Saturday, November 11, 2006
Rahm Emanuel: Rahmbo?
So who deserves credit for the Democrats' stunning victory in this week's midterms? Chuck Schumer ran the national party's Senate effort with remarkable acumen and discipline, but without "Macacagate," George Allen wins in Virginia and the Republicans hold one chamber. In tallying winners and losers, some are obvious: Cheney and, obviously, Rummy, lose out to the Bush père camp of realists and diplomats. As for winners, it's harder than ever to adjudicate between the competing claims of Rahm Emanuel, chair of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, and Howard Dean, chariman of the Democratic National Committee. A highly publicized philosophical conflict between the two men has set those who want to build long-term Democratic "infrastructure" through a "50-state strategy" against those, like Rahmbo, who want to find a few good centrist Democratic candidates and drench them with money.
Clearly, no one deserves that much credit. It's the Republicans who lost this election with bad policy and bad politics. But Rahm's going to get the credit, and Howard Dean is going to become the martyr of the liberal wing of the party. In other words, behind the banter over credit and ideas a battle for power is being fought, and it sounds like Rahm and Co. are going to win. Hell, as the NYT reports today, one of Rahm's favorite candidates, Harold Ford, who ran an impressive but ultimately unsuccessful campaign for Senate in Tennessee, may replace Dean in his capacity as head of the DNC! If you study the results, however, you find that Rahm's picks weren't so stellar. He supported a number of conservative Democrats in Kentucky who failed to unseat incumbents. Much was made of Iraq War vet and double amputee Tammy Duckworth's campaign in the Chicago suburbs that border on Emanuel's district.. he personally contributed a pretty penny to her campaign, which, in the end, came up short. By contrast, a former staffer for Patrick Murphy told me last night that the Pennsylvania representative-elect and Iraq vet had often vented about Rahm's intense support of Duckworth and relative neglect of his own effort to wrest a seat away from the GOP.
Whither Rahm? While Emanuel seems to have abandoned hope of becoming Majority Whip in the face of the compelling wishes of the Black Caucus, you can be sure he won't be going away. This is a guy who, as a senior advisor to Bill Clinton, walked up to Tony Blair before his first appearance with the American President and told him: "This is important, don't *##% it up." It will be interesting to see this son of an Israeli pediatrician continue to rise in the Democratic ranks. What will be made of his ties to Israel? Emanuel served as a non-combatant in the IDF during the first Gulf War. His middle name is -- of all things -- Israel. But it is safe to say, that whatever others make of the connection, Emanuel himself, who has staked his career on a take-no-prisoners strategy that eschews ideology, won't give us bloggers much grist on this issue.