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Now that the Democrats have won the House overwhelmingly, the media is falling all over itself to proclaim Rahm Emanuel, head of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, and dearest friend of Israel, a boy genius. Even that congenital liar and close friend of Ariel Sharon, the ever tendentious NYT neocon William Safire, came out of retirement to hail Rahm as the Karl Rove of the Dems and to spin the election in various ways designed to keep Emanuel’s influence alive.
But is Rahm a boy genius or did the Dem establishments succeed despite him and in fact despite itself? After all, the Dem establishment, partisans of oil, empire and Israel, chose Rahm to lead them. Let’s do the numbers to see how Rahm and his employers really did.
On these electronic pages during the electoral season we have tracked the machinations and motives of Rahm Emanuel (1,2). Long ago Rahm chose 22 key races, open or Republican seats, where Dems might win. By any reasonable criteria, all the candidates chosen by Rahm, save perhaps for one, were pro-war as is Emanuel himself. In two cases Rahm had to put in considerable dollars and effort in the primaries to drive out antiwar candidates. He drove out Cegelis in Illinois’s 6th CD, at the cost of one million dollars, in favor of Tammy ("Stay the course") Duckworth who lost in the general election. In California’s 11th CD primary, Emanuel backed the prowar Steven Filson who lost to the antiwar candidate, Jerry McNerney, who went on to win in the general election.
Looking at all 22 candidates hand-picked by Rahm, we find that 13 were defeated, and only 8 won! (3) (One is still undecided.) And remember that this was the year of the Democratic tsunami and that Rahm’s favorites were handsomely financed by the DCCC. Tammy Duckworth, for example, was infused with $3 million and was backed in the primary by HRC, Barack Obama, John Kerry, etc. The Dems have picked up 28 seats so far, maybe more. So out of that 28, Rahm’s choices accounted for 8! Since the Dems only needed 15 seats to win the House, Rahm’s efforts were completely unnecessary. Had the campaign rested on Rahm’s choices, there would have been only 8 or 9 new seats, and the Dems would have lost. In fact, Rahm’s efforts were probably counterproductive for the Dems since the great majority of voters were antiwar and they were voting primarily on the issue of the war (60% according to CNN). But Rahm’s candidates were not antiwar.
So Rahm Emanuel nearly seized defeat from the jaws of victory. The Dems fully intended to pursue the war and the neocons thought that they had found a new host in the Dem party but the voters now perceive the Dems as antiwar and if they do not deliver, they will be damaged. After all Ralph Nader and Chuck Hagel are waiting in the wings for 2008Either Emanuel is completely incompetent or else Emanuel is putting the interests of Israel ahead of Democratic victories. You decide. In either case why would he remain in a position of influence in the Dem party? A good question.
A footnote to all this is the skullduggery behind the scenes in the campaign of one of Rahm’s losers, Diane Farrell, who lost to Christopher Shays in CT. Farrell successfully passed herself off as antiwar in some quarters, getting the last minute endorsement of Katrina Vanden Heuvel at The Nation. But here is Farrell’s "plan" for Iraq according to her web site: "Have Congress step up to its proper oversight role and get the administration to articulate and implement a transition plan in which the U.S. will reduce its role and begin to bring troops home. Set achievement benchmarks, rather than dates, for implementing such a pullback." Farrell does not support the Murtha or McGovern bills; she even rejects "timetables," and puts the onus of getting out of Iraq on "the administration" as opposed to Congressional action, namely her had she won. Why would The Nation support such a candidate? Was it simply incompetence, not doing one’s homework?
At the same time backers of Farrell, calling themselves Greens, managed to get the hard working and principled Green candidate in her district to withdraw on the basis of "private" and still secret assurances that Farrell would be antiwar in the end. Maybe we will now find out the nature of those assurances. One suspects that if Farrell had adopted a strong antiwar position and challenged her Green opponent that way, rather than conniving to force him out, she might have won the race. But then of course she would have lost Rahm’s lucre.
JOHN V. WALSH can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
He welcomes more information on the machinations of Schumer or of Rahm, the loser.
(3) Rahm’s Losers: Darcy Burner (WA), Phyllis Busansky (FL), Francine Busby (CA), John Cranley (OH), Jill Derby (NV), Tammy Duckworth (IL), Diane Farrell (CT), Steve Filson (CA), Tessa Hafen (NV), Mary Jo Kilroy (OH), Ken Lucas (KY), Patsy Madrid (NM), Lois Murphy (PA). Winners: Brad Ellsworth (IN), Kirsten Gillibrand (NY), Baron Hill (IN), Ron Klein (FL), Harry Mitchell (AZ), Chris Murphy (CT), Heath Shuler (NC), Peter Welch, who was apparently antiwar (VT). Undecided: Joe Courtney (CT).