I think it was 2006 when I first brought up publicly that Rahm Emanuel is a scumbag and an enemy of progressives. It was on a mailing list of a coupe of hundred progressive blogs. They didn't know. They thought Emanuel was a hero and many seemed to agree with one genius that I should be banned from the list because I was obviously a Republican interloper. The only person who stood up for me was Matt Stoller. He's smart; he knew too.
Two years later I wrote about my first face-to-face with the nasty little twerp. A partial excerpt:
At the end of the night Jane mentioned (nonchalantly), "Oh, Rahm just walked in." Earlier I had exchanged a little banter with a D-Trip employee about not bringing him along. He had promised to tie him to the tree in front of the restaurant. But Jane wasn't joking; there he was sidling up to the bar. I didn't need to look for the missing finger; I had sent Adam enough pictures of him for Photoshop in the last 3 years so that I didn't have any doubts this beady-eyed little guy was Emanuel, not some other beady-eyed little guy. Besides the DCCC people we were with started sliding inconspicuously under the table. "Oh, come on," I offered helpfully, "he won't know who we are." One of the D-Trip guys perked up. "You're right; as long as you don't mention your names."
And the next thing I knew... there I was standing in front on the bar, hand thrust out saying, "Hi, my name is Howie Klein. We were on a conference call once." I didn't mention that the call was so contentious that Chuck Schumer slammed down the phone unceremoniously after just a few minutes and that Rahm eased out of it right behind him. And that was the first and last blogger conference call either of them did. Instead I figured I'd talk strategy with him.
Now, a couple of points ran through my mind between getting up from the table and arriving at the bar. He was chatting up a nice looking young lady he found at the bar and I didn't want to get in his game. Also I've been around celebrities enough to have experienced how absolutely creepy it is for a stranger to come over and start babbling hysterically. Inside the Beltway Rahm is like... well, not Dylan or Madonna but maybe Britney or Paris. Also... I was wearing a $600 shirt and I didn't want to say anything that would provoke him into showing the world how macho he is and pulling a McCain/Renzi moment on me. The last thing in the world I wanted was to be rolling around on the floor with him the way my pal Mike Stark had at a George Macacawitz Allen rally in Virginia two years ago. Rahm is small but he looks like a dirty fighter; possibly a biter-- definitely a shirt ripper.
So I offered to help him rid the Democratic Party of bad Democrats like Al Wynn. The smile of someone used to being greeted with accolades disappeared in an instant. He was fast and he got a vaguely lethal look on his face. His jaw tightened and the beady eyes glared menacingly. "You want to take out Al Wynn!" he snarled. "No, I responded; he already got taken out. I was thinking about the Democrats who never vote with Speaker Pelosi-- or yourself-- on the important issues. I want to help you get rid of them," momentarily forgetting I had just been told that his biggest D-Trip passion this year was retaining endangered Democrats. And, wouldn't you just know that almost every one of the endangered Democrats-- from Barrow and Marshall in Georgia, Lampson in Texas to Carney and Altmire in Pennsylvania are Democrats who always vote with Bush on the contentious substantive matters. He didn't look happy; I was making a poor first impression.
Out of the corner of my eye I noticed our DCCC hosts hovering nervously in the shadows. Jane walked over and snapped a picture of Rahm and me with her cell phone. There wasn't enough light but it caught his attention and he tensed further. Then he seemed to notice the attractive woman behind the camera phone and he relaxed a little. He quickly dismissed me with another limp handshake and tried saying something to Jane who kind of looked as though a reptile she had been looking at started speaking to her. We left.
Today Blue America signed on as a sponsor of a statement to Biden initiated by RootsAction, opposing Rahm's strenuous and incessant efforts to be appointed to a top ambassadorial post. Basically we shouldn't be sending people with his glaring lack of ethics and integrity to represent the country overseas. "News reports have said that President Biden is likely to name Rahm Emanuel as the U.S. ambassador to China or Japan. Such top diplomatic posts should only go to individuals with ethics, integrity and diplomatic skills. Emanuel possesses none of those qualifications." Here's the rest of the statement:
As organizations supported by millions of voters and activists, we oppose selecting Emanuel to represent the United States as an ambassador. He has routinely served elite corporate interests and rarely the interests of the broad public or the causes of racial justice, economic equity or the peaceful resolution of conflicts at home or abroad. And whether in federal or municipal office, he has been known for his abrasive, arrogant style of wielding power.
