The glow and goodwill of President-elect Obama’s victory speech in
Grant Park is still filling people with hope of unity and healing.
Recall his words:

In this country, we rise or fall as one nation, as one
people. Let’s resist the temptation to fall back on the same
partisanship and pettiness and immaturity that has poisoned our
politics for so long.

Pause there…

The next day, he offered the job of Chief-of-Staff to Rahm Emanuel. What?!

From the BBC:

Mr Emanuel is an Illinois congressman and tough
Washington insider who has been strongly criticised by some Republicans
for being too partisan, says the BBC’s Jane O’Brien in Washington.

…(I)f he does become chief-of-staff, he would be responsible for much of the internal management of the new administration.

But critics say his appointment could accentuate party divides, rather than heal them, as Mr. Obama has pledged to do.

Here’s a collection of descriptions of Emanuel from fellow Democrats
and longtime Washington insiders over the past 24 hours: “Stridently
partisan”, “good in a knife fight”, “known for having sharp elbows”,
“known for partisanship and profanity”, “the enforcer”.

Dick Morris, who worked closely with Emanuel in the Clinton White
House, appeared on Fox News and gave a rapid rundown of his reaction to
the pick. “A horrible choice”; Emanuel is “the sharpest partisan in the
House”, “a take no prisoner’s partisan, not an ‘across the aisles’ guy;
“I’ve never seen him cede a point to the other side”.

This is change?

Here’s an explanation of the “knife fight” reputation.

The best Rahm Emanuel story is not the one about the
decomposing two-and-a-half-foot fish he sent to a pollster who
displeased him. It is not about the time – the many times – that he
hung up on political contributors in a Chicago mayor’s race, saying he
was embarrassed to accept their $5,000 checks because they were $25,000
kind of guys. No, the definitive Rahm Emanuel story takes place in
Little Rock, Ark., in the heady days after Bill Clinton was first
elected President…

Revenge was heavy in the air as the group discussed the enemies –
Democrats, Republicans, members of the press – who wronged them during
the 1992 campaign…

Suddenly Emanuel grabbed his steak knife and, as those who were
there remember it, shouted out the name of another enemy, lifted the
knife, then brought it down with full force into the table.

‘’Dead!'’ he screamed.

Post-partisanship? What a difference a day makes. Emanuel accepted the Chief-of-Staff position today.

Go back to Obama’s speech, a mere two nights ago:

Let’s remember that it was a man from this state who
first carried the banner of the Republican Party to the White House, a
party founded on the values of self-reliance and individual liberty and
national unity.

Those are values that we all share. And while the Democratic Party
has won a great victory tonight, we do so with a measure of humility
and determination to heal the divides that have held back our progress.

Let’s start fresh today. Give everyone the benefit of the doubt that
they can bring about change. Give the President-elect our support and
our prayers. And our hopes that he has a good long talk with his
Chief-of-Staff about that humility and healing that people believe in.

Sheila Liaugminas

Sheila Liaugminas is an Emmy award-winning Chicago-based journalist in print and broadcast media. Her writing and broadcasting covers matters of faith, culture, politics and the media....