Thursday, November 06, 2008

Rahm Israel Emanuel Biography

Rahm Israel Emanuel

Rahm Israel Emanuel
Rahm Israel Emanuel (born November 29, 1959) is an Israeli-American politician who has been a Democratic member of the United States House of Representatives since 2003, representing Illinois's 5th congressional district, which covers much of the north side of Chicago and parts of suburban Cook County.
Emanuel was chair of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee for the 2006 elections. After the Democratic Party regained control of the House, he was elected as the next chairman of the Democratic Caucus. He is the fourth-ranking Democrat in the House, behind Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Leader Steny Hoyer and Whip Jim Clyburn.

Emanuel is noted for his strong style and his fundraising prowess. He is co-author with current Democratic Leadership Council President Bruce Reed of the 2006 book The Plan: Big Ideas for America. He is a member of the New Democrat Coalition. Rahm Emanuel is a founding member and the Co-Chair of the Congressional Serbian Caucus.

On November 6, 2008, Emanuel accepted an offer from President-elect Barack Obama to become the White House Chief of Staff in Obama's administration, which begins on January 20, 2009.

Rahm Emanuel (Hebrew: רם עמנואל‎) was born in Chicago, Illinois. His first name, Rahm, means "high" or "lofty" in Hebrew, while his last name, Emanuel, means "God is with us." His father, the Jerusalem-born Benjamin M. Emanuel, is a pediatrician and former member of the Irgun (Irgun Zeva'i Le'ummi), a military Nationalist group treated as a terrorist organization during British rule. His mother, Martha Smulevitz, worked as an X-ray technician and was the daughter of a local union organizer. She became a civil rights activist; she was also once the owner of a Chicago-area rock and roll club. The two met in Chicago in the 1950s. Emanuel's older brother, Ezekiel, is an oncologist and bioethicist, and his brother Ari is a talent agent in Los Angeles who inspired Jeremy Piven's character Ari Gold on the HBO series Entourage. Emanuel himself is the inspiration for the character Josh Lyman on The West Wing. He also has a younger sister named Shoshanna, 14 years his junior.

When his family lived in Chicago, he attended Bernard Zell Anshe Emet Day School, a Jewish day school. After his family moved to Wilmette, he attended public school: Romona School, Wilmette Junior High School, and New Trier West High School. He graduated from Sarah Lawrence College in 1981, and went on to receive a master's degree in Speech and Communication from Northwestern University in 1985. While still an undergraduate, he joined the congressional campaign of David Robinson of Chicago.

His father, still practicing near Chicago, emigrated to the United States from Israel. Emanuel volunteered as a civilian volunteer in the Israel Defense Forces during the 1991 Gulf War, serving in one of Israel's northern bases, rust-proofing brakes.
Emanuel's wife Amy Rule, a graduate of the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania converted to Modern Orthodox Judaism shortly before her wedding. They are members of Anshe Shalom, a modern Orthodox congregation in Chicago. They have three children, son Zacharias and daughters Ilana and Leah.

Dick Morris on Rahm Emanuel
Emanuel is a long time close friend of fellow Chicagoan David Axelrod, Chief Strategist for the 2008 Barack Obama presidential campaign. Axelrod signed the ketubah at Emanuel's wedding, an honor that goes to a best friend.

Rabbi Asher Lopatin of Anshe Sholom B'nai Israel Congregation, is quoted as saying: "It's a very involved Jewish family"; "Amy was one of the teachers for a class for children during the High Holidays two years ago." Emanuel has said of his Judaism: "I am proud of my heritage and treasure the values it has taught me." Emanuel's family lives on the North Side of Chicago, in the North Center neighborhood.

Emanuel trains for and participates in triathlons.

He began his political career with the public interest and consumer rights organization Illinois Public Action. He went on to serve in a number of capacities in local and national politics, initially specializing in fundraising for Illinois campaigns and then nationally.

Emanuel worked for Democrat Paul Simon's 1984 election to the U.S. Senate, was the national campaign director for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee in 1988, and then was senior advisor and chief fundraiser for Richard M. Daley's victorious campaign for Mayor of Chicago in 1989.

