Monday, October 2, 2006

Personal Aside: Rahm Emanuel—Not Hard Ball, Bean-Ball.

rahm emanuel


No one should be surprised that suddenly the Tammy Duckworth campaign has seized the phrase “cut and run”--the generic usage by Peter Roskam and most other Republican Congressional candidates applied to general Democratic Iraq strategy which advocates pulling out as soon as practicable. It took a real political bean-ball expert to deduce that Dems could use the phrase as an insult to Duckworth who has no legs. Emanuel is that bean-ball player, one who were he in the boxing ring would have conjured how to rub resin in his opponent’s eyes without being detected by the referee. As one who introduced him to Bruce DuMont and urged Bruce to let Rahm join us on public radio, I enjoyed him enough in his salad days…and dined with him on occasion as he set his sights on short-term goals, raising money for Richard M. Daley largely from the Jewish community.

He was a charming young slicker who pretended to be nothing less than a political Sammy Glick. After the show we would have lots of fun. We joyfully blew the lid on political correct language—he zinging my Catholicism as mumbo-jumbo wafer worship and I insisting he was as obtuse as his ancestors who nailed up the Messiah. The imprecations were enough to offend everyone. Gloriously politically incorrect. Nobody offended because there was no audience to exploit. That’s when I liked Emanuel. I hugely respected his volunteering to help Israel as a stretcher bearer during Gulf War I when he didn’t have to do it. There was courage there. I invited him, one of very few friends, to my Quaker Oats retirement party.

But later when he went to the White House with Clinton, he took up the art of bean-balling, aiming a pitch not to strike out a batter but to publicly wound him. It was one thing for him to do TV stand-ups in defense of his president’s off-Oval Office fellatio stints (that was more than I could or can stomach but evidently not for Emanuel)…but it is quite another to issue threats of blackmail through porno publisher Larry Flint: circuitously telling House members in the impeachment process who had past extra-marital liaisons that they better desist or their lives would be ruined. No doubt who Flint’s source was as the House prosecution staff discovered. In the Senate, Trent Lott and Stevens of Alaska were told that “we have something on you and you’ll pay with your reputation if you vote to convict.” They quickly backed off and quashed the indictment.

With Henry Hyde, the Judiciary chairman who brought the impeachment bill to the House, it was devastating. Hyde was warned that an episode of his past life would be released—an episode having nothing to do with lying under oath—and that his kids and grandchildren would be affected. Not unlike the Mafia. But to Hyde’s eternal credit and the credit of the system, Hyde went through with it and took the punishment—punishment which was gravely serious for a man of Hyde’s religious tradition…being disgraced in front of your kids. That bears the unique Emanuel trademark of bean-ball.

Perhaps the first bean-ball for Emanuel, came in the midst of the primary of his Congressional campaign. His opponent was a Polish woman state Rep, far too liberal for me but who really deserved the nomination for the work she did in her community; he, the carpetbagger, armed with millions he got through plying his hustler trade in investment banking about which he knew nothing except his Chinaman political connection with Wall Street’s Bruce Wasserstein, a hefty contributor. Emanuel plunked himself in that working class district anyhow as he “seen his opportunities and took `em” in the words of the 19th century Boss Plunkett. The late Steve Neal of the “Sun-Times”, repelled by Emanuel’s crassness, zinged him often. Things didn’t look good for him at the outset. There was great sentiment for another Pole—this time a bright legislative lawyer—in the district and a number of Polish-American groups supported her.

Then there came a break. An elderly gent who headed the Polish National Alliance, who was on his opponent’s advisor staff…in the last stage of senility before he died (he went to my church, St. John Cantius)…was quoted in the press as saying Emanuel carried dual citizenship—one for the U.S. and one for Israel. It was an error, common enough by supporters who get carried away. Minor blip but correctible. The old man hadn’t blasted the Jews, hadn’t made any foul linkage but the very mention was enough.

Emanuel parlayed it to win the nomination—screaming that he was fouled by anti-Semitism, adopting a non-typical hang-dog martyr look of deep hurt but privately hitting high-fives with his buddies at the break-through. His opponent issued a flurry of apologies: condemned the statement, regretted its utterance and almost stood on her head to atone. Not enough for the publicly lachrymose Emanuel who triumphantly loved it as a good “bean-ball.” She shouldn’t even have tried to explain—as hopeless as the Pope trying to explain to the Muslims for his citing an historical remark. The Muslims don’t want to be assuaged nor did Emanuel because he could play it. A supposed victim of “anti-Semitism” in a Democratic primary where powerful minorities are and the major guilt-ridden media thrills to the chase like the running with the bulls in Pamplona. Emanuel rode martyrdom all the way to the Democratic nomination which in the 5th is tantamount to election. It was bean-ball pure and simple.

The crass statement from Duckworth’s campaign manager on “cut and run” being a cruel insult to a woman who lost her legs in combat is vintage bean-ball, vintage Emanuel, mouthed through the lips of Duckworth’s campaign manager. I don’t think Emanuel will get away with it because the 6th in general election is not like the 5th ‘s Democratic primary constituency composed of super-sensitive sacred bulls running to the trumpet of so-called “prejudice”—in this case anti-disabled veteran “prejudice.” . The non-story scored in a major way only in Chicago’s Democratic newspaper of record when Scott Fornek wrote it despite the fact that Roskam hadn’t used the term with reference to her.

The payback punishment upon Hyde in his old age ranks with Bill Moyers ordering Martin Luther King’s hotel rooms bugged and release of the personal stuff as grueling bean-ball. Knowing where the bean-ball came from, I decided not to ever shake Emanuel’s hand again, a pledge I kept when he spoke at the City Club to butter up a Mayor to whom, as Fran Spielman has aptly written, he owes his soul. Enough of bean-ball. Now to taste.

Nina Easton, “Fortune” Washington editor, has this young Faustus dead to rights in the latest issue. The thing that gets me in reading it is the insolence. According to Easton, a liberal journalist, Emanuel dines out on the story when he saw President Bush outside the Caterpillar tractor plant in Montgomery, Illinois on a hot day in August, 2005. The President took note of Emanuel’s deep tan. It prompted Emanuel to boast of his triathlon training schedule. Bush invited Emanuel down to Crawford to do some biking—a civil offer, decent, nice gesture. But civility is weakness to your ordinary political assassin. Emanuel shot back: “I’ll make you a deal, Mr. President. I’ll bike if you swim. Laura can put your water wings next to the lake. You can have your water wings.” He adds with an uppercut: “You’re not one of those trib-athletes, are you, Mr. President? You know—steam, sauna, shower?” Bush had no reply. Haahahahahaha, gotcha-gotcha.

It’s like me insulting Presidents Clinton, Carter, Johnson, Kennedy, Truman or Roosevelt to their faces. Please God, keep me around long enough to see Emanuel get his.

1 comment:

  1. I mean that sincerely; he deserves it!