Rahm Emanuel’s War
Well, they’re both men stuck in a prior decade: Disco Stu in the 70’s and Rahm Emanuel in the screw the base 90’s.
They are different, though. Disco’s Stu’s fixations merely abet fashion crimes. Rahm Emanuel? Well, you be the judge.
Yesterday Truthout ran an examination of how Emanuel, who remains in a position to do candidate recruitment for the DCCC this cycle, used his similar position last time around to sabotage the campaigns of grassroots progressives who favored leaving Iraq, all so he could recruit candidates who, when they’ve won, have gone on to provide Bush and the Republicans everything they want on Iraq and more.
According to his critics, Emanuel played kingmaker by financially supporting his favored candidates during primary contests with other Democrats. His critics say that this interference was in direct contradiction of a DCCC policy to “remain neutral” in party primaries.
In but one of its researched examples, the Truthout article dicusses Emanuel’s effort to sabotage Christine Cegelis in favor of his hand picked, out of district resident and favorite, Tammy Duckworth:
According to Spidel, Emanuel worked against Cegelis because of her support for withdrawal from Iraq and her outspoken opposition to “free trade” legislation like the Central American Free Trade Agreement. “In 2006 the DCCC was Emanuel’s personal weapon. He executed based on his needs. He needed votes on ‘free trade’ legislation that he supports, and he knew that [Cegelis] was one of the Democrats who would vote her own way,” Spidel said.
Spidel said that Emanuel worked to defeat Cegelis because she represented a threat to the established Illinois Democrats and because she did not seek their approval before running. “Chicago politics is a family. If you didn’t go into the city and kiss certain rings, you were not given certain resources like Political Action Committee lists and donor lists. Cegelis’ success hurt some egos and the party didn’t like their lack of control,” Spidel said.
There are more examples, though none of this should be news to longtime FDL readers and supporters of Blue America. Blue America exists, in no small part, to make up for the top-down, anti-democratic (and anti-Democratic), ideologically conservative machinations of some powerfully placed Democratic Party “leaders.” As Howie Klein says (via email):
As for Rahm’s recruits strengthening what some call “centrist” positions– and what I call reactionary positions– just look at how they vote.
The freshmen voting most frequently abandoning the Democrats in order to vote with the Republicans are Heath Shuler (personally recruited by Rahm), Jason Altmire (not a Rahm candidate), Joe Donnelly (a Rahm candidate), Brad Ellsworth (a Rahm candidate), Baron Hill (relentlessly pursued by Rahm to run), and Nick Lampson (I hope some Texans will make public how Rahm made this happen; I’m bound to silence).
These are the guys who keep voting with the GOP on issue after issue after issue, and who constantly weaken Pelosi’s chance to forge a working progressive majority. Rahm’s big mistake in 2005-06 was his pigheaded belief that real anti-war candidates couldn’t win and that grassroots candidates are worthless.
Renner’s work was well researched and didn’t go into other races that paint an even worse picture of Rahm’s role. Many of the ones he didn’t address involved the eventual progressive winners who were opposed by Rahm but won anyway, and who want to get along with Rahm now– such as John Hall who Rahm opposed in the primary in favor of an establishment “centrist.” Hall beat her and then went on to win the seat against a Republican incumbent in a red district and votes as though he represents a blue district.
There were other close races. . . that were even closer and did not get any support, or, in some cases, VERY LATE and therefore nearly useless support– from the DCCC. Some of these close races included:
OH-02: Victoria Wulsin: Emanuel-supported race in OH-01 for Cranley, who is a middle of the road, safe candidate who doesn’t rock any boats. Even with Emanuel’s support it turned out to be a 53/47% defeat. Right next door we had a real fiery grassroots, anti-war candidate who very much does rock boats. Emanuel ignored her and she came much closer to victory in a 51-49% defeat.
NY-25: Dan Maffei: 51-49%; ignored by Emanuel until the very end, too late to matter; I’m certain Van Hollen won’t make the same mistake.
CO-04: Angie Paccione: 46-43%; ignored by Emanuel.
NC-08: Larry Kissell: Lost by 459 votes; ignored by Emanuel until the last minute/too late; everything went to Shuler, who votes a lot like a Republican.
MI-09: Nancy Skinner: 52/46%; ignored by Emanuel.
WY (at large): Gray Trauner: This race was so close– it was a 50/50 defeat with Cubin winning by 970 votes– that a friend at the DNC who couldn’t get any assistance from Emanuel asked a mutual friend of ours if Blue America had any plans to jump into the race… please, please, please.
The actual list of Emanuel’s actions to sabotage grassroots Democrats whose positions actually track those of their local constituents, on Iraq and other issues, is longer still than this, but you get the idea. Those Bush Dogs who have been handing Bush a conservative governing majority in spite of the popular will of their local constituents? Those are Rahm Emanuel’s people, his posse.
Can someone tell me why we call this guy a Democrat at all, let alone give him and his stooge Steny Hoyer leadership positions from which to stab the party and Speaker Pelosi in the back?
For a little more on ways Emanuel undercuts Democrats on trade, the Iraq occupation, the Bill of Rights, the rights of migrant workers, war with Iran, etc., check out the links in this post from last week.
Disco Stu may be harmless and funny, but Rahm Emanuel most decidedly is not. It’s up to the base of the party to call him and his Bush appeasing conservative allies out, run primaries against them as necessary, and force them to rejoin the party or be surpassed by people powered politics. As Tom Schaller points out, our pathway to a national majority that way lies.