I was doing a bit of research on Rahm Emanuel because I had been hearing some tidbits about Barack Obama's choice for Chief of Staff that were intruguing. You know, like a charachter from The West Wing being based on him, things like that. I had NO IDEA just what a true badass he is--and I mean that in the nicest way possible. Read for yourself.
U.K. The Times reports:
"When Sarah Palin vowed that there would soon be a pitbull in the White House, some on the Obama campaign might have allowed themselves a knowing chuckle.
Several weeks of ferocious campaigning later, one is indeed on its way to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. He certainly doesn’t wear lipstick – but has been known to sport a leotard.
Described by those who know him as variously an attack dog, warrior, political gangster – the appointment of Rahm Emanuel as Barack Obama’s chief of staff has sent a shiver of unease through Republicans hoping for a new spirit of conciliation under the newly-elected president.
The inspiration for The West Wing’s fictional deputy chief-of-staff, Josh Lyman, the most unlikely moments in the character’s story are plucked straight out of Mr Emanuel’s reality.
When Lyman reads a Washington Post profile of him which tells how he sent a congressman a rotting fish in the post, he asks his assistant, Donna, if she was the source. In fact, it was Mr Emanuel – who reportedly once sent a pollster he had fallen out with the same gift – as a warning never to cross him again. (I LOVE it. a Godfather reference in real life??)
It is not the only episode in Mr Emanuel’s history which reads like a scene from a gangster movie.
At a dinner to celebrate Bill Clinton’s first presidential victory – Mr Emanuel was his chief fundraiser – he began to reel off the names of those who had 'crossed' him. He grabbed a steak knife and began plunging it into the table shouting “Dead! Dead! Dead!” after each name.
“When he was done the table looked like a lunar landscape,” a witness relates. “It was like something out of The Godfather. But that’s Rahm for you.” Sweet!
Mr Emmanuel became infamous for his cutting manner during the Clinton years, even towards the world’s most powerful leaders.
In 1998, when Tony Blair visited the White House at the height of the Monica Lewinsky scandal, the Prime Minister and Mr Clinton scheduled a public appearance. As he was preparing to walk out, Mr Emanuel cautioned Mr Blair : “This is important. Don’t f*** it up.” CLASSIC.
..."A veteran of the rough-and-tumble Chicago political scene, Mr Emanuel’s unrelenting toughness sits incongruously against the ambitions of his youth, when, as a talented ballet dancer, he was offered a scholarship with the world-renowned Joffrey Ballet company. He turned it down to study dance at New York’s Sarah Lawrence College and later took a masters degree in speech and communication at Northwestern University in 1985, before turning to politics.
“The guy had been a ballet dancer in Chicago, yet grown men live in mortal fear of what he might do to them,” a close friend, Bruce Reed, told Rolling Stone magazine in a recent interview. Now THAT'S a badass..."who you callin' a FRUIT???"...then BAM!
Quite what he learnt during his masters is unclear, but as Mr Emmanuel admits: "I swear a lot." As one profile succinctly put it: his favourite expletive can serve as subject, verb or adjective when he is facing down opponents. I think that means, "f*ck YOU, ya f*ckin' F*CK!"
Although Mr Emmanuel made his name during the Clinton campaign – after a stint on an Israeli army base during the Gulf War – he suffered a period of exile when Hillary Clinton tried to get him fired – like his alter ego Lyman. That he survived the First Lady’s wrath is a testament to his sticking power.
“Clinton loved Rahm because he knew that if he asked Rahm to do something, he would move Heaven and Earth – not necessarily in that order – to get it done,” a member of the Clinton administration says.
I think we're in for an awesome four (eight?) years. Obama=Cool; Emanuel=ON FIRE