A Wash. Post profile today on Rahm Emanuel includes an anecdote in which U.S. Rep. Marion Berry figures.
The White House legislative strategy blends Obama's vision and salesmanship with Emanuel's granular political expertise and dealmaking skills. One of Emanuel's targets in the run-up to the budget vote was Rep. Marion Berry, an Arkansas Democrat who opposed Obama's proposal to save nearly $10 billion over 10 years by cutting federal payments to large farms.
Berry still seemed agitated after a brief session in Emanuel's office, so the chief of staff played his trump card. "I walked him down to the Oval" and introduced Berry to Obama, Emanuel recalled. The two traded farm jokes and agreed to talk later in the year about a comprehensive review of federal agriculture policy. Berry, a longtime Clinton ally, said he "really did appreciate" the attention and was relieved that Obama appeared willing to back off the cuts, at least for now. When the House voted, he was a yes.
"I was never a big Obama guy, but when I heard on the news that Rahm was going to be chief of staff, I thought, of all people I've known in my life, he was born to be chief of staff to a great president," Berry said. "He's young and tough and smart, and can be mean when necessary. He doesn't waste energy on foolish things."
In Berry, Emanuel saw a veteran lawmaker "who felt like his voice wasn't being heard," something he understood from his combined Hill and White House experience. "I know these guys; I know what makes them tick. I know their districts. It's not the first time I've ever talked to them," Emanuel said.
Re Obama, Emanuel, Berry, farm policy: We shall see what ticks.