This will keep millons of uninsured warmBack when Barack Obama tapped Rahm Emanuel to be his Chief of Staff I was cautiously optimistic. Since Obama is a smooth-jazz doesn’t-want-to-get-his-hands-dirty kind of guy (Barack Obama is to “audacity” what Phil Collins is to “rock ‘n roll”) I figured that, should Obama be sincere about what he claimed he wanted to accomplish, Rahm was just the nasty cheap-shotting foul-mouthed little thug the President needed to get things done.

Kinda like this:

Eventually, I met with Rove. I arrived at his office a few minutes early, just in time to witness the Rove Treatment, which, like LBJ’s famous browbeating style, is becoming legend but is seldom reported. Rove’s assistant, Susan Ralston, said he’d be just a minute. She’s very nice, witty and polite. Over her shoulder was a small back room where a few young men were toiling away. I squeezed into a chair near the open door to Rove’s modest chamber, my back against his doorframe.

Inside, Rove was talking to an aide about some political stratagem in some state that had gone awry and a political operative who had displeased him. I paid it no mind and reviewed a jotted list of questions I hoped to ask. But after a moment, it was like ignoring a tornado flinging parked cars. “We will fuck him. Do you hear me? We will fuck him. We will ruin him. Like no one has ever fucked him!” As a reporter, you get around—curse words, anger, passionate intensity are not notable events—but the ferocity, the bellicosity, the violent imputations were, well, shocking. This went on without a break for a minute or two. Then the aide slipped out looking a bit ashen, and Rove, his face ruddy from the exertions of the past few moments, looked at me and smiled a gentle, Clarence-the-Angel smile. “Come on in.” And I did.

So all I really wanted for Christmas was a Karl Rove of our own who would make all of our Obama wishes come true, even if he had to kick Evan Bayh’s mushy skull in to accomplish them. Someone who, I had hoped, would make Joe Lieberman’s life something akin to a hemorrhoidectomy gone horribly terribly wrong.

Such is not the case:

The White House wants Reid to hand Joe Lieberman the farm.

An aide briefed on discussions with the White House says that there would be no story if Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel hadn’t interceded. The aide confirmed an account, reported by Huffington Post, that Emanuel visited Reid personally, telling him to cut a deal with Lieberman.

Then the aide provided more detail.

Emanuel didn’t just leave it to Reid to find a solution. Emanuel specifically suggested Reid give Lieberman the concessions he seeks on issues like the Medicare buy-in and triggers.

“It was all about ‘do what you’ve got to do to get it done. Drop whatever you’ve got to drop to get it done,” the aide said. All of Emanuel’s prescriptions, the source said, were aimed at appeasing Lieberman–not twisting his arm.

If Rahm Emanuel is all he was supposed to be, we can safely assume that the Obama White House either never gave a shit about health care reform, or they managed health care reform so horrifically and incompetently that they are now willing to settle for a “win”, no matter how meager.

I hope they enjoy their Pyrrhic victory because they just burned the base.