Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Rahm Emanuel Gets a Beat Down

President Obama brought one of his best friends from Chicago with him to Washington DC. Rahm Emanuel is infamous for his filthy mouth and his take no prisoners style. The following anecdotes from Obama speeches give insight into Rahm Emanuel's character and personality. It is said that they contain more than a grain of truth. The speech excerpts come from an article by Roger Simon. They read as follows.

"At the Radio-Television News Directors Association dinner last week, Obama said: “In Egypt, we had the opportunity to tour the pyramids. And by now, I’m sure you’ve all seen the pictures of Rahm on that camel. I admit, I was a little nervous about the whole situation. I said at the time, ‘This is a wild animal known to bite, kick and spit. And who knows what the camel could do?’”

At the White House Correspondents’ Association dinner last month on the day before Mother’s Day, Obama said: “This is a tough holiday for Rahm Emanuel because he’s not used to saying the word ‘day’ after ‘mother.’”

In 2005, at a roast to raise money for Citizens United for Research in Epilepsy, then-newly elected Sen. Obama said of Emanuel: “I think, as many of you were aware, he was working at a deli, [had an] accident with a meat slicing machine, he lost part of his middle finger, and as a result of this, this rendered him practically mute.”

It seems that the chuckles are fading away in Washington. Rahm Emanuel has been doing some of his legendary arm twisting, attempting to mute criticism of Barack Obama's stimulus package. With a lifetime of getting paid for doing what he does best, perhaps Rahm Emanuel was surprised, but there is a stink brewing in Washington over his not so veiled threats to cut money from state budgets of those who oppose Obama's economic programs.

The Web Site for the Committe on Oversight and Government Reform had a lot to say about Rahm Emanuel's brass knuckles style of persuasion. Darrell Issa (R) CA is quoted as follows on the Committee web site.

WASHINGTON. D.C. – Following reports that White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel has been orchestrating an effort to intimidate members of Congress and Governors who raise legitimate concerns regarding the effectiveness of the stimulus, House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform Ranking Member Darrell Issa (R-CA) sent a letter to Emanuel saying “While this type of scare tactic may work In Chicago, it will not work to intimidate me or other Members of the United States Congress.”
“I and others have dared to bring these facts to the attention of President Obama, the Congress and the American people,” Issa wrote. “You’ve unfortunately reacted by once again resorting to the playbook of the Chicago political machine.”
Last month, Politico reported that Emanuel had “launched a coordinated effort to jam” Senator Kyl and other Administration critics… “[A]fter seeing Kyl and House Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R-VA) again paint the legislation as a failure on Sunday talk shows, White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel directed that the letters from the Cabinet secretaries be sent to [Governor] Brewer, according to two administration officials.”
Issa noted, “The fact that the letters were coordinated by you to maximize the level of intimidation is supported by the timing, structure, and content of each letter. Not only were the four letters all sent the day following Senator Kyl’s remarks, but they were also remarkably similar in tone and sentence structure.”

What did the letters say that was so upsetting to Issa? The following is an excerpt from a letter sent by Ray Hood to Arizona Governor Jan Brewer.

On Sunday, Arizona Senator Jon Kyl publicly questioned whether the stimulus is working and stated that he wants to cancel projects that aren’t presently underway. I believe the stimulus has been very effective in creating job opportunities throughout the country. However, if you prefer to forfeit the money we are making available to your state, as Senator Kyl suggests, please let me know [emphasis added].

Ken Salazar, Secretary of the Interior chimed in at the same time with a similarly worded letter. It reads as follows.

Some key Republican leaders in Congress have publicly questioned whether the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act is working and suggested cancelling all projects that are not currently in progress. I believe they are wrong. The stimulus funds provided through the Recovery Act are a very effective way to create job opportunities throughout the Country. However, if you prefer to forfeit the money we are making available to Arizona, please let me know [emphasis added].

The Rahm Emanuel bare knuckles style of dealing with the Republican opposition is turning a lot of people off. Rahm Emanuel and his handlers will ultimately have to face the American people. Regardless of the trust placed in Obama by the American electorate, his ideas about the economy face determined and well reasoned opposition. The ideas of fiscal responsibility and helping the economy heal itself have bipartisan support. The difficult times we are coping with should be faced by the American people as a united front. The strength and resonance of ideas should rule, and not the party label. Chicago (or New York) style arm twisting has no place in discussions this critical to our nation's funeral.

My personal opinion is that a diminished Democratic plurality would force the proponents of fiscal irresponsibility to listen to reason. This is what arm twisting is meant to be in a democratic society. Rahm Emanuel has shown us with unadorned frankness what sort of America Obama seeks to create. The Democrats deserve credit. They are willing to fight hard for the sort of America they want. What about the GOP. Are they up for the fight?

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