Home of the Whopper: Emanuel Sauces Up Obama’s Record Before Serving in Iowa
No one will ever be able to accuse of Mayor Rahm Emanuel of lacking chutzpah.
It had been widely anticipated that Chief of Staff Emanuel was going to be asked to leave the White House in 2011. Fortuitously, Emanuel bailed out earlier and landed safely in Chicago after Richard M. Daley retired. Emanuel was spared the indignity of being sacked as the scapegoat for Democratic losses in the midterm elections. Ever the nimble dancer, Emanuel, has now hit the road on behalf of Obama’s reelection campaign. Emanuel has taken on a Herculean task greater than solving Chicago’s budgetary woes. He is trying to argue that Obama has an actual record of solid accomplishments that warrants a second term.
While serving up red meat to a Jefferson-Jackson Day fundraising dinner audience in Des Moines on Saturday, Emanuel, who lost a finger tip as the result of a teenage accident that occurred while he was working at Arby’s, behaved as if his prior fast food experience had been obtained at “Burger King, the Home of the Whopper.” Emanuel served up so many whoppers on behalf of Barack “Hoover” Obama that space limitations will not permit all of the misstatements to be catalogued in a single column. After his Catskills comedy routine, in which he aimed most of his fire at Mitt Romney, killed the Democrats in Iowa, Emanuel took to the television airwaves for an encore performance on Sunday morning. Let’s take a look at some of the most egregious distortions:
Quoting Obama, Emanuel described the Iraq War as “a war that should have never been authorized and should have never been waged.” Emanuel added, with a flourish, “The war is over.”
There are several points of serious disconnect contained in Emanuel’s prepared remarks: most importantly, Democrats joined in supporting the bipartisan 2002 resolution that authorized the war. Emanuel, himself, consistently voted to continue funding the war. As a candidate, Emanuel, spoke in favor of strong military response and throughout his tenure in Congress, Emanuel supported the war on terror. He now comes across as a hypocrite, but that is an occupational hazard for a progressive politician. So much for Emanuel, what about Obama? Despite candidate Obama’s campaign trail rhetoric, which was designed to win primary votes and secure the nomination, Obama continued waging the unpopular war for more than three years after assuming the presidency. He never came close to making good on his promise to end the fighting as soon as he entered office. Troop withdrawals have not been completed yet. In terms of intellectual honesty, the advantage has to be ceded to Dick Cheney, but, like George W. Bush, he is not running in this election.
Obama and his surrogates prefer to campaign against candidates who are not on the ballot. In faulting the Bush administration for the current economic woes that America is facing, Emanuel, acting as Obama’s proxy, cannot bring himself to admit that the Community Reinvestment Act which triggered the collapse of the real estate market was an unsustainable Democratic initiative that was enacted during the presidency of Jimmy Carter and expanded by Bill Clinton. Barney Frank, Chris Dodd and Maxine Waters, three key defenders of the Community Reinvestment Act, were not and are not Republicans.
This is a risky argument to be entrusted to Emanuel since his former boss, Clinton, also appointed him to the Board of Directors of the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation (Freddie Mac). Emanuel earned an estimated $320,000 for his part-time service on the board which was later faulted in an investigative report for failing to properly fulfill its regulatory duties. Clouding the mystery further, the Obama administration has refused to release documents relating to Emanuel’s tenure on the board and denied requests made pursuant to the Freedom of Information Act. New allegations have been recently published that suggest Emanuel may have sold his own Freddie Mac stock short in order to realize a profit. If the allegations are someday proven to be true, such actions might be construed to be a form of insider trading.
One of the most absurd statements that Emanuel made in Iowa was that, as the former President of the Harvard Law Review, Obama had the opportunity to make “millions” in a lucrative law practice, but chose instead to dedicate himself to community service. This distorts the historical record more than a trifle: Obama was a community organizer prior to law school, not afterwards. What Emanuel was trying to reaffirm by eliding past the truth is the notion that Obama is exceptionally well suited to be president because he is so much more of an intellectual than you and I and, of course, the other less sophisticated politicians seeking the Republican nomination. This is worrisome since because the last self-proclaimed genius from the South Side of Chicago to serve in Washington before Obama’s ascendancy was a purported Rhodes scholar by the name of Mel Reynolds.
Obama has garnered almost unlimited mileage out of his attendance at Harvard, but, in reality, he never produced much more than a footnote while on the law review staff. That single footnote is probably the second most famous footnote in American history. Supreme Court Justice Harlan Fiske Stone’s celebrated footnote in the Carolene Products case provided a point of reference concerning cases of economic legislation being subjected to attack on the basis of substantive due process considerations. Obama’s solitary footnote is one of the precious few pieces of evidence that he was ever a member the law review. He never managed to produce a single law review article and his official transcripts are as closely guarded as the nuclear missile launch codes. Nevertheless, his entire career has been based upon his scholastic achievements, if any.
While Obama definitely had several opportunities to initiate a career as a prominent lawyer, he never quite made it beyond the entry level. After working as a clerk and, briefly, as an associate at two prominent Chicago law firms (Sidley Austin and Hopkins & Sutter), he quickly opted out of big law. Neither Barack Obama nor his wife, the former Michelle Robinson, managed to stay the course and be fast tracked for partnerships. They both found it more remunerative to play insider politics. As an academic, Obama never tried to obtain a full-time law school faculty appointment at the University of Chicago, which could have been his for the asking. Curiously, Barack Obama managed to remain “of counsel” to the Davis, Miner, Barnhill & Galland law firm for two years after he had voluntarily placed his law license on inactive status. As for his work record at this politically connected firm, the best word describing his job title there is “sinecure.”
Quite possibly the most risible distortion of reality that Emanuel made during his Iowa trip occurred in a separate interview with Abdon Pallasch of the Chicago Sun-Times. Emanuel defended Obama as “an incredible friend” and “a strong and stalwart supporter of Israel.”
Emanuel chose his words carefully, but, taken in context, his emphasis was deliberately misplaced.
It would be truly “incredible” to call Obama a supporter of Israel. Trying running Emanuel’s unqualified endorsement of Obama’s Middle East policies past someone like Benjamin Netanyahu, the Prime Minister of Israel.
The fact that Obama has been vociferously criticized for his pro-Arab and pro-Palestinian positions by genuine supporters of Israel, including those who participated at the recent Jewish Policy Center forum and panel discussion forum at the Beth Hillel Congregation Bnai Emunah last month, has not registered with Emanuel. Beth Hillel should be familiar to Emanuel as it is located on Big Tree Lane in the same area of Wilmette, where “Chicago Rahm” spent his formative years. Had a straw poll been taken among the thousand persons in attendance that evening, the runaway winner would have been an undetermined candidate with the initials A.B.O. (Anyone But Obama).
It is going to be an ugly campaign, filled with slander and character assassination, as Emanuel’s Iowa visit has demonstrated.
Daniel J. Kelley is a contributor to “The Chicago Daily Observer.”