Monday, September 13, 2010

DeLay May Be A Worse Stain, & Perhaps Boehner Is Too, But Rahm Is One Of The Worst Things That's Happened To American Politics In Our Lifetimes


DWT started back in 2005 to look into serial criminals Duke Cunningham, Bob Ney, Jerry Lewis and Tom DeLay. Cunningham, DeLay and Ney were all forced to resign from Congress and two of them went to prison; DeLay's case is still pending. Lewis, wilier than the others by far, escaped prosecution by conniving to make sure two consecutive U.S. Attorneys who had the goods on him lost their jobs. But while we were looking into these 4 Republican crooks, we found another one, on the other side of the aisle, no less corrupt, no less reprehensible. We discovered Rahm Emanuel, the man who was to go on, as Chief of Staff, to shatter whatever hopes and dreams anyone might have harbored about Obama's potential for a truly transformative presidency. From the time he first came to the public's attention as the man you shoved NAFTA down America's throats for his corporate masters-- something Bush had been unable to accomplish-- through his efforts to lard up the Democratic House caucus with reactionaries and sabotage of all attempts at comprehensive immigration reform and all attempts at effective Wall Street reform, Rahm Emanuel has been a deadly, and apparently inoperable, cancer on the Democratic Party. I stood inches from him and looked into his cold dead eyes and knew for sure I was staring at an embodiment of Satan.

Last week, as Emanuel started preparing to decamp from the White House and take over the city of Chicago, two important features on him were published online. Progress Illinois has a lengthy post by Adam Doster and Micah Maidenberg, The Case Against Rahm, which nails it pretty well-- and in great detail, starting from Emanuel's earliest days as a sleazy operative in the Daley Machine, later parlaying his ability to suck money out of rich people into a job in the Clinton White House.
During his White House tenure, Emanuel was instrumental in the passage of legislation that required centrist votes. That included the North American Free Trade Agreement, a trade deal that displaced thousands of manufacturing jobs and was fought heavily by organized labor. "We were a very determined administration," Emanuel told Frontline. "We made a lot of compromises to get NAFTA passed and a lot of deals to get NAFTA passed. Did we cave in or not? We got it done."

Emanuel also had a hand in the 1996 welfare reform fight, which was politically beneficial for the party but which stripped away aid to poor people who were unable to find adequate employment, a decision whose repercussions were felt only when the national economy bottomed out.

By 1999, Emanuel left Washington to follow "a well-trodden gilded path out of politics and into the lucrative world of business," according to a 2008 story in the New York Times. Rahm's choice was investment banking. "Putting together deals--- arranging mergers and acquisitions, which is essentially what an investment banker does-- is not unlike overseeing the passage of legislation," Emanuel told the Chicago Reader in 2002.

...In 2000, another opportunity came Emanuel's way. Outgoing President Bill Clinton appointed Emanuel to the mortgage giant Freddie Mac's Board of Directors. The 14 months he served on Freddie's board proved a cozy sinecure for Emanuel. He wasn't listed as a member of any board committees, but was rather described as teaching board members how to "play the levers of power," according to a Tribune investigation. Emanuel and other new directors were immediately granted stock and options plus a $20,000 annual fee upon joining the group; he earned at least $320,000 from the company, a number that doesn't include an additional sale of Freddie stock, the Tribune found. Not bad for a board that met no more than six times annually.

And during those meetings? The Tribune describes Freddie's board during Emanuel's tenure as more than willing to ratify questionable practices by the company's top managers. Emanuel himself was never accused of any specific wrongdoing but an investigation into Freddie's board by Armando Falcon, the director of the Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight, is summarized thusly:
Falcon concluded that the board of directors on which Emanuel sat was so pliant that Freddie Mac's managers easily were able to massage company ledgers. They manipulated bookkeeping to smooth out volatility, perpetuating Freddie Mac's industry reputation as "Steady Freddie," a reliable producer of earnings growth. Wall Street liked what it saw, Freddie Mac's stock value soared and top executives collected their bonuses.

Fixing Freddie Mac, along with mortgage backer and holder Fannie Mae, is expected to cost taxpayers no less than $160 billion and possibly up to $1 trillion when all is said and done, Bloomberg News reported this summer.

During Emanuel's time on Freddie's board, the company sought to bolster its political clout in Washington and ward off regulation. The increased focus on politics ultimately led the Federal Election Commission to levy a $3.8 million fine against Freddie "for illegally using corporate resources to host fundraisers for politicians." 

Emanuel, in turn, "was the beneficiary of one of those parties after he left the board and ran in 2002 for a seat in Congress from the North Side of Chicago." But most of them, the Tribune piece points out, benefited Republican candidates.

Emanuel then ran for the Chicago congressional seat of Rod Blogojevich gave up when he decided to run for governor, a seat that was, in effect a "rotten borough" and slated to cease to exist. Emanuel's success in the Democratic primary has been widely credited to the efforts of the organized crime connections of the Daley Machine. He immediately skipped over scores of senior Members to assume a major leadership role inside the caucus, something that has never been adequately justified or even explained.
Emanuel jumped so quickly into his party's leadership circle in part because of his fundraising prowess, which was directly connected to the relationships he developed with the financial services community before he was elected. During the 2008 election cycle, Emanuel was the top House recipient of contributions from hedge funds, private equity firms, and the larger securities/investment industry. Those groups stuffed his warchest during his six years in office with $1.5 million in funds, money he didn't need for a re-election bid in his safe Democratic district.

