By Ben Cohen
There is a debate raging about Obama's appointment of Rahm Emmanuel to Chief of Staff on all sides of the political spectrum. Republicans believe Emmanuel is too left wing - a party hack and an enforcer of liberal elitism. Progressives view Emmanuel in a completely different light, seeing him as a pro Israel hawk and a centrist rather than a true liberal.
Emmanuel is basically a Clintonite, and most certainly a left centrist. Republicans are only up in arms because he is effective at creating unity amongst Democrats, and the charges of liberalism don't really stand up to scrutiny. Emmanuel has a mixed record on economic issues, and is a big time hawk on Israel.
It isn't clear how important Emmanuel's views on Israel are in terms of influencing Obama, but generally speaking, it isn't a positive sign. Obama made saddling up to Israel a big part of his campaign, and having someone like Emmanuel so close to him is an indication he doesn't plan on taking a balanced view. However, the Chief of Staff doesn't usually effect policy, so there is hope he might take a more independent stance.
Obama seems to be surrounding himself with Clinton Democrats, and this is a big mistake on two parts. The first is that it will help unify Republicans who are well versed in fighting them, and second, that it will swing politics back to the muddy center, rather than the progressive left, which is where it needs to be if there is any hope of sorting out the incredible mess we are in.
Here's an interesting discussion on The Real News where Emmanuel's influence is analyzed by Paul Jay and veteran investigative journalist Robert Parry: