Emanuel’s got dead eyes — but let’s look at the bright side


Well, this is interesting. We’ve got Lindsey Graham singing Rahm Emanuel’s praises, and I just received commentary from the liberal Rabbi Michael Lerner of Tikkun magazine saying… well, here’s what he said:

Rahm Emanuel is no Reason for Hope or Celebration
    by Rabbi Michael Lerner

    Election night tens of millions of us wept for joy. We sang the songs that we had sung as young men and women when we were fighting segregation in the south and then in the North, some of us being beaten, others jailed, some even killed. For the first time in three decades we could sing "Imagine" and "The Times They are a’Changing" without feeling that we were holding onto utopian fantasies that had been buried by the cynical realists who have shaped public discourse.
    How exciting to believe again in the possibility of America as the potential embodiment of our ideals for social justice, peace, and ecological sanity. We could hardly believe our own eyes-we were living through the rebirth of a nation and its attempt to heal its racist past.
    So no wonder why many of us were shocked and deeply disappointed when we learned on Thursday that Congressman Rahm Emanuel was to be the Chief of Staff in the Obama White House.
    Emanuel, for those who don’t recall, was the Congressman who traveled the country in 2006 finding "suitable" candidates in "swing districts" to run against Republican incumbents, and in many instances he succeeded. But his theory of how to succeed was destructive: he sought the most conservative possible candidates in each district, insisting that local Democratic Party organizations reject more liberal candidates who, he feared, might not win.
    There were many among the House Democrats who deplored this tactic. The main issue on the mind of the electorate was the war in Iraq, and public opinion had moved so far in opposition to that war that the Democratic leadership in the House was pushed to proclaim that it would cut off funding for the war if Democrats won control of Congress. Well, the outcome was that Democrats did win control, but since the candidates that Emanuel picked were more conservative and militarist than the mainstream of the Party, they were not reliable allies when it came to voting against war funding.  Instead of cutting fund for the war, Nancy Pelosi’s house increased the funding, explaining that they had to appear "responsible" in order to solidify their control of Congress in 2008..
    Clever? Not for the people, Americans and Iraqis, killed or wounded in the meantime.   
    This was no mistake on Emanuel’s part. Rahm Emanuel has a long history of militarist ideology behind him. His father was a member of the ultra-right-wing terrorist organization Etzel that killed British civilians as part of their anti-British struggle in Palestine in the 1940s. Emanuel, himself a citizen of Israel as well as the United States, has been one of several Congressional leaders enforcing the "Israel Lobby" concensus on the Democrats, in the process shutting out the peace voices that believe Israel’s security would be better served by the U.S. putting pressure on Israel to end the Occupation, move the Wall to inside the pre-67 boundaries, and remove the settlers from the West Bank or tell them to live there as Palestinian citizens.
    It’s not just the pro-peace and reconciliation forces that are unlikely to be given a serious hearing in a White House in which Rahm Emanuel controls who gets to talk to the President. Emanuel will almost certainly be protecting Obama from all of us spiritual progressives and those of us who describe ourselves as the Religious Left-so that our commitment to single-payer universal health care, carbon taxes for environmental protection, a Homeland Security strategy based on generosity and implemented through a  Global Marshall  Plan, will be unlikely to get a serious hearing in the White House.
    When these issues were avoided by Obama during the campaign, most of us spiritual progressives told ourselves, "He’s just being political, but once elected he’ll reveal himself committed to the values that he whispered into our ears privately over the course of the past many years."  The Rahm Emanuel selection is an early warning that the peace and justice agenda dropped by Obama after he won the Democratic nomination may be permanently on hold, and the progressives themselves may have to settle for "access" and flowery words at an inauguration address rather than the substance of change. For many of us, just the fact of having a brilliant young black man in the White House will be such a healing experience that we won’t care about this newly emerging reality: unless Obama creates some other path to access and to public input into his policies by those of us who helped build his electoral success, or unless we organize to do so outside the framework of his campaign organization, we may be in for lots of disappointments.

Rabbi Michael Lerner is editor of Tikkun Magazine www.tikkun.org, chair of the Network of Spiritual Progressives www.spiritualprogressives.org, author of 11 books (most recently the 2006 national best-seller The Left Hand of God) and as a member of Rabbis for Obama recently debated Bill Kristol about how Jews should vote in the election.

… which, as I read it, sort of gives me further reason to like Mr. Emanuel. No offense there, Rabbi, butRahm2_2
the idea that Obama would pick as his chief of staff someone responsible for recruiting the moderates who gave the Democrats their congressional victory in 2006 (a far cry from the Nancy Pelosis and Harry Reids) is very encouraging to us over here at the UnParty. Rabbi Lerner made me feel a little better with almost every word he wrote. (Except for maybe the bit about his Daddy being a terrorist, which, let’s face it, is a BIT unfair to lay at the younger Mr. Emanuel’s feet.)