As President Barack Obama's chief of staff, Emanuel hasn't been shy about expressing his distate for progressives in and outside of the Democratic Party, in his usual florid style.

During discussions about the auto industry bailout, Emanuel reportedly responded to news that doing nothing to boost the sagging domestic auto manufacturers would put "hundreds of thousands of people out of work" by saying, "F--- the UAW." Earlier this year, he called liberal activists "fucking retarded." Pointedly, he apologized to the head of the Special Olympics for the outburst, but not to liberals.

Policy-wise, progressives have questioned why Emanuel let centrist Democratic Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT) negotiate the health care reform bill for months with recalcitrant Republican Senators. Emanuel downplayed the importance of a public option in the legislation, too. Progressives have criticized the way Emanuel handled the stimulus bill for the Obama Administration. Immigration advocates are frustrated with Emanuel's stance on the issue; he advised Obama successfully to wait until this fall's election is over before taking on a reform package. With Republicans poised to take at least one chamber in Congress, the caution may not mean further stasis on the issue.

Cenk Uygar penned a heartfelt rant, Why Ram Was 100% Wrong, in what amounts to an essential companion piece to Doster's and Maidenberg's scholarly investigation.
The Rahm Emanuel strategy was to cut deals with power brokers in Washington and ignore what liberals wanted. This was best illustrated when he called liberals "fucking retarded" for trying to push for real change. His attitude was that you could ignore progressive demands because-- where could they go?!

Well, it turns out that the answer to that question is-- home. Now there are several polls out showing a 5 to 10% difference between registered Democratic voters and likely Democratic voters. Democrats are basically tied with the Republicans on registered voters. But they get clobbered on likely voters. Why? Because voters who are disillusioned aren't likely to vote.

Why are they disillusioned Rahm might ask when we gave them health care reform and financial reform? The answer is because they're not nearly as dumb as you think they are. You think you can just call something reform and people are going to buy it? That's not going to fly, especially in the new media age.

We all know that Obama struck the same exact deals with the big drug companies that Bush did. Obama had campaigned against those specific agreements, but once he got into office he was convinced that we couldn't upset those deals and that we just had to shoot for a tiny bit of change. That we couldn't change the way Washington ran, we could just play the old Washington game a little better. That is the essence of Rahm Emanuel.

And those games have now left the Democrats with a gigantic deficit in voter enthusiasm. Rahm was supposed to be some sort of political genius. But it has turned out to be the exact opposite. He blew it. He had no idea what he was talking about and it looks like his party is about to lose a massive amount of seats. Why? Because Rahm was wrong, completely and utterly wrong.



At 10:27 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Rahm is far worse because DeLay and Boehner represent the Klan and corporate interests. They don't subvert the primary vehicle for positive change into an organization which primarily feeds the Klan and serves corporate interests.

Not only is Rahm a prick, but he consistently seeks the nexus between bad policy and bad politics discrediting the arguments government works and that the Democratic Party gives a shit.

At 10:34 AM, Anonymous Balakirev said...

The federal government's loss will be Chicago's, well, loss.

At 11:11 AM, Anonymous me said...

Rahm Is One Of The Worst Things That's Happened To American Politics In Our Lifetimes

And what do you have to say about the asshole that put that asshole in power?

At 11:26 AM, Anonymous rootless_e said...

Rahm is evil. Consider that he recruited the terrible Joe Sestak while true progressives helped recruit the great Eric Massa.

OMG! And he had the gall to question the spending of $10M on a primary for a position that the GOP was going to win anyway when that money could have won 5 progressive house seats or beat Grassley or ...

And he uses four letter words too! Someone get me some smelling salts.

At 12:18 PM, Anonymous rootless_e said...

Oh and I forgot about how lucky we are to have defeated Rahm's centrist candidate to run against Pombo and put in Jerry Mcnerney who is PERFECT
And if we progressives had not helped out Chris Carney, we might have a BLUE DOG in that position put in by Rahm.

See it's easy to get great people elected.

Yeah. And please don't forget how shocked and upset those union guys must have been to hear crude language. By golly, they must have blushed furiously and felt physically ill.

At 4:30 PM, Blogger Bula said...

A pox upon his house! May he reap what he has sown!

We need to get medieval on his ass......

Know any Witches???

At 7:39 AM, Anonymous rootless_e said...

Sorry to keep coming back, but the brilliance of this argument yields more and more richness on inspection.

"And those games have now left the Democrats with a gigantic deficit in voter enthusiasm."

That's so correct. A series of narrow defeats where the Conservadem/Republican majority in Congress prevailed would have totally fired up the voters. Losing is motivational. I can remember November 2004 as a proud moment in American progressivism. If we want to win, we have to cooperate with Republican strategy. Napoleon was the moral winner at Waterloo, after all.

At 9:54 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

rootless, that's fuckin' retarded. (btw i too want to apologize to retards for that comparison)the centrists got blown up this election, that's where the big loss of house seats came from. settling for demoralizing incrementalism in the face of huge adversity is not a winning strategy.


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