Sweet, Brown columns go inside Rahm

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My colleague Mark Brown provides a unique look into Rahm Emanuel in his Sunday column, "Emanuel's political climb leaves an old friendship on back burner"
(http://www.suntimes.com/news/brown/132782,CST-NWS-brown12.article)">
And here's the top of my column:
Call him abrasive, cold-blooded, arrogant, manipulative, fierce loyalist, even charming, if it serves his business purpose.


Call him a master political strategist who just out-roved Karl Rove, Bush's politics guru.

Call him a policy wonk, which he would prefer, since it fits his evolving self-image better.

You may correctly call Rep. Rahm Emanuel (D-Ill.) all of the above.

And here is a prediction: Someday, you may be calling Emanuel "Mr. Speaker."

Emanuel's potential trajectory is set as a result of his key role in the Democrats retaking the House last Tuesday. He has been the chief of the House Democratic political operation for the last 22 months.


Takes No. 4 post for now
By almost two decades, Emanuel, who turns 47 on Nov. 29, becomes the youngest member of the incoming House Democratic leadership team when the new Congress is sworn in in January.
He is taking the fourth-ranking leadership post for his reward, rather than the third-ranking slot he could have easily argued he earned. Emanuel saw no reason to get in a fight for third place with an African-American rival who already put in for the job, when the prize that is worth fighting for is one day to be No. 1.

With Emanuel so much in the news, here is a refresher -- the essential Emanuel:

Family home: Traded up from Far North Side Chicago for Wilmette. Graduated from New Trier West. Israeli father, Benjamin, a pediatrician; mother, Marsha, a social worker. Undergraduate Sarah Lawrence; master's in communications from Northwestern University.

Sibs: Ari, super agent to Hollywood stars; Ezekiel, a physician, chairman of the department of bioethics at the National Institutes of Health; Shoshana, rarely mentioned.

Family: Wife, Amy; two daughters and a son. Sliced off tip of index finger of right hand working at a local Arbys at age 17. Ballet dancer.

Religion: Jewish.

Political resume: 1980s, starts with Illinois Public Action Council: runs House Democratic field operations. Fund-raiser for Sen. Paul Simon, Mayor Daley campaigns. Launches alliance with media strategist David Axelrod, his key adviser.

1990s, starts his opposition research firm. 1991, joins the Bill Clinton presidential campaign, moves to Little Rock, Ark. Saves Clinton by raising millions while Clinton is dogged by the Gennifer Flowers scandal.

Clinton White House years: Rewarded with job as White House political director in January 1993. Demoted by June. Resurrected by taking on NAFTA (with Bill Daley), other policy projects. Escapes controversy during impeachment. Leaves White House in 1998, never having to hire a lawyer. Clinton loyalist.

Chicago: Returns to Ravenswood, makes millions as an investment banker in a few deals; tapped by Clinton for a plum spot on Freddie Mac board; Daley appointee on CHA board. Wins House seat in 2002 with help of Daley Machine. Daley loyalist.

Congress: Came in with a running start because he knew Dem leaders from Clinton White House and was seen as a fund-raiser who could work the elite donor network. Demands seat on Ways and Means Committee as price for taking on political job; chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.

The best quote: "He's as cold-blooded as I need him to be to make the decisions." -- House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi on Emanuel, May 27 National Journal.


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12 Comments

Dear M's Sweet
Your Headline should have been'Cold blooded'Emanuel assured
of SHORT hot future.Would you buy a used car from him?He is
the most scrupulous UN-trusting person there ever was in the
Democratic party.He will be found out sooner or later.
They all are.And if as you say,you may be calling Emanuel
"Mr. Speaker"God help us all.
Sincerely Ed Pienkos