At the start of then-Arkansas Governor Bill Clinton's presidential primary campaign Emanuel was appointed to direct the campaign's finance committee. Emanuel insisted that Clinton schedule a lot of time for fundraising and greatly delay campaigning in New Hampshire. After much dispute within the campaign about the issue, Clinton eventually agreed, embarking on an aggressive fundraising campaign across the nation. The fundraising paid off later, providing the campaign a vital buffer to keep buying television time as attacks on Clinton's character threatened to swamp the campaign during the New Hampshire primary.[citation needed]

Clinton's most serious primary rival, Paul Tsongas (the New Hampshire Democratic primary winner in 1992), later withdrew, citing a lack of campaign funds. Richard Mintz, a Washington public relations consultant who worked with Emanuel on the campaign, spoke about the soundness of the idea: "It was that million dollars that really allowed the campaign to withstand the storm we had to ride out in New Hampshire [over Clinton's relationship with Gennifer Flowers and the controversy over his draft status during the Vietnam War]." Emanuel's knowledge of the top donors in the country, and his rapport with potential donors within the Jewish community helped Clinton amass a then-unheard-of sum of $72 million.

Rep. Emanuel: Iraq Accountability Act Conference Report
Following the campaign, Emanuel became a senior advisor to Clinton at the White House from 1993 to 1998. In the White House, Emanuel was initially Assistant to the President for Political Affairs and then Senior Advisor to the President for Policy and Strategy. He was a leading strategist in the unsuccessful White House efforts to institute universal healthcare and many other Clinton initiatives.
One of his proudest moments during the Clinton administration "was an event that touched his political sensibilities and his personal ties to Israel: the 1993 Rose Garden signing ceremony after the Oslo Accords between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. Emanuel directed the details of the ceremony, down to the choreography of the famous handshake between Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat."

Emanuel is said to have "mailed a rotting fish to a former coworker after the two parted ways." On the night after the 1996 election, "Emanuel was so angry at the president's enemies that he stood up at a celebratory dinner with colleagues from the campaign, grabbed a steak knife and began rattling off a list of betrayers, shouting 'Dead! ... Dead! ... Dead!' and plunging the knife into the table after every name." His "take-no-prisoners attitude" earned him the nickname "Rahm-bo".

People who worked with Emanuel at that time "insist the once hard-charging staffer has mellowed out." He left the White House to accept a well-paid position at Dresdner Kleinwort investment bank in Chicago, where he worked from 1999 to 2002 and reportedly earned US$18 million. Emanuel also served on the Board of Directors for Freddie Mac from 2002-2004.

Following the end of the Clinton presidency, Emanuel went into investment banking, reportedly earning $8 million in his three years as managing director of Wasserstein Perella & Co./Dresdner Kleinwort. Deciding to return to politics, he pursued the U.S. House seat in the 5th District of Illinois previously held by Rod Blagojevich, who chose not to run for re-election, but instead successfully ran for Governor of Illinois.

His strongest opponent of the seven other candidates in the 2002 Democratic primary — the real contest in this heavily Democratic district — was former Illinois State Representative Nancy Kaszak, who had unsuccessfully opposed Blagojevich in the 1996 primary. The most controversial moment of the primary election came when Edward Moskal, president of the Polish American Congress, a political action committee endorsing Kaszak, called Emanuel a "millionaire carpetbagger who knows nothing" about "our heritage". Moskal also charged that Emanuel had dual citizenship with Israel and had served in the Israeli Army. Rahm was a civilian volunteer in the Israel Defense Forces during the 1991 Gulf War and was born a citizen due to his father's (dual) Israeli-U.S. citizenship, but relinquished it when he turned 18.

Emanuel brought together a coalition of Chicago clergy to denounce the incident. He recalled, "One of the proudest moments of my life was seeing people of my district from all backgrounds demonstrate our common values by coming together in response to this obvious attempt to divide them." Moskal's comments were denounced as anti-Semitic by many, including Kaszak. Emanuel won the primary and easily defeated Republican candidate Mark Augusti in the general election. Emanuel supported the October 2002 joint Congressional resolution authorizing the Iraq War, differentiating himself from all nine other Democratic members of the Illinois Congressional delegation (Sen. Richard Durbin, Reps. Bobby Rush, Jesse Jackson, Jr., Bill Lipinski, Luis Gutiérrez, Danny K. Davis, Jan Schakowsky, Jerry Costello and Evans) elected in 2002.

Emanuel was named the Chair of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee in 2005. Prior to his work for Clinton, Emanuel had been an employee of the Committee, which principally serves to recruit candidates for the House and to raise funds to assist both new candidates and incumbents from the Democratic party in an effort to gain Democratic representation in the House.

He declared that in his new role "winning is everything", and he urged Democratic candidates to adopt more centrist positions. Emanuel was known to have had disagreements over Democratic election strategy with Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean. Dean favored a "50 state strategy", building support for the Democratic Party over the long term, while Emanuel believed a more tactical approach, focusing attention on key districts, was necessary to ensure victory.

