The New Team: Rahm Emanuel, Potential Chief of Staff

November 6, 2008

rahm-emanuel-2.JPGAs he prepares to take office, President-elect Barack Obama is relying on a small team of advisers who will lead his transition operation and help choose the members of a new Obama administration. Following is part of a series of profiles of potential members of the administration.

Name: Rahm Emanuel

Being considered for: White House chief of staff

Would bring to the job: An unusual hybrid of high-level experience as a top
adviser to President Bill Clinton together with proven expertise as a
Congressional leader and political strategist. Mr. Emanuel is also a
close friend of Mr. Obama, a fellow Chicagoan.

As the No. 4
Democrat in the House and an architect of the Democratic majority, Mr.
Emanuel knows Congress from the inside out after winning his seat in
2002. In the Clinton administration, he was aggressive, frequently
profane and instrumental in shaping domestic policy on issues like
health care, welfare and trade.

He earned the nickname Rahmbo
for his determination and take-no-prisoners approach — an advantage
when trying to bring a thorny issue to resolution, but a style that can
be off-putting to those accustomed to gentility. Mr. Obama might also
decide to keep Mr. Emanuel on Capitol Hill to protect his flank, and
the Democratic House majority. Should he resign his seat, Mr. Emanuel
would be relinquishing a promising House career and aspirations to
become speaker.

Is linked to Obama by:
His Second City roots (Mr. Emanuel represents a slice of the north side
of Chicago and adjoining suburbs) and his ties to the family of Mayor
Richard M. Daley, which has been a source of support, guidance and
experience for Mr. Emanuel, who was initially known for his
fund-raising skills.

Mr. Obama has been close to Mr. Emanuel
since arriving on Capitol Hill; Mr. Emanuel considers David Axelrod,
Mr. Obama’s chief strategist, to be one of his closest friends. The
three share a common policy view and would make a formidable
triumvirate in the White House. Mr. Emanuel found himself under
pressure during the Democratic presidential primaries to back Senator
Hillary Rodham Clinton, given his relationship with her husband. But he
stayed neutral and ultimately endorsed Mr. Obama.

In his own words: “We’re
going to put in front of the American people the fundamental question
of this election: Who’s going to change the economic policies in
Washington that resulted in a lower standard of living for middle-class
From an Obama campaign conference call with reporters on Sept. 12, 2008.

Used to work as:
An investment banker for three years after leaving the White House and
before being elected to the House. He banked $16 million while handling
mergers and acquisitions with an emphasis on utilities. In his youth,
Mr. Emanuel badly cut a finger on a meat slicer while working at an
Arby’s. The wound became infected, and he lost half of the middle
finger on his right hand. The shortened digit is something of a

Carries as baggage: Mr.
Emanuel’s stint in high finance and his experience in the banking world
opens him to some criticism of being too allied with Wall Street, not
the image Democrats want to cultivate these days. Critics have asserted
he was only able to succeed in the banking world because of his
political connections. Since he is part of the Daley circle, Mr.
Emanuel’s appointment as chief of staff could also create the
appearance of a White House that is too Chicago heavy. His manner can
also create enemies, and Mr. Emanuel has ruffled the feathers of many
on Capitol Hill, particularly black and Hispanic lawmakers.

Is otherwise known for:
Training as a ballet dancer. And his brother, Ari Emanuel, a Hollywood
agent, is the model for the abrasive agent Ari Gold in the HBO series

Biography includes:
Born Nov. 29, 1959, in Chicago … liberal arts degree from Sarah
Lawrence College, masters from Northwestern … married to Amy Rule,
three children … a regular swimmer and a voracious reader, using his
hours aboard airplanes to consume books … served briefly as a
civilian volunteer on an Israeli military base during the Persian Gulf
war of 1991.

Source: New York Times

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