Was Rahm Emanuel the reason the Democrats took back the House in the 2006 election? A Chicago reporter makes the case.
Edward McClelland | Salon.com | May. 08, 2007
Election Night 2002 was a gloomy watch for Democrats. Their party, led by a pair of innocuous Midwestern Main Streeters, Richard Gephardt and Thomas Daschle, lost control of the Senate and lost seats in the House, sinking to its lowest ebb since the Roaring ’20s. Smug right-wing pundits predicted the Democrats were on their way to joining the Whigs in the ashcan of American political parties.
It was a different story in Illinois. The Democrats won everything. They took the governorship for the first time in 30 years. They captured the state Senate. This despite running a ticket made up of ward bosses’ children and in-laws. I remember sitting on my couch in Chicago and thinking, “If the Democrats want to turn it around, they need to take some lessons from the machine around here. Chicago Democrats have no scruples. They treat political offices as feudal inheritances. They shake down contributors like a corrupt pope selling indulgences. They’re sleazy, they’re arrogant … and they WIN.”
That night, on the northwest side, Rahm Emanuel was elected to Congress. A former Clinton whiz kid who’d gotten his start as a fundraiser for Mayor Richard M. Daley, Emanuel was connected — in the three years after leaving the White House (where he’d helped push through NAFTA), he earned $16 million putting together Wall Street mergers. He was also zealously partisan. He had once owned a consulting business devoted to finding skeletons in Republican closets. At a Clinton victory dinner in Little Rock in 1992, Emanuel celebrated by reciting a hoped-for necrology of Democrats who had “fucked” the president-elect. After every name, he stabbed a steak knife into a table and screamed, “Dead man!” Continue reading ‘The legend of Rahm’