Team Obama: It was Rahmbo's fault
This is more than just fingerpointing or scapegoating. The politicos at the White House have a good point. Emanuel, who authored the successful Dem strategy to take over the House in 2006 as well as guiding the Obama campaign to victory in 2008 with his fanatical devotion to message, was nowhere to be seen on election night.
Where was Rahm?
Half a continent away, campaigning for himself in the most pro-Obama place on the planet, largely sheltered from the Republican rubble crashing down on his party all across the country.
And his old colleagues in Washington aren't too happy about it. 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."
After a month of running for mayor of Chicago, Emanuel took the time on Tuesday to call some of the defeated candidates, whose political careers he helped launch as part of the Democratic takeover in 2006.
But the fact remains: four years later, his class of '06 is decimated and Emanuel has left Washington politics altogether.
Washington insiders never really understood Rahm Emanuel. He has very deep roots in Chicago - political, religious, and personal. The personal ambition bug may have allowed him to dream of being Speaker of the House but once he saw the coming GOP tsunami he knew it would probably be years before he would get a chance to realize that dream. If he ran for Congress again, he would have to start at the bottom of the seniority ladder and work his way up.
Then came Daley's retirement announcement and the once in a lifetime opportunity to run for Mayor of his hometown. Other Dems might see it as Rahmbo abandoning them in their hour of need, but there are limits to what any politician is willing to give in personal loyalty and self denial.
For Emanuel, sticking around to help his party through this nightmare of an election proved to be asking too much.