Emanuel pick shows change is state of mind
He's an able political infighter, and if you were in a fight, you'd probably want Emanuel with you. He's smart and ruthless, and he knows politics. Perhaps that's why Obama chose him. But it's not reform
It took only 36 hours for President-elect Barack Obama to take the off ramp from the Change We Can Believe In Highway and slam his foot on the gas in the express lanes of the Chicago Way.
Who is Rahm Emanuel?
Because with his first official act, Obama selected a Chicago Daley machine guy for his chief of staff, U.S. Rep. Rahm Emanuel (D-Tomczak).
So much for transcending politics as we know it, eh?
"I announce this appointment first because the chief of staff is central to the ability of a president and administration to accomplish an agenda," Obama said in a news release. "And no one I know is better at getting things done than Rahm Emanuel."
Among Chicago politicians, the Emanuel announcement was treated with enthusiasm. But it was enthusiasm of the political salivary gland at the prospect of federal pork and leverage.
"It's a gain," said Mayor Richard Daley, speculating on all the contracts he would be able to give with new federal money. "It's a real gain, gain, gain," he said, repeating the word as if in prayer.
Chicago may have a history of corruption, but our politicians are realists. They're not fools. And Emanuel, though he has many critics, is no fool.
From Washington, however, you could hear that giant sucking sound as the Washington media praised Emanuel, as if the appointment was testament to change. There was so much sucking up, they may have created an El Niño effect that will plague our planet for years.
Some of the sucking up is understandable because their currency is access and, as chief of staff, Emanuel will be gatekeeper to the president. But the least they could have done was rate themselves NC-17. And they could have acknowledged what they were doing, which was praising him to their readers and viewers in hopes of maintaining or guaranteeing that access.
Washington media types talk about him as a Clinton guy, but Emanuel is really a Chicago City Hall guy. At City Hall, the unwritten rule is we don't want nobody nobody sent. The guy who sent Emanuel to then-candidate Bill Clinton in 1991 is named Daley. Bill Daley, the mayor's brother.
Loyal readers know why I put the (D-Tomczak) at the end of Emanuel's name. It refers to the corrupt Daley administration Water Department boss, Donald Tomczak, now in federal prison in Duluth, Minn. He sits there because he was convicted of bribery. Emanuel didn't have anything to do with that. But he was a political beneficiary of Tomczak and the Chicago Way.
Two years ago, at the federal trial of Mayor Daley's patronage chiefs—who were eventually convicted for building an illegal political army of city patronage workers to maintain the mayor's control on Chicago—Tomczak was a key witness.
And he testified that he was ordered to put his political regiments on the streets in 2002 to elect Emanuel and defeat a liberal Democratic grass-roots candidate. The mayor put hundreds of political hacks on the city payroll stumping for Emanuel back then. Tomczak controlled them. They were afraid not to work the precincts. It was the only way for them to get promotions.
Emanuel was elected. So if there wasn't a Tomczak, putting the army out for Emanuel, then Emanuel wouldn't have been in Congress. Emanuel really can't stand it when I mention Tomczak, and he has told me so, personally. He's entitled.
"You're right," he said in a newsroom confrontation a few years ago. "You keep mentioning him in connection with me in your column. That bothers me because I'm more than that."
I agree. He's an able political infighter, and if you were in a fight, you'd probably want Emanuel with you. He's smart and ruthless, and he knows politics. Perhaps that's why Obama chose him. But it's not reform.
We're about to see why President-elect Uh-bama remained so vague about what he meant by ''Change''. Putting his own personal Canary Island fighting dog in as Chief of Staff is an ominous first move. Do you suppose Emanuel will be chief of the brownshirtscivilian defense force? Hmm.
By his first appointment of perhaps the most vicious partisan thugs in Washington as White House Chief of Shaft, Obama has fired a warning shot to the whole country.
What's next, Jack Kevorkian as Surgeon General?
He picks Emanuel and then insults Nancy Reagan. We're getting a quick glimpse of the real Obama. This is not going to be pretty.
We're about to be hammered by these thugs and I can already see the Republicans in the Senate cowering in fear.
Rahm Emanuel Personal life:
Rahm Israel Emanuel was born in Chicago, Illinois. His first name, Rahm, means "high" or "lofty" in Hebrew, while his last name, Emanuel, means "God is with us." According to his father, his son is the namesake of Rahamim, a Lehi combatant who was killed. Rahm’s surname was adopted by his family in 1933, after Rahm’s paternal uncle, Emanuel Auerbach, was killed in a skirmish with Arabs in Jerusalem. His father, the Jerusalem-born Benjamin M. Emanuel, is a pediatrician and former member of the Irgun, a Zionist militia active in the British Mandate of Palestine between 1931 and 1948. His mother, Martha Smulevitz, worked as an X-ray technician and was the daughter of a local union organizer. She became a civil rights activist; she was also once the owner of a Chicago-area rock and roll club. The two met in Chicago in the 1950s.Emanuel's older brother, Ezekiel, is an oncologist and bioethicist, and his brother Ari is a talent agent in Los Angeles who inspired Jeremy Piven's character Ari Gold on the HBO series Entourage. Emanuel himself is the inspiration for the character Josh Lyman on The West Wing. Emanuel is a first cousin of Howard Stern Show writer Benjy Bronk. Emanuel also has a younger adopted sister named Shoshanna, 14 years his junior.
When his family lived in Chicago, he attended Bernard Zell Anshe Emet Day School, a Jewish day school. After his family moved to Wilmette, he attended public school: Romona School, Wilmette Junior High School, and New Trier West High School. He and his brothers attended summer camp in Israel. At some point during his high school years, while working at an Arby's restaurant, Emanuel severely cut his right middle finger. He sought medical attention only after suffering severe infection as a result of the wound, resulting in the partial amputation of the finger.
He graduated from Sarah Lawrence College in 1981, and went on to receive a master's degree in Speech and Communication from Northwestern University in 1985. While still an undergraduate, he joined the congressional campaign of David Robinson of Chicago.
Emanuel was a civilian volunteer in the Israel Defense Forces during the 1991 Persian Gulf War, repairing truck brakes in one of Israel's northern bases.
Emanuel's wife, Amy Rule, a graduate of the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, converted to Modern Orthodox Judaism shortly before her wedding. They are members of Anshe Sholom B'nai Israel, a Modern Orthodox congregation in Chicago. They have three children, son Zachariah and daughters Ilana and Leah.
Rabbi Asher Lopatin of Anshe Sholom B'nai Israel Congregation is quoted as saying: "It's a very involved Jewish family"; "Amy was one of the teachers for a class for children during the High Holidays two years ago."Emanuel has said of his Judaism: "I am proud of my heritage and treasure the values it has taught me." Emanuel's family lives on the North Side of Chicago, in the North Center neighborhood.
Emanuel trains for and participates in triathlons.