Emanuel’s disgraceful behavior as mayor of Chicago cannot be erased or ignored. At a time when the Democratic Party leadership has joined with most Americans in asserting that black lives matter, it would be a travesty to elevate to an ambassadorship someone who has epitomized the attitude that black lives do not matter.
After being elected mayor of Chicago in 2011, Emanuel presided over a scandal-plagued administration that included the closing of 49 public schools, many in black neighborhoods. As he faced a re-election campaign, for 13 months Emanuel’s administration suppressed a horrific dashcam video showing the death of Laquan McDonald, an African-American teenager who had been shot 16 times by a Chicago police officer as he walked away from the officer. Soon after a judge ordered the city to release the video, polling found that only 17 percent of Chicagoans believed Emanuel when he said he’d never seen the video; most city residents wanted him to resign as mayor. HuffPost has reported that “he became the least popular mayor in modern Chicago history after failing to explain why he blocked the release of a video of the police killing of Laquan McDonald, a 17-year-old black resident, until after his 2015 reelection.”
When reports emerged last November that President-elect Biden was considering Emanuel for a cabinet post, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez tweeted: “Rahm Emanuel helped cover up the murder of Laquan McDonald. Covering up a murder is disqualifying for public leadership.” Then-Congressman-elect Mondaire Jones weighed in: “Rahm Emanuel covered up the murder of a black teenager, Laquan McDonald, while he was mayor of Chicago. That he's being considered for a cabinet position is completely outrageous and, honestly, very hurtful.”
Emanuel’s anti-union record includes record-setting closures of Chicago public schools while expanding charter schools and harsh intransigence during the city’s 2012 teachers’ union strike. Sara Nelson, president of the Association of Flight Attendants, has called Emanuel “a union buster.”
National NAACP President Derrick Johnson said: “As the former mayor of Chicago, Rahm Emanuel has shown us that he is not a principled leader or person. His time in public service proved to be burdened with preventable scandal and abandonment of Chicago’s most vulnerable community. How can we expect him to do better on a federal level? His actions and approach to governing are detrimental to the Biden administration and, more importantly, the American people.”
Emanuel’s record is also troubling on issues of war and diplomacy. Elected to Congress in November 2002, he endorsed the disastrous Iraq invasion and supported the war long after most Democrats in Congress and most of the public had turned against it. Our country needs ambassadors who seek reconciliation and peace rather than conflict and war.
No response from Biden yet. But I do have one from Washington state progressive candidate Jason Call: "Put quite simply, to have Rahm Emanuel be the public face of the United States in any ambassadorial position is offensive. I've said many times that he may be the worst contemporary Democratic politician, though Andrew Cuomo is charging hard at that title right now. Rahm has proven himself to be callous on public policy, vindictive in operation, openly disdainful of progressives, and quite frankly I'm wondering if he's being considered for an honored post in the State Department because he knows 'where the bodies are buried.' I can't think of any reason that him serving the Biden administration would be beneficial, either in practice or in optics. He's outstayed his welcome and it's time for him to go." Amen.
UPDATE: Another First Person Account-- John Laesch:
"I was working at Braidwood Nuclear Station in May of 2019 when LaQuan McDonald’s murder, Jason Van Dyke, was found guilty. I was sitting with a couple of black carpenters out in the smoke pit at the end of the day when the news popped into my cell phone. High fives, big grins and whoops of joy filled the tiny pit. I can’t remember when. Voters never got to hold Rahm Emanuel accountable for covering up the cold blooded murder by a Chicago police officer. Emanuel, a lifelong coward didn’t run for office again, and his political career needs to end. Any appointment to any office is a slap in the face to black people everywhere."