Dear Sirs:
The credit given to Rep. Rahm Emanuel, while to a certain extent deserved, seems to discount or minimize the salutary electoral effects on the Democratic party of Howard Dean's efforts. Emanuel's DLC centrism, unconditional support for Israel, and his pro-war stance are, in fact, contrary to the wishes of a broad swath of the Democratic electorate.
It is helpful to note that of 22 House races that Rep. Emanuel identified as "key" ( http://www.rollcall.com/issues/51_113/news/13041-1.html [direct from Roll Call], or https://secure.sage-systems.com/jillderby/press/rollcall.html from Jill Derby's [NV] campaign page), only 8 of those seats were ultimately won by Democrats in Tuesday's election, with one of the 22 still undecided. While batting .364 in baseball will land you in the Hall of Fame, it hardly seems sufficient to anoint Emanuel as the solitary savior of the Democratic party without also acknowledging the huge benefits accruing from Dr. Dean's long-term 50 state strategy.
Best,
Ron Barth, Jr.
Chicago -- O'Hare

I suggest you do better research in the future:
http://www.counterpunch.org/walsh11112006.html
Rahm's Losers: Darcy Burner (WA), Phyllis Busansky (FL), Francine Busby (CA), John Cranley (OH), Jill Derby (NV), Tammy Duckworth (IL), Diane Farrell (CT), Steve Filson (CA), Tessa Hafen (NV), Mary Jo Kilroy (OH), Ken Lucas (KY), Patsy Madrid (NM), Lois Murphy (PA). Winners: Brad Ellsworth (IN), Kirsten Gillibrand (NY), Baron Hill (IN), Ron Klein (FL), Harry Mitchell (AZ), Chris Murphy (CT), Heath Shuler (NC), Peter Welch, who was apparently antiwar (VT). Undecided: Joe Courtney (CT).


Now that the Democrats have won the House overwhelmingly, the media is falling all over itself to proclaim Rahm Emanuel, head of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, and dearest friend of Israel, a boy genius. Even that congenital liar and close friend of Ariel Sharon, the ever tendentious NYT neocon William Safire, came out of retirement to hail Rahm as the Karl Rove of the Dems and to spin the election in various ways designed to keep Emanuel's influence alive.

But is Rahm a boy genius or did the Dem establishments succeed despite him and in fact despite itself? After all, the Dem establishment, partisans of oil, empire and Israel, chose Rahm to lead them. Let's do the numbers to see how Rahm and his employers really did.

On these electronic pages during the electoral season we have tracked the machinations and motives of Rahm Emanuel (1,2). Long ago Rahm chose 22 key races, open or Republican seats, where Dems might win. By any reasonable criteria, all the candidates chosen by Rahm, save perhaps for one, were pro-war as is Emanuel himself. In two cases Rahm had to put in considerable dollars and effort in the primaries to drive out antiwar candidates. He drove out Cegelis in Illinois's 6th CD, at the cost of one million dollars, in favor of Tammy ("Stay the course") Duckworth who lost in the general election. In California's 11th CD primary, Emanuel backed the prowar Steven Filson who lost to the antiwar candidate, Jerry McNerney, who went on to win in the general election.

Looking at all 22 candidates hand-picked by Rahm, we find that 13 were defeated, and only 8 won! (3) (One is still undecided.) And remember that this was the year of the Democratic tsunami and that Rahm's favorites were handsomely financed by the DCCC. Tammy Duckworth, for example, was infused with $3 million ­ and was backed in the primary by HRC, Barack Obama, John Kerry, etc. The Dems have picked up 28 seats so far, maybe more. So out of that 28, Rahm's choices accounted for 8! Since the Dems only needed 15 seats to win the House, Rahm's efforts were completely unnecessary. Had the campaign rested on Rahm's choices, there would have been only 8 or 9 new seats, and the Dems would have lost. In fact, Rahm's efforts were probably counterproductive for the Dems since the great majority of voters were antiwar and they were voting primarily on the issue of the war (60% according to CNN). But Rahm's candidates were not antiwar.

So Rahm Emanuel nearly seized defeat from the jaws of victory. The Dems fully intended to pursue the war and the neocons thought that they had found a new host in the Dem party ­ but the voters now perceive the Dems as antiwar and if they do not deliver, they will be damaged. After all Ralph Nader and Chuck Hagel are waiting in the wings for 2008Either Emanuel is completely incompetent or else Emanuel is putting the interests of Israel ahead of Democratic victories. You decide. In either case why would he remain in a position of influence in the Dem party? A good question.

