Huffpost Politics
THE BLOG

Featuring fresh takes and real-time analysis from HuffPost's signature lineup of contributors

The Relentless Conservative Headshot

Obama Staff Profiles: Rahm Emanuel

Posted: Updated:
Print

"He who blinded by ambition, raises himself to a position whence he cannot mount higher, must thereafter fall with the greatest loss."
Niccolo Machiavelli (1469-1527)

While Rahm Emanuel is listed as a "politician" in his Wikipedia entry, he's not. Emanuel is a Democratic operative at the highest levels; he bleeds Dem blue. He wasn't a politician until well after quelling all the Clinton scandals.

Recently, he seems most well-known for his horrendous (to me) comment on Obama strategy, "You never want a serious crisis to go to waste." What do you suppose he meant by that? We all know what he meant.

He's nothing more than a James Carville without the southern drawl. Yikes, now this guy is mayor of Chicago? (Remember, this is the city that spawned both Richard Daleys and Al Capone.)

2011-10-12-RahmEmanuel.jpg

"Rahmbo" as the Conservatives generally call him was born in Chicago to devoutly Jewish parents. "Rahm" means "high" or "lofty" in Hebrew and it appears that his parents had lofty aspirations for Rahm, his two brothers and adopted sister.

Older brother Ezekiel is an oncology doctor and little brother Ari is a high-flying talent agent in Hollywood, the co-CEO of the William Morris Agency, which (coincidentally) represents Michael Moore (perfect for a Liberal!) among others and is generally thought to be the character behind Ari Gold, played by Jeremy Piven on HBO's Entourage.

But let us concentrate for a moment on the "Jewishness" of Emanuel's family and background. His father, born in Jerusalem, was a member of Irgun, a Jewish paramilitary squad which operated in Mandate Palestine. If this alone doesn't communicate a family faith tied to Judaism, a support of Israel and a seriously aggressive familial nature towards the "Palestinian question," then I don't know what does.

Throw in the facts that most Emanuel family members have Hebrew names; he and his brothers regularly attended summer camp in Israel; and the family name of "Emanuel" (meaning: "God is with us") was adopted in honor of his uncle who was killed in the 1948 Arab-Israeli War in Jerusalem.

Finally, Rahm volunteered during the Gulf War for the Israeli Defense Forces.

Now here's the thing I can't figure out and which leaves me slack-jawed with stupefaction: How in the world could Rahm Emanuel support Obama much less help him get elected President, when Obama has showed nothing but contempt for Israel and Netanyahu and has been the newest, bestest friend to Palestinians?

Here are a couple of factoids I'll bet you didn't know about Rahm Emanuel:

**When working at Arby's, Emanuel badly injured his finger on a slicer. After swimming, the injury got infected and the finger was partially amputated.

**Emanuel's mother made him take ballet lessons as a child and he was eventually offered a scholarship to the Joffrey Ballet, preferring to attend Sarah Lawrence College where he could also dance his way through school.

The last one creates an oxymoronic moment: Why is a guy called "Rahmbo" which is clearly meant to imply a 'tough-guy' status when he grew up prancing around in a tutu? It seems highly incongruous to me and may well represent the core of politics--misrepresenting the reality.

After working for Paul Simon's 1984 US Senate election and Richard Daley's successful campaign for Chicago Mayor, Emanuel fell into a great position for himself: He became finance director for Bill Clinton's meteoric Presidential campaign in 1992 (which would be the precedent for Obama's).

It was after he received the proceeds of his hard work and stalwart support to the Clintons, that Emanuel worked in several key positions in the White House and began to acquire a reputation for harshness and 'badassedness.'

Though he was demoted by Clinton as Political Director in 1993 in a very humiliating, public fashion, Rahmbo's exploits were legend. During this period he was known to:

**Famously send a dead fish to a pollster who slighted him and Clinton;

**Stab a dinner table repeatedly at a celebration dinner the night after Clinton was elected. Railing against a long list of Clinton enemies, stabbing the table with a sharp steak knife with each name. "Nat Landow ... dead!! Cliff Jackson ... dead!!" All while little George Stephanopoulos and other Clintonistas egged him on chuckling and guffawing as they went. (What splendid people we had running America in the 1990s.)

**Tell Tony Blair, "Don't fuck it up" just as Blair was set to appear with Clinton and take the eyes of America off of the Monica Lewinsky mess. (How charming this Dem operative is.)

What a real sweetheart this Rahm Emanuel is. I'd love to meet him in a dark alley sometime; him wearing his tutu and me in full football gear.

Jose Certa, former Clintonite, said about Rahmbo, "We joke that someone should open a special trauma ward in Washington for people who've worked for Rahm." Hmmm, some joke.

On his reputation as a Democratic 'attack dog,' Emanuel even contributed this gem about himself, "I wake up some mornings hating me too." (Chicago Tribune, 11/12/06) I don't know about you, but I'd prefer to have other, more positive personalities in charge of our government.

"A Prince should therefore have no other aim or thought, nor take up any other thing for his study but war and its organization and discipline, for that is the only art that is necessary to one who commands."
Niccolo Machiavelli (1469-1527)