulting. And why is he saying anything about this at all in this situation? He's a mayor of a major American city now, not a presidential adviser or a congressman. He has no official role in foreign policy although his past relationship to the president could lead people to believe he speaks with some authority. I realize that he's got a right to free speech but he really should be more careful.
On the other hand, maybe he really was speaking on behalf of the administration in which case we have a bigger problem:
The report is one of a series of ripples of the election of Hollande, a little-known figure here who didn't visit the U.S. during his campaign, over Sarkozy, known domestically as "Sarko the American." Though Sarkozy is a figure of the European right, he proved an important force in the Obama Administration, pushing the U.S. into a conflict in Libya, in particular.
In France, Obama was perceived to be supporting Sarkozy; in particular, Liberation writes, the White House, at the request of the Elysee, allowed Sarkozy's aides to film the French side of a telephone conversation between the presidents.
The U.S. Administration has, however, been formally neutral, and some here look forward to a French Administration willing to push Europe away from austerity and toward stimulus spending to revive the European economy.
I'm guessing those are not members of the administration who have been talking to Rahm. Or members who authorized that TV stunt:
Days before the first-round vote in the French presidential election, on 22 April, the rare glimpse of banter between world leaders shows Obama saying of the campaign: "It must be a busy time." He adds: "I admire the tough battle you are waging." Sarkozy replies, grinning, with arms folded: "We will win, Mr Obama. You and me, together." The cameras leave before the pair talk about Syria, Iran and oil.
French media wondered if the White House knew the footage would be made public, or whether Obama was set up.
Washington told Le Monde it had been aware that cameras were authorised to film the first few minutes of the conference.
Please. There are lots of reasons why President Obama may have wanted Sarkozy to win, the more prosaic being that he knows him and may like him personally. The autobiographies of world leaders often reveal that's a bigger component of foreign policy than we may realize. But it's also possible that the administration doesn't want these leftists meddling in their elite economic strategy with their penchant for worrying a little bit too much about the average folk and not enough about "preserving the system."
We'll never know. The fact is that Hollande is president now, even if he doesn't look "presidential" to Rahm Emmanuel and they're going to have to deal with him. Of course, he's going to have to deal with them too.