A footnote to all this is the skullduggery behind the scenes in the campaign of one of Rahm's losers, Diane Farrell, who lost to Christopher Shays in CT. Farrell successfully passed herself off as antiwar in some quarters, getting the last minute endorsement of Katrina Vanden Heuvel at The Nation. But here is Farrell's "plan" for Iraq according to her web site: "Have Congress step up to its proper oversight role and get the administration to articulate and implement a transition plan in which the U.S. will reduce its role and begin to bring troops home. Set achievement benchmarks, rather than dates, for implementing such a pullback." Farrell does not support the Murtha or McGovern bills; she even rejects "timetables," and puts the onus of getting out of Iraq on "the administration" as opposed to Congressional action, namely her had she won. Why would The Nation support such a candidate? Was it simply incompetence, not doing one's homework?

At the same time backers of Farrell, calling themselves Greens, managed to get the hard working and principled Green candidate in her district to withdraw on the basis of "private" and still secret assurances that Farrell would be antiwar in the end. Maybe we will now find out the nature of those assurances. One suspects that if Farrell had adopted a strong antiwar position and challenged her Green opponent that way, rather than conniving to force him out, she might have won the race. But then of course she would have lost Rahm's lucre.

John

'Twould seem that your 11:03 poster, John, and I started from the same place on the 8-for-22 performance of Rahm's candidates. I tried to write my own stuff with initial sourcing from Roll Call, though. Do I get extra points?
rb

LYNN SWEET REPLY
Yes, extra points for your own research.

After wht happened to Christine Cegelis in the 6th if Rahm becomes speaker I will no longer consider myself a democrat. You do not reward that type of behaivor just like we should not reward Stroger for nepotism.

Of course, the real reason the long knives are out for Rahm in the blogosphere is because fought with Saint Howard during the campaign...

You, as well as the arrogant and obnoxious Rahm Emmanuel (and I’m allowed to criticize him because my maiden name is Rahm . . . ), seem to forget that it is Howard Dean’s 50-state strategy that saved the day for the Democrats. While Rahm Emanuel rolled his eyes in disbelief, Dean sent campaigners—and campaign funds—into the red states—such as Utah and Montana—and made the difference. While Rahm whined about sending money to red states, Dean went ahead and did it, successfully. Will the arrogant and obnoxious Rahm give props to Dean? I doubt it. But if you don’t worry about who gets the credit and who gets the blame, you can accomplish miracles, which the Democrats did.

Bonnie Graham

Philadelphia, PA

Lynn is Rham buying the gin and tonics for you or what? Wow they had every issue and had an average year in the 2nd term of a GOP administration. 28 seat pickup. 94' now that was a real whippin, 56 seats! But an unbiased professional journalist like yourself isnt taking sides is she?

LYNN SWEET
no, not taking sides.

yea right. read you headlines and tell me your not biased. pinocchio.

We lost the Speaker of the house in the state od IL, and Lynn thinks that having the #4 Democrat was worth the trade, can you say lots of lost clout on capitol hill? Hastert deserved to lose he was a weak speaker, got to liberal and cost his party the election.

Lynn,
It has been previously reported that Rahm said that Rep. John Murtha "speaks for himself," when he insisted on a change of US Military Policy in Iraq. Lynn, do you have any idea where Rahm stands on the question of new Democratic Majority Leader, especially since Nancy Pelosi has endorsed that same Rep. Murtha for that post. Do you think this will pose any problems for Rahm if Murtha gets it, or will he be a good team player? Just wondering....

LYNN SWEET REPLY
Emanuel is officially neutral

Gerald how many congressional seats did the Larouchies pick up in the mid terms, or governors or senate seats? Just wondering.

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Lynn Sweet

<Lynn Sweet is a columnist and the Washington Bureau Chief for the Chicago Sun-Times.

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