What Rahm Emanuel knows as he prepares to take the most important job in the Obama White House:
1. Mandates and honeymoons sound really nice until you start counting votes.
2. There's nothing' in a thumpin' that can't be served right back.
3. John Dingell and Dave Obey didn't need Barack Obama to become chairmen -- and don't need him to stay chairmen, either.
4. It was easier to keep the Rahm pace before he had kids.
5. He'd rather be on this team than any other [bleepin'] team right now.
6. Not taking the job he's been offered would cause a bigger public snafu for his friend than anything he went through during the course of his campaign.
The early moves in the transition period may say more about the kind of president Obama will be than anything he did or said during the campaign.
(And, in reverse, the early words pouring out of what was once the McCain-Palin campaign tells us more about what kind of operation that really was -- and that there's at least a few someones still gunning for Sarah Palin.)
In turning to Rep. Rahm Emanuel, D-Ill., for chief of staff, Obama is signaling that he wants to get things done, not make friends, and not let fears of public perceptions guide his early choices.
When Obama and Vice-President Elect Joe Biden get their first round of full-on security briefings on Thursday, they'll be continuing to learn far more than they say. (Still no press conference scheduled for of our newly elected ticket -- though there's at least that possibility on Thursday)
The biggest theme sounding around Chicago now: After a campaign that leaned on the audacity to hope, this needs to be a transition that avoids the unreality of hype. (All those tears, all this emotion, all the expectations -- this is energy that needs somewhere to go.)
Starting with the lack of fireworks Tuesday night -- and a speech that was somewhere between restrained and solemn -- and up through the decision to avoid the public for a full day Wednesday, our president-elect wants the starry-eyed dreamers to get to work.
"President-elect Barack Obama has begun an effort to tamp down what his aides fear are unusually high expectations among his supporters, and will remind Americans regularly throughout the transition that the nation's challenges are substantial and will take time to address," Adam Nagourney and Jim Rutenberg write in The New York Times.
"While the energy of his supporters could be a tremendous political asset as Mr. Obama works to enact his agenda after taking office in January, his aides said they were looking to temper hopes that he would be able to solve the nation's problems or fully reverse Bush administration policies quickly and easily, especially given the prospect of a deep and long-lasting recession," they report. "They said they would discourage the traditional yardstick for measuring the accomplishments of a new president -- the first 100 days. Mr. Obama told an interviewer toward the end of his campaign that it was more appropriate to talk about the first 1,000 days."
"[Obama's] temperament as a candidate suggests a president not given to highs and lows, and his campaign foreshadows a White House more orderly than those of the two most recent Democratic presidents, Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter," Dan Balz writes in The Washington Post.