Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

Meet Rahm Emanuel, the Democrats' New Gatekeeper

Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

Meet Rahm Emanuel, the Democrats' New Gatekeeper

Article excerpt

At a recent meeting of House Republicans, members ruminating on the disastrous state of their party reportedly murmured with gloomy jocularity about the administration of "President Hastert." A CounterPuncher familiar with the proceedings reports "they were only half joking."

Yet, as they contemplate political ruin in next year's election, these Republicans can take solace in the fact that, if defeated, their replacements may not differ in any meaningful way on important issues of the day. That at least is the hope and dream of Democratic apparatchik Rahm Emanuel and the corporate toadies he represents. Ominously, Emanuel, a relict of the Clinton White House, heads the Democratic National Campaign Committee.

As such, he decides which candidates for the House should get money and other support from the national party. At a time when any fool can see that the public hates the war more this month than last, and will hate it even more next month and the month after that, Emanuel is doing his best to recruit candidates, preferably rich ones, guaranteed to eschew vocal opposition to the war.

Clear evidence for this proclivity is evident in the race to succeed Henry Hyde, in Chicago's 6th District.

In the last election progressive candidate Christine Cegalis actually got 44.2 percent of the vote against the 16-term Hyde, despite being outspent $700,000 to $160,000 in a conservative district with no elected Democrats at all.

Following this commendable showing, Cegalis figured that with Hyde retiring and the Republicans melting down, she stood a better-than-even chance of garnering the seat in 2006.

However it seems that in Emanuel's opinion, Cegalis stinks. Never mind that excellent record against the giant Hyde, forget her well-crafted support network in the Chicago district, Cegalis has not yet raised a million dollars and, even more damningly, she is calling for troop withdrawal from Iraq. So Emanuel set out to recruit a more suitable candidate. Initially, he approached two millionaires and urged them, serially, to run against Cegalis in the primary.

They refused. Now he is pinning his hopes on a double amputee woman Iraq veteran, Tammy Duckworth.

Duckworth, who is not from the district, has ignited hopes at DCCC headquarters that she would campaign on a "pro-business/centrist platform. …

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