Friday, November 07, 2008

He pulls a knife, you pull a gun.

Here's a passage from a New Yorker profile of president-elect Obama's new chief of staff, Rahm 'Rahmbo' Emanuel, referring to events in 1992 (via):

It was there that Emanuel, then Clinton's chief fund-raiser, repaired with George Stephanopoulos, Mandy Grunwald and other aides to Doe's, the campaign hangout. Revenge was heavy in the air as the group discussed the enemies - Democrats, Republicans, members of the press - who wronged them during the 1992 campaign.


Suddenly Emanuel grabbed his steak knife and, as those who were there remeber it, shouted out the name of another enemy, lifted the knife, then brought it down with full force into the table.

''Dead!'' he screamed.

The group immediately joined in the cathartic release: ''Nat Landow! Dead! Cliff Jackson! Dead! Bill Schaefer! Dead!''

I like it, not only since Emanuel's selection means that the White House might see fewer prayer meetings and more profanity, but also since it signals that this administration might actually be serious about getting things done.

Emanuel grew up in Wilmette, a suburb of Chicago, and he now represents the 5th Illinois Congressional District, which includes much of Chicago's north side. (And which is almost-but-not-quite adjacent to the 13th district, where your humble narrator spent his formative years and -- somewhat before that -- where Donald Rumsfeld's illustrious political career was launched.)

There are worse things than having someone with Emanuel's background and temperament on your side when you want to accomplish something:

A knack for toughness seems to run in the family:

The Boys [Rahm and his brother Ari] went to summer camp in Israel, and reveled in the family lore: in 1933, after their uncle Emanuel Auerbach was killed in a skirmish with Arabs in Jerusalem, the family changed its last name to his first, as a tribute. Political passions always ran deep. [Rahm] still remembers the time his mother and her father got into such a furious argument at the dinner table over Henry Wallace and the 1948 split of the Democratic Party - a quarter century after the fact - that father threw daughter out of the house. ''And it was her house,'' Rahm says. ''I thought, 'This is nutty.' ''

See also comments at Jewcy.


Dale said...

I have a soft spot for The Untouchables. Maybe I shouldn't, but there it is.

Rahm I. seems like a good choice for that role -- a no-nonsense guy, a fighter, a streak of the Machiavellian.

Francis Sedgemore said...

There was I thinking that the Obama administration would be all West Wing, with quick-witted intellectual banter between beautiful young people with a social conscience. Are we instead to have sunken-eyed psychopaths destroying the White House furniture?

The Feeder said...

Mhm, I like the picture of gun and knife. Yet we should not forget how the character played by Sean Connery meets his fate - it's shotgun versus superior automatic firepower in the end...


J. Carter Wood said...

Dale: I agree, and not just for the trashy, ridiculous, over-the-top (but still somehow exhilarating) shootout scene in Union Station. I used to play on that stairway as a kid when my mother and I would go 'into the city' and we were waiting for our train back home.

Obviously, that had nothing to do with Prohibition, but it's funny how personal attachments to spaces are so relevant when they show up in films.

Francis: Why does it have to be either or? Surely, there must be room for a few beautiful, quick-witted psychopaths?

While we're on the topic: Am I the only person in the western world who has never seen a single episode of The West Wing?

Dale said...

Francis, do you see RI's failure on the counts of quick-witted, beautiful, and socially conscious -- all three? Surely you can detect, at least, a certain rugged, boxer-like handsomeness in his looks. ;-)

JCW, I'm afraid it's that bad. There was a time when West Wing was both obligatory and inescapable. You must have been in cryogenic stasis during this period. It happens.

In my own case, believe it or not, I have, to this day, never seen Top Gun. I have seen brief scenes from it, and believe me when I say I get the idea, but I've never watched all or even most of it.

J. Carter Wood said...


it's shotgun versus superior automatic firepower in the end...

Yes, that's always the way, isn't it?

I like to think, though, that if you're doing it right, you only need one bullet.

But then I'm a purist.

Quality, not quantity, people.

Good night.

Francis Sedgemore said...

"Surely you can detect, at least, a certain rugged, boxer-like handsomeness in his looks."

Emmanuel is prettier than me, but that's not saying much. Otherwise, he looks like Death warmed up.