Ultimately the Democratic Party enjoyed considerable success in the 2006 elections, gaining 30 seats in the House. Emanuel has received considerable praise for his stewardship of the DCCC during this election cycle, even from Illinois Republican Rep. Ray LaHood who said "He legitimately can be called the golden boy of the Democratic Party today. He recruited the right candidates, found the money and funded them, and provided issues for them. Rahm did what no one else could do in seven cycles." Nevertheless, some of the 2006 victories came in areas that had trended strongly Republican in recent years, such as Nancy Boyda's defeat of Jim Ryun in Kansas.

Emanuel still is close to Bill Clinton, and talked strategy with him at least once a month as chairman of the DCCC. He declared in April 2006 that he would support Hillary Rodham Clinton should she pursue the presidency in 2008. However, Emanuel's loyalties came into conflict when his home-state senator Barack Obama expressed interest in the race; asked in January 2007 about his stance on the Democratic presidential nomination, he said: "I'm hiding under the desk. I'm very far under the desk, and I'm bringing my paper and my phone."

Open Secrets reports that Rahm Emanuel "was the top House recipient in the 2008 election cycle of contributions from hedge funds, private equity firms and the larger securities/investment industry".

After his role in helping the Democrats to win the 2006 elections, Emanuel was believed to be a leading candidate for the position of Majority Whip. Nancy Pelosi, who became the next Speaker of the House, persuaded him not to challenge Jim Clyburn, but instead to succeed Clyburn in the role of Democratic Caucus Chairman. In return, Pelosi agreed to assign the caucus chair more responsibilities, including "aspects of strategy and messaging, incumbent retention, policy development and rapid-response communications". Caucus vice-chair John Larson remained in this role instead of running for the chairman position.

After U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney asserted that he did not fall within the bounds of orders set for the executive branch, Emanuel called for cutting off the $4.8 million the Executive Branch provides for the Vice President's office. Cheney's office subsequently backed down from the claim.

During his original 2002 campaign, Emanuel "indicated his support of President Bush's position on Iraq, but said he believed the president needed to better articulate his position to the American people".[16] Inspired by his pediatrician father, one of the major goals he spoke of during the race was "to help make health care affordable and available for all Americans".[16]

Emanuel has maintained a 100 percent pro-choice voting record and is generally liberal on social issues. He has aligned himself with the center-right of the Democratic Party, the Democratic Leadership Council.

Emanuel, whose father was in Irgun, is a strong supporter of AIPAC, and personally introduced fellow Chicagoan Barack Obama to the organization's directors during the 2008 presidential campaign. According to Fox News, in accordance with his deep Jewish roots and his volunteering in Israel when it was under attack from Saddam Hussein's missiles in the first Gulf War, he has indicated consistent support for Israel. A November 2008 article claimed that while expressing empathy for Palestinians, Emanuel has explicitly condemned their leaders. In June 2007, Emanuel condemned an outbreak of Palestinian violence in the Gaza Strip and criticized Arab countries for not applying the same kind of pressure on the Palestinians as they have on Israel. "Fatah and Hamas are tearing the Palestinian area of the Gaza strip apart in what they call a political rivalry, and the Palestinian people are paying a price for Palestinian violence," he said at the time. "Governments from around the world and the Arab world have said nothing. ... I just want you to think for a second, if this were the result of Israeli-Palestinian hostilities, would the international silence and the silence of the Arab world be this deafening?" At a 2003 pro-Israel rally in Chicago, Emanuel told the marchers Israel was ready for peace but would not get there until Palestinians "turn away from the path of terror", according to the Chicago Tribune.

Emanuel held a seat on the quasi-governmental Freddie Mac board, which paid him $231,655 in director’s fees in 2001 and $31,060 in 2000...During the time Emanuel spent on the board, Freddie Mac was plagued with scandal involving campaign contributions and accounting irregularities…"

A 2006 Chicago Tribune article raised speculation regarding a possible connection between Emanuel's Congressional election success and convicted former Chicago water department boss Don Tomczak.

USA Today reported in late January 2007 that Emanuel failed to disclose that he was an officer of a family charity, a violation of law requiring members of Congress to report non-profit leadership roles. The charity does not ask for outside donations and is funded by Emanuel and his family.

On November 6, 2008, Emanuel accepted the position of White House Chief of Staff for Barack Obama. He would become the third Jewish Chief of Staff, after Kenneth Duberstein, Chief of Staff to Ronald Reagan, and Joshua Bolten, Chief of Staff to George W. Bush.

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