Friday, November 7, 2008

Obama chooses 'Rahmbo' as chief of staff

Former Clinton adviser renowned as a political bruiser is given key post

By Leonard Doyle in Washington
The Independent

".....The choice of Mr Emanuel, a US Congressman, was one of Mr Obama's first decisions after becoming President-elect on Tuesday. Known as "Rahmbo" to insiders, he has a reputation as one of Washington's most ferocious political operators.....

The common thread between Mr Emanuel and Mr Obama is the President-elect's chief strategist David Axelrod, éminence grise of Chicago political consultants, who was reported to have accepted the post of senior adviser last night. Both men are Jewish – Mr Emanuel had Axelrod sign the ketubah (the Jewish marriage covenant) at his wedding – and both worked for Chicago's Mayor Daley. In his first run for congress, Mr Emanuel was criticised as being a wealthy outsider and Mr Axelrod created an ad with a Chicago policeman endorsing him – revealed at the end of the commercial to be Emanuel's uncle....

His intensity is said by friends and enemies alike to be key to his success. Stories about him are legendary, including one about a rotting fish he sent to a pollster who had angered him.

But it is true that on the night after Mr Clinton was elected, Mr Emanuel exploded in anger at the president's enemies and at a celebratory dinner he grabbed a knife as he shouted out their names: "Dead! . . . Dead! . . . Dead!," he said, plunging the knife into the table.....

Back in Israel, Mr Emanuel's paediatrician father, Dr Benjamin Emanuel, was somewhat off message with Mr Obama's campaign promise of hope and change. In an interview with the newspaper Ma'ariv, he said he was convinced that his son's appointment would be good for Israel. "Why wouldn't he be? What is he, an Arab? He's not going to clean the floors.".....

Between his stints in Washington, Mr Emanuel made a fortune as an investment banker and once sat on the board of Freddie Mac....."

"Emanuel's father: An Israeli terrorist?

The appointment of Rahm Emanuel triggered widespread interest in Israel, the native country of his former Jewish underground fighter father.

The older Emanuel, a paediatrician born in Jerusalem, was a member of Irgun, the hard-line militant group which fought for Jewish independence until 1948. It was described as "terrorist" at the time by Britain. Mr Emanuel's appointment could reassure Israel that Mr Obama will continue America's close alliance. The Ynet news service quoted Michael Kotzin, a leader of the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago, as saying Mr Emanuel is a frequent attender at Israel-related events.

He co-sponsored a Bill defending Israel against a world court advisory opinion in 2004 criticising the route of the military's separation barrier for cutting deep into the West Bank, and co-sponsored another Bill congratulating Israelis and Palestinians who work together for peace. He is credited with choreographing the famous handshake between Yasser Arafat and Yitzhak Rabin on the White House lawn in 1993." -- Donald Macintyre

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