The People Who Surround Barack Obama – Part 8

In this post, we highlight the career of Barack (The Nazarine) Obama’s newest Chief of Staff: Rahm Emmanuel.

A man who definitely is a “uniter” and not a “divider”.

Who is Rahm Emmanuel?  Well, here’s a description of the man from his own website:

Rahm Emanuel, 48, is a leader in Congress committed to addressing the challenges facing families across the nation. Since taking the oath of office in 2003, he has been a strong, effective voice for Chicago in Congress.

At the beginning of his second term, Emanuel received an assignment to serve on the House Ways and Means Committee, which oversees taxes, trade, Social Security, and Medicare issues. Additionally, Emanuel was appointed by then House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi to serve as Chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.  Under his leadership, the DCCC expanded the Democratic Party’s reach in every region of the country.  Democrats gained 30 seats in the House and ushered in a new Democratic majority in the House of Representatives.

In January of 2007, the new majority elected Emanuel to serve as Democratic Caucus Chair, the 4th highest ranking Member of the House Democratic Leadership. 

As Chair, Emanuel led the Democratic Caucus in fulfilling its campaign promise to pass legislation reflecting the values and priorities of the American people.  In the first 100 legislative hours, Democrats passed sweeping ethics reform, strengthened our national security, increased minimum wage, expanded stem cell research, lowered the cost of prescription drugs, cut interest rates on student loans, and ended the subsidies for the oil industry.

Emanuel began his career with the consumer rights organization Illinois Public Action. He worked on Paul Simon’s 1984 election to the U.S. Senate and in 1989 served as a senior advisor and chief fundraiser for Richard M. Daley.  Emanuel served as a senior advisor to President Bill Clinton. After leaving the White House, Emanuel returned to Chicago to serve as a managing director at a leading global investment bank.

Emanuel graduated from Sarah Lawrence College in 1981, and received a Master’s Degree in Speech and Communication from Northwestern University in 1985. He is a resident of Chicago’s Ravenswood neighborhood where he and his wife are raising three children.

However, this sanitized version of his career is not as colorful as other reports claim.  CNN did a little biopic on him not too long ago:

Then he started shooting off his mouth. There was the time he rapped on a conference table to get “Lloyd’s” attention. (“We were all aghast,” recalls one Clinton aide, noting that even Lloyd Bentsen’s wife still called the Treasury Secretary “Senator.” ) He had a very public run-in with the late Senator Patrick Moynihan, who accused him of being the source of an anonymous quote that “we’ll roll all over [Moynihan] if we have to” on welfare reform. (Emanuel denied saying it.) Most damaging were Emanuel’s battles with Hillary Clinton loyalists, who accused him of leaks about the travel office episode.

Emanuel’s in-your-face money demands make him stand out in a party that has sometimes been a little prissy about big-donor fundraising. “Republicans understand power and that you need money to get power. Our guys don’t,” complains one of the party’s leading funders. Colleagues say Emanuel has become adept at the care and feeding of big donors-knowing their interests, asking about their families, sending them cheesecakes from Chicago’s Eli’s Bakery. He’s expanded the DCCC’s donor base, appealing both to like-minded young financiers and big-business donors with GOP ties who are hedging their bets this fall.

On Iraq, Emanuel has steered clear of the withdraw-now crowd, preferring to criticize Bush for military failures since the 2003 invasion. “The war never had to turn out this way,” he told me at one of his campaign stops. In January 2005, when asked by Meet the Press’s Tim Russert whether he would have voted to authorize the war-“knowing that there are no weapons of mass destruction”-Emanuel answered yes. (He didn’t take office until after the vote.) “I still believe that getting rid of Saddam Hussein was the right thing to do, okay?” he added.

But wait, it gets better.  Rahm is known for his unassertive manner, as the following Time article notes:

Has been known to send out cheesecakes from Eli’s Bakery in Chicago to campaign donors and the many Democratic candidates he has recruited over the years. Once, when a pollster made him angry, Emanuel sent him a dead fish.

Nice.  Want more?  I fond the following in Rolling Stone:

Friends and enemies agree that the key to Emanuel’s success is his legendary intensity. There’s the story about the time he sent a rotting fish to a pollster who had angered him. There’s the story about how his right middle finger was blown off by a Syrian tank when he was in the Israeli army. And there’s the story of how, the night after Clinton was elected, Emanuel was so angry at the president’s enemies that he stood up at a celebratory dinner with colleagues from the campaign, grabbed a steak knife and began rattling off a list of betrayers, shouting “Dead! . . . Dead! . . . Dead!” and plunging the knife into the table after every name. “When he was done, the table looked like a lunar landscape,” one campaign veteran recalls. “It was like something out of The Godfather. But that’s Rahm for you.”

Of the three stories, only the second is a myth — Emanuel lost the finger to a meat slicer as a teenager and never served in the Israeli army. But it’s a measure of his considerable reputation as the enforcer in Clinton’s White House that so many people believe it to be true. You don’t earn the nickname “Rahmbo” being timid.

And his relationship to Obama?  Well:

Obama has been close to Emanuel since arriving on Capitol Hill; Emanuel considers David Axelrod, Obama’s chief strategist, to be one of his closest friends. The three share a common policy view and would make a formidable triumvirate in the White House. Emanuel found himself under pressure during the Democratic presidential primaries to back Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, given his relationship with her husband. But he stayed neutral and ultimately endorsed Obama.

Both Obama and Emanuel are from Chicago.

Mind you, this was Obama’s first pick.  The candidate that went around claiming that he’ll bring change to Washington, and to help all of us, has picked one of the most vicious, partisan, inside-the-beltway pitbulls that can be found lurking about the halls of the DNC.

The man is little more than a thug.

Welcome to “Change” part of “Hope and Change”.


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