Monday, November 13, 2006

See How They Ran, pt. 2 - Yesterday's Chicago Tribune included a special section entitled, "The House that Rahm built," describing how Rahm Emanuel engineered last week's Democratic takeover of the House of Representatives as Head of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. While the story was far from a "masturpiece" - making frequent mention of his penchant for profanity - it did take a decidedly admiring tone. (Perhaps it was trying to be a "feel-good" story about a local boy making something of himself, especially with the direct-from-Lifetime reminisces from Emanuel's childhood.) The story was undoubtedly more evenhanded than anything Karl Rove or Tom DeLay could expect these days.

But the picture that emerges most clearly from the article is that of Rahm Emanuel as sort of a political Gordon Gekko, someone who would paraphrase the oleaginous character from the movie Wall Street in saying, "Winning is good."

Emanuel believed in being tough. In September 2005, he described a Vietnam veteran he was trying to recruit this way: "I don't know if he's going to win, but I'll tell you this: I don't want to cross [him]. I think he would take out a knife and kill you. I think he would kill you." Emanuel viewed this as an asset.
Emanuel comes across as a man who wants to win for the sake of winning, as if winning elections has become an end wholly apart from the responsibilities of governance. Campaign victories aside, it is apparent that all of this may be a prelude to significant Democratic infighting, as schisms that were temporarily papered over to during the election season reemerge with a vengeance.

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