But before we hold a party to celebrate, I want to confess the very first impression I had of Mr. Emanuel, when I first saw him standing next to Barack Obama earlier this week (I had heard his name before, but I don’t remember having seen photos of him): He looked like an assassin. He had dead eyes, and something about that and the set of his jaw seemed to communicate that this was one of those True Believers who sees himself as on the side of absolute truth, and anyone in the way will be swept aside ruthlessly. Think of The Operative in "Serenity," without all the warm, fuzzy, faux-conflicted compassion and regret.

So it made perfect sense when I read that Emanuel was expected to play "bad cop" to Obama’s "good cop."

That was my first impression, though. I just note it here to get it on the record. But the more I hear about this guy, the more cautiously optimistic — audaciously hopeful, you could say — I am.


39 thoughts on “Emanuel’s got dead eyes — but let’s look at the bright side

  1. Brad Warthen

    Even MORE good news about Emanuel, from the left-wing Institute for Public Accuracy, which today e-mailed me to say:

    Who is Rahm Emanuel?

        Interviews Available

        An IT professional in the Chicago area, Cegelis ran as the
    Democratic nominee for Congress against longtime incumbent Henry Hyde in
    2004, winning an unexpected 44 percent of the vote. After Hyde announced
    he would be retiring, she attempted to run again in 2006, but Emanuel —
    then head of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee — backed a
    Democrat less critical of the Iraq war, Tammy Duckworth, who defeated
    Cegelis in the primary. Duckworth ended up losing in the general election.
        Cegelis said today: "Emanuel has never backed off from his initial
    support of the invasion of Iraq; he says even knowing everything we know
    now, he’d still back it. I fear that slating Rahm Emanuel for chief of
    staff in a sense cancels out the message from Barack Obama that the Iraq
    war was something we should not have fought in the first place.
    " See
    "Democratic House Officials Recruited Wealthy Conservatives

    The emphasis — the part in bold type — is mine.

    Mr. Emanuel is sounding better and better to me.

  2. Lee Muller

    The duping worked on Brad.
    Let’s wait and see who Obama’s foreign policy appointees are.
    So far, I see no “change”, no reaching across the aisle, just partisan hacks.

  3. Norm Ivey

    Several thoughts come to mind.
    First, this sort of punches a hole in the we’re going to Hell in a Liberal handbasket argument against Obama. Having a hard-nosed conservative Democrat as Chief of Staff will serve to keep Obama aware of when he is drifting too far left.
    Second, it indicates that Obama will do as he said–surround himself with people who do not necessarily agree with him completely, but who will be effective. He has begun to keep at least one promise he made.
    Third, it possibly indicates that Obama might truly be looking to govern from the middle. Centrists in Congress are what many of us hope for. Reaching across the aisle to encourage cooperation and consensus is much easier when you can find common ground with those across the aisle.
    Fourth, if anyone fears that Rahm or Nancy or Harry is going to steamroll over Obama’s agenda, they might want to discuss the liklihood of such an occurrence with some professionals–like Bill and Hillary Clinton and the GOP. Obama is no pushover.
    I know little about this Emanuel fellow yet, but he sounds like the right kind of Chief of Staff to me (so far).

  4. Mark

    Looks like Mossad already owns Obama (he picked Rahm Emanuel, the son of a terrorist). Obama will probably let Mossad slide on their 9/11 involvement and Obama will continue their wars. So who won? Israel did, as always.

  5. Brad Warthen

    Well, let’s hope so.

    Speaking of Firefly characters — which I did, in passing, above — if you’re into the ill-fated series, you might want to try the "Which ‘Firefly’ character are you?" quiz.

    But you might be disappointed. I tried it, and it said I was The Operative — which is kinda creepy. So I tried it again, giving slightly different answers on questions where I had been ambivalent — and it said I was Simon Tam (definitely my least favorite character), which we know is wrong. So I tried again, and it said I was Shepherd Book.

    So consider yourself warned that the quiz is fatally flawed, because obviously, I’m either Captain Mal or my favorite character, Jayne Cobb.

    Actually, my favorite character is Kaylee, but not to identify with, you know.

