A LETTER TO RAHM EMANUEL, WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF
July 27, 2009
Dear Mr. Emanuel:
You are a busy man. I will be brief and to the point. What in the hell are you people doing?
President Obama was elected to transform this country. He was provided a clear majority in the House and the Senate.
Instead of using that power to effect change, you are trying to win over recalcitrant Republicans who slowly erode your power and credibility. They are your enemies vowing to bring down President Obama. Trying to appease them is a huge mistake. You are wasting this rare opportunity to use the power given to you by the American people to bring about real change.
Do not dilute the President’s vision. Please, please, please stop trying to make nice with the backwoods Republicans and craft legislation around energy, economics, education, and health care that satisfies those who elected the President for that purpose; they are the enlightened in our society. At times I think the White House is more interested in meeting the needs of their enemies than of their friends. This cannot succeed.
And take charge now. The President needs to come out of the August recess with a new plan for effecting change—use your power to do good things for America or you will lose it. Results are what matter. Hold onto your vision and use your power to make it real.
Seeking consensus makes cowards of all of us. We need strong leadership. You don’t always have to get buy-in on the front end as nice as it is to have. Sometimes leaders have to go first into the unknown to show the way. You can gain acceptance after the vision is enacted if what you enact works.
Changing the culture in Washington will happen slowly, if ever. Thinking you can win over those whose values are fundamentally different than yours is naïve leadership of change (talk to Jack Welch about leading change). They will feign cooperation on occasion but will always return to the core of who they are. And who Republicans are today is not good for America.
You need some ruthlessness as well as idealism to be a transformative leader.