Some of them shake their heads in disbelief that Emanuel would bolt at precisely the juncture when the Democrats needed to shape their strategy and message during the homestretch of what everyone knew would be the toughest election cycle in years.
“It was Rahm who always said, ‘We’ve just got to put points on the board,’ and that’s why we have a transactional presidency,” said one former colleague. “The only problem is that Obama is not a transactional politician. It was Rahm’s strategy and then he leaves a month before the election for his own personal political career. It’s extraordinary.”…
Several lower-level White House aides say they’re still surprised that Emanuel would so readily follow his personal ambition instead of staying beside the many Democrats he helped elect in the foxhole in the final weeks of the campaign.
A senior Obama aide concedes that Emanuel’s congressional strategy was a mistake—that the White House ceded far too much authority to deeply unpopular Democrats on Capitol Hill. But this source says the president had no right to stop Emanuel’s personal ambition to become mayor of Chicago, not least because of the dedication he had shown to the White House as chief of staff. The economic headwinds were a far greater factor in the Dems’ defeat, in any event, this source says.