    Anyway, back to serious bidness…

  6. Lee Muller

    I am amazed at how many people still delude themselves by dismissing the socialist agenda of Barack Obama.
    It may not be the exact same agenda as Pelosi and Reid, but they are not in any sort of disagreement on rasing taxes, confiscating assets, nationalization of entire business sectors, trying to take away Constitutional rights, like the Right to Keep and Bear Arms, etc.
    Brad, of course, still is lost in his escape world of DVD fiction.

  7. Lee Muller

    FEC Audit of Obama Campaign –
    53,828 foreign donations, totaling just under $30 million
    ABC News
    Jake Tapper
    October 05, 2008 4:59 PM
    The Republican National Committee announced today that on Monday it will file a fundraising complaint with the Federal Election Commission against the presidential campaign of Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., charging the Democrat has accepted illegal donations from foreigners as well as contributions that exceed the $2,300-per-person federal limits from American citizens.
    Obama’s campaign has raised almost $460 million so far, and almost half that has been raised by small donors contributing less than $200. RNC chief counsel Sean Cairncross today noted in a conference call that questions have arisen about those smaller donations, which by law the campaign is not required to disclose.
    Newsweek reported over the weekend that FEC auditors have asked the Obama campaign about a number of contributors whose contributions seem to violate campaign laws, such as “Good Will” of Austin, Texas, who listed his occupation as “You” and his employer as “Loving” and gave more than $11,000 total in $10 and $25 increments. Another questionable donor, “Doodad Pro” of Nunda, N.Y., gave $17,130 in similarly small increments.
    “The Obama campaign has a track record of accepting these,” Cairncross said.
    He also said that “the Obama campaign has accepted contributions from foreign nationals and has knowingly done so through at least its failure to reasonably investigate where all this money is coming from.” The RNC will ask the FEC to audit these smaller donations.
    Earlier this year the Obama campaign returned more than $30,000 from Monir and Hosam Edwan, two Palestinian brothers in the Gaza Strip who said that they’d purchased Obama 2008 T-shirts in bulk from the Obama campaign Web site.
    The FEC had asked for the redesignation or refund of 53,828 foreign donations, totaling just under $30 million.
    But none involves the donors who never appear in the Obama campaign reports, which the [Center for Responsive Politics] estimates at nearly half the $426.8 million the Obama campaign has raised to date.

  8. p.m.

    Rahm Emanuel, like Chuck Schumer in the picture above, has a face I wouldn’t believe even his wife could trust.
    He looks like a different kind of family, Chicago-style.
    Watch your backs, folks — and your wallets.

  9. Michelle

    I for one can’t wait for Obama to launch his socialist agenda. Lee Muller will be the happiest person on the planet as he’ll get to say “I told you so”. In the meantime, he’ll just continue to post his venom and hatred of all that is Democratic and “liberal” in this country while his own party continues to disintegrate (right along with the country) before his very eyes. There’s something you people just don’t get: we tried it your way for 8 years: it was a monumental failure on every front. But hey at least now Nixon won’t go down in history as the worst president ever! Who says Bush wasn’t good at something?

  10. Lee Muller

    Michelle, I am a liberal, a real one.
    We want everyone to have the same opportunity to succeed on their own efforts.
    Obama is a Marxist.
    Marxists want everyone, except themselves, to have the same living conditions: miserable, poor, and frightened.
    Most politicians are just opportunists who have molded themselves to appeal to constituency groups.
    Democrats appeal to the poor, the angry, the lazy, the envious – and they intend to maintain them in that condition in order to maintain voters.

  11. Phillip

    As for appealing to the poor and lazy and envious, Obama beat McCain by 6 percentage points among voters with incomes OVER $200,000..
    As for Emanuel and Schumer, interesting that we are told that their very physionomies are sufficient to be alarming to us…let’s see, what would their features tell us that they have in common? And this warning was something about money…?
    And there’s concern about us all being “mutts”? Like that’s a bad thing, the dilution of racial identity…hmmm…this is sounding awfully familiar.

  12. p.m.

    As it happens, Phillip, I have a doctorate in anthroposcopy from the University of New Jersey at Columbia, S.C., sometimes known as the Spurrier College of Petty Theft and Social Disease.
    But, seriously, if the dilution of racial identity is a good thing, as your post infers, why did Obama spend so much time in his youth working on his racial identity?
    It’s a nifty little Catch 22, also, to insist that race means nothing but to be so proud that America elected its first black president.
    After these first few days of impending Obama, I wouldn’t be surprised to hear he actually will appoint Bill Ayers to something.
    It’s looking like Obama’s bipartisan stance was just a (perish the thought) campaign facade.

