Democrats Blaming Emanuel for Healthcare Defeat

Tuesday, 09 Feb 2010 02:16 PM

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Congressional Democrats are turning on White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, holding him accountable for the collapse of healthcare reform.

The emerging consensus among critics in both chambers is that Emanuel’s lack of Senate expertise crippled the effort, according to The Hill.

Cracks are beginning to show in Emanuel’s once-impregnable political armor, according to The Hill. Last week he had to apologize after a report surfaced that he called liberal groups “retarded” in a private meeting.

"I think Rahm ran the play his boss called; once Obama called the play, Rahm did everything he could to pass it, scorched-earth and all that,” a senior lawmaker told The Hill, who added that Emanuel didn’t seek a broader base of Senate Republicans. “I think he did miscalculate the Senate. He did what he thought he had to do to win."

No Democrat is calling for Emanuel’s resignation, even privately, and they acknowledge his hard work and straightforward approach in a very tough job.

Liberals think Emanuel made a mistake by allowing Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus, D-Mont., to spend months negotiating with Republicans on his committee, such as Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iow.
But centrists also take issue with how he approached the Senate.

“I like Rahm; he's always been a straight shooter with me," said a Democratic centrist senator who was closely involved in the healthcare debate.

The lawmaker said Emanuel misjudged the Senate by focusing on only a few Republicans, citing Maine Sens. Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins as too narrow a pool.

“In the Senate, you have to anchor in the middle and build out," said the lawmaker.

“They just wanted to win," the source said of Emanuel and other White House strategists. "Their plan was to keep all the Democrats together and work like hell to get Snowe and Collins. The Senate doesn't work that way. You need a radius of 10 to 12 from the other side if you're going to have a shot."


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