Monday, November 10, 2008

Is the Honeymoon Over? Sniping at Obama from the Left (and Right)

While most people heard news reports that the Republicans were upset at the appointment of war hawk Rahm Emanuel as chief of staff, the main gatekeeper to Obama, that's nothing to compare with what is beginning to come from the left. If Obama built his base on being against the war in Iraq how does he make a war hawk the most powerful man in the government?

Progressives are in for some big disappointments. People tell us that after 8 years of Bush, we at least can look forward to somewhat better judges and other appointees and hopefully a better managed government.
But the higher the expectations, the bigger the fall. Making Rahm Emanuel the first appointment is not a good omen. (However, I'll soon be posting a positive view from a parent activist in Chicago of the Obama's roles in school reform.)

Stephen Zunes writes at Alternet: Is Obama Screwing His Base with Rahm Emanuel Selection?

I had really wanted to celebrate Barack Obama's remarkable victory for a day or so before becoming cynical again. I really did.

And yet, less than 24 hours after the first polls closed, the president-elect chose as his chief of staff -- perhaps the most powerful single position in any administration -- Rahm Emanuel, one of the most conservative Democratic members of Congress.


George Schmidt, an Emanuel constituent, passed this on:

To simplify Rahm Emmanuel as a war mongering right wing monster is to do him too much credit. I live in the guy's Congressional District (Illinois 5th). I have heard him brag that he got earmarks to expand Chicago's military high schools (Marine Military Academy dedication in Chicago last October, reported in the November 2007 Substance, available on line at We have heard him try to justify his support of the Goldman Sachs "bailout" plan when every Chicago Congressman opposed it (first iteration).

And we watched him stand beside George W. Bush and Mayor Richard M. Daley of Chicago on January 7, 2007, as Bush delivered his "anniversary" speech on No Child Left Behind behind a wall of mounted police and snipers in Chicago (Greeley elementary school). Again, as we reported in Substance (January and February 2008, and on line).

What was unique about Emmanuel's contribution to the Bush agenda that day was that Rahm Emmanuel is one of several Chicago Congressmen, and that all of the black ones (Danny Davis, Bobby Rush, Jesse Jackson Junior) and the Puerto Rican one (Luis Gutierrez) were snubbed by Bush and Daley that day so that Rahm could share the stage and limelight of No Child Left Behind with the two men (Daley; Bush) who most pushed the Business Roundtable corporate "school reform" agenda on the USA.

As people have noted, when Rahm Eammnuel left the Clinton administration, he spent a couple of years as an "investment banker" and supposedly "earned" about $16 million. Needless to say, Rahm Emmanuel has never had much in common with this diverse but mostly "middle class" Congressional District he was in. He bought the Congressional Seat by spending ten times more than his opponent (Nancy Kazak) in his first run, and ignored his constituents ever since. On the
Iraq War; on education; on the Goldman - Sachs "bailout", to cite a few examples. For all his resources, our congressman has never been able to generate a majority of his own constitutents to be in favor of the policies he's supported. So he simply ignores us. (Including a phone call and e-mail I sent him after the first "bailout" vote).

George N. Schmidt
Editor, Substance

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