  13. Rich

    I am all in favor of a hard swing to the left politically in the new administration. Bipartisanship is just fine provided it does not imply equality between the two major parties in Congress. Let’s not forget that the Republicans were pounded into rubble by the last two elections (06 and 08). They are now a second-rate, minority, regional party composed largely of cynical businessmen, racists, yahoos, fundamentalist full-mooners, and, most importantly, low-information voters.
    It would be great to reach across the aisle if only the Dems had someone worthy of respect with whom to partner.
    Unless the Democrats screw it up, we are witnessing a basic shift in American politics on the order of what occurred in 1932 with the election of FDR. Big, liberal, social-democratic government all of a sudden looks mighty appealing to people swimming in debt, high energy prices, and job losses–all occurring while the rich just keep on getting richer and complain ever louder about parting with any of their lucre to support the commonwealth from which they derive disproportionate benefit on all levels.
    On a cultural level, Barack’s win is a victory for laissez-faire. Those who fervently wish the Supreme Court would acquire a few more justices like Clarence Thomas and Antonin Scalia who do not believe that the 14th Amendment incorporates the Bill of Rights into the obligations of state and local government toward citizens have been decisively defeated.
    Sorry, Brad, women will retain the right to choose, and if Barack appoints jurists to the high court with a firm commitment to individual civil rights regardless of the religious inclinations of the majority, then travesties such as the California vote against gay marriage will also, ultimately be overturned.
    I am all in favor of people believing whatever they want on faith–just so long as none of it gets imposed upon me! I am, like Bill Maher, a committed rationalist.

  14. p.m.

    Yeah, Rich, just as long as whatever you want gets imposed on us, you’re down with it, huh?
    So you’re a Social Studies teacher who refers to Obama by his first name and identifies with (gulp) Bill Maher.
    We are reaching the edge of the precipice, it appears. I’m gonna run down to Wal Mart and see if they can sell me a parachute.

  15. Rich

    Dear Hannah, P.M., Lee, and the other right-wing Full-Mooners who contribute to this blog:
    The way you think is precisely the reason why we need constitutional reform to democratize the franchise by assuring that all our representatives and senators are elected according to population, not according to states which has resulted for 230 years in an imbalance in the Senate between small and large states.
    Small states tend to be rural and conservative (with the possible exception of Rhode Island and Vermont); there is absolutely no reason why Low-Information voters from rural states should dominate the Senate or any part of the federal government.
    Seventy per cent of Americans support Roe v. Wade as well as a simple majority in favor of gay rights. Americans also favor by wide margins the teaching of evolution in the schools and church-state separation. The majority also favor full civil rights and political equality for all of our minorities.
    Let us not forget that the most religious part of the country, the South, was that part of the country that staunchly resisted civil rights and integration for African Americans all the way up to 1970 and beyond.
    How do we explain this paradox?

  16. Lee Muller

    A lot of the North still isn’t racially integrated. They were having race riots on Boston in the 1980s. Los Angeles and Detroit have had race riots since then.
    Obama ran on his skin color and promises of more welfare and reparations from Whitey.
    That is not racial progress.

  17. p.m.

    Rich, if you presume to know how I think, you err. I doubt you could go there. You haven’t seen enough yet.
    I have no problem with civil rights or church-state separation, though I do have some problems with the methods we have applied to create those ideals.
    I do, though, have problems with teaching evolution as fact, not theory, and defining gay rights.
    And I have a problem, here in this agrarian representative democracy, with your desire to disenfranchise the rural hands that feed your thankless, semi-educated self.
    I also have a problem with your use of your teaching position as a podium for indoctrination.
    So beware the p.m. full moon. It may illuminate truths that surprise you.

  18. Rich

    P.M., you and the Republicans in general have lost the election, pure and simple. This one wasn’t a squeaker. Obama got 7 million more votes than your cracker of a candidate and the Congress acquired a deeper shade of blue.
    As for evolution, it is indeed a fact. You just don’t understand the scientific use of the word theory. Theory is a conceptual organization of factual material that both explains that material and predicts future behavior. It is subject to empirical revision as scholarship and science advance their course. In that sense, evolution is a theory in the same way that gravitation or relativity are theories. They explain facts and predict future outcomes and discoveries. The same approach obtains in the study of history and the social sciences.
    As for America being an agrarian representative democracy, I would ask where have you been? The US has long since left behind agriculture and is currently entering a post-industrial phase of economic development. Our most lucrative industries have been technological and financial–the latter until recently. We will never revert to an industrial economy similar to that of China or India, nor will we ever be the agricultural republic that existed prior to and immediately after the civil war. That’s all over.
    As for my using my teaching position to indoctrinate, it is not I who have been doing this. The majority of teachers I encounter in our schools are middle-aged, white, and conservative. I think it’s one of the main reasons why they have so many discipline problems with African American children. When social studies teachers express contempt for the candidacy of Barack Obama in class, shut down discussion, poo-poo slavery, Jim Crow, and the contract labor system that used to exist in the South–when they convey to students implicitly their belief in the superiority of white culture to which they would love to initiate their black students, then it should come as no surprise that we continue to be educationally ineffective in S.C.
    My mom remembers being beaten in the schoolyard by teachers for speaking French; I remember almost being forced into special ed. because my English was shaky (I grew up in a Catholic, Franco-American home) as a kid.
    Anglo-Saxon culture historically has been racist and culturally imperialist. But the truth about America is that we are not all like native white South Carolinians–and that we have just as much right to call ourselves Americans and be here as anyone else without having white, Anglo-Saxon, protestant, English-only values forced down our throats.
    American citizenship is not based on blood and soil, but rather on a common civic citizenship that derives from one document–the Constitution, and specifically the 14th Amendment.

