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The Enforcer: Rahmbo Emanuel

October 3, 2010

In The Prince, Machiavelli discusses how a ruler must be feared rather than loved.  That whatever course of action a ruler takes, as long as it is for the benefit of the state, the actions taken to get there are irrelevant.  In today’s world we refer to this ideas as “the ends justify the means.”  To some this may seem like a barbaric means to accomplish one’s goals, and these people may very well be right.  Regardless, in today’s world nobody represents this idea better than former White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel.  Throughout  much of his political career, Rahm Emanuel has been known by his colleagues as the enforcer.  It is probably for this reason, that President Obama wasted no time in choosing Emanuel to be his Chief of Staff shortly after winning the Presidency.  During his almost two years in the Obama Administration, Emanuel led the way on a number of the President’s top priorities.  During the health care debates, Rahm Emanuel would make frequent trips to Capitol Hill to talk with members of Congress and “convince” them to support President Obama’s agenda.  On other issues, Rahm Emanuel was working behind closed doors, utilizing the tools at his disposal to achieve the President’s goals.  To those who opposed him, Rahm Emanuel was a dirty politician who was willing to cut any deal to pass legislation he supported.  To his allies, he was a leader who fought for what he believed in, and made it happen.  Now, although Rahm Emanuel is not a ruler, he still exhibited the characteristics of a Machiavellian ruler.  He acted with a sense of purpose (possibly ruthlessness) in order to accomplish his goals.  But, he did so in a way not to achieve personal glory, but because he was doing what he believed was best for the country.  But, with Emanuel’s departing to run for Mayor of Chicago, President Obama is left with the soft-spoken Deputy Chief of Staff Pete Rouse.  Although, Rouse will only fill in temporarily until a permanent replacement is found, it will be interesting to see how Rouse’s ability to push the President’s agenda compares to that of Rahm Emanuel.  For I know one thing is certain: Rahm Emanuel will be sorely missed in the White House.  And, despite your political leanings or feeling about Rahm Emanuel, you must agree on one thing: The Enforcer always got the job done.

Colorful \’Rahmbo\’ Emanuel helped shape Obama\’s agenda

4 Comments
  1. matteric9 permalink
    October 3, 2010 6:18 PM

    I agree that Rahmbo Emanuel does possess some of the traits of a Machiavellian ruler, but he is not a ruler so I do not think that he could be considered a Machiavellian type ruler. You should consider addressing the reasons he was picked to be Chief of Staff, for that is the true reason to admire him. In chapter 6 of “The Prince,” Machiavelli mentions Moses, not for his skill, but for the grace that made him worthy to talk with god. (17) Emanuel may be successful as a mayor, then it may be possible to relate him to a Machiavellian ruler.

  2. Neil Rabinowicz permalink
    October 3, 2010 8:18 PM

    While I see where you are coming from, I can’t help but disagree with you on some of your arguments. I can see how you could say that Rahmbo Emanuel conveys Machiavellian characteristics, but I think such traits can only be applied to monarchs and dictators. Machiavelli’s ideas were relevant to society back in his time, when a ruler could get away with conquering other nations and murdering people just because he was more powerful. However, in present times none of these things are achievable, at least not without serious repercussions.

    You argue that because he was willing to get his hands dirty and would do “whatever” to achieve Obama’s goals. However, isn’t that what politics is all about? Doesn’t that mean all politicians exhibit Machiavellian characteristics? Just because he would cut any deal in order to pass legislation he supported doesn’t mean he was willing to do ANYTHING for it. Also, wouldn’t he become allies with basically anyone he felt he could use to his advantage? Machiavelli argues that you need to be feared and loved, so how did Emanuel assert his power among other politicians?

    You state that you know he’s not a ruler, so to me he shouldn’t be compared to a Machiavellian prince. Even though he exhibited some characteristics described in “The Prince,” I don’t believe that any politician nowadays could succeed if he followed Machiavelli’s advice. The world has changed too much since the time “The Prince” was written, and I highly doubt Machiavelli envisioned his ideas being applied towards democratic or communist nations, considering there are barely any monarchies left in the world today.

  3. Will Butler permalink
    October 4, 2010 1:26 AM

    I would certainly agree with this assessment of Rahm Emmanuel. Despite the fact that he is not actually a “ruler,” his “means justify the ends” mentality that has been the trademark of his political career certainly puts him close to Machiavelli. I find it incredibly ironic that Rahm Emmanuel is running for the Mayor of Chicago since the Daley’s have also been described as Machiavellian like politicians.

  4. Andrew Berman permalink
    October 4, 2010 11:18 AM

    Rahm Emmanuel is a perfect example of a “Machiavellian ruler”. He exemplifies the term “ends justifies the means” through the use of his speeches on capital hill to try and ‘convince’ everyone to follow Obamas agenda. One problem I have with your post is that Emmanuel is simply a pawn of Obama. Yes, Emmanuel displays characteristics of a Machiavellian ruler, but he is simply not a ruler. Albeit he is a powerful figure, but his power has a limit. In the United Sates if a President cannot be Machiavellian without the dismay of a lot of the population. Therefore it was important for Obama to choose Emmanuel to be his “Machiavellian prince”.

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