  19. Obama08

    Obama seems to have made an excellent pick in Rahm Emanuel. He helped give the dems a majority in congress. Yeah, some were conservative dems, but what more could you expect from conservative southern districts.
    Cegelis seemed mad that Emanuel picked pushed Duckworth over her in a congressional race. Another good choice. Cegelis got 44 porcent and Duckworth 49 percent 2 years later, in a very conservative district. Emanuel’s work nearly pulled off the impossible. Win in Henry Hyde’s old district. Emanuel will help Obama get the right people to get as much as reasonably possible of his agenda passed. That might mean a number of republicans along with democrats. So what, Obama’s campaign was based on unity and this is what I believe the majority of his voters world want.

  20. p.m.

    I’ve been on my farm, Rich, growing cotton and corn, running for school board and winning.
    We still have farms here in America, you know.
    People wear clothes. They eat.
    Some wonder about evolution. Some just practice their faith.
    Somehow, we have to keep everything in perspective.
    Sometimes, we have to agree to disagree.
    For me, this is one of those times.

  21. Lee Muller

    “Rich” sounds like another poor sucker who voted for Obama’s message of hate and get-even targeting the Anglo-Saxons.
    They cheer the promises of retribution and reparations to punish the “the rich”, whites and Jews, then tell us that Obama “will rule from the center”.
    “Rule”? Ooooops!

  22. Lee Muller

    Dear Reader,
    I suspect I was registering black voters long before you were born.
    It’s a safe bet that you have never done anything personally to advance true civil rights. Your type pats themselves on the back for having the right compassionate attitude. Usually, the white pseudo-liberals also have their own form of racism, in their belief that blacks and Latinos are incapable of making it on their own.

  23. Reader

    You are just provoking me, Lee.
    I guarantee I will personally advance true civil rights, personally, physically, loudly, and proudly in the next civil war. Wherever it may start. I hope it starts here again. I missed the last one.

  24. Reader

    I suspect you have never sat at a public library and taught a black mother to read. A mother who saw five children graduate from college, but couldn’t read their diplomas. So there — I am not a pseudo-anything, Mr. Lee Muller.

  25. Lee Muller

    I don’t believe you ever did any such thing, Anonymous Reader. You don’t even appear to read anything, yourself.

  26. Reader

    What I don’t do is watch a lot of mafioso tv programs. So I didn’t know that mailing a dead fish to someone can be a “sleeps with the fishes” thing from “The Godfather.” My 1/2 Sicilian, 1/2 Redneck husband informed me of this yesterday.
    But I still like Rahmbo!

  27. Reader

    Lee, I voted for the same guy this guy voted for:
    — but I am not going to get an ulcer over what we now have to work with, and will respect our President, Barack Obama. Say it, and you will get used to it.
    President Barack Obama.President Barack Obama.President Barack Obama.President Barack Obama.President Barack Obama.President Barack Obama.President Barack Obama.President Barack Obama.President Barack Obama.President Barack Obama.President Barack Obama.

  28. Lee Muller

    Obama didn’t run as president of all Americans. He ran as president of black reparations, ignorant youngsters who wanted to prove they were cool by voting for an unqualified half-black, corrupt lobbyists, and elite white liberals who avoid most income taxes, and that is where he got most of his votes.

  29. Lee Muller

    Rahm Emmanuel is already talking about MANDATORY community service for the young and old.
    Apparently, there aren’t enough of the Obama followers willing to volunteer to “make sacrifices”.
    Besides, under socialism, everyone is supposed to be FORCED to work on stupid, useless projects dreamed up by the “rulers” (another word used by Obama staffers to describe Mr. Obama)
    Video clip

Comments are closed.