While Rahm Emanuel partied in Hollywood, he was getting pummeled in the hometowns he’d left behind. In Chicago, mayoral rival Gery Chico held a $50 fundraiser at the Hollywood Grill in Wicker Park. And Carol Moseley Braun, another mayoral rival, blamed Emanuel for the Democrats’ loss of 60 seats in the House of Representatives.
After “pushing policies that [led] to the biggest Democratic Party political loss in 27 years … he left the president holding the bag” by moving back to Chicago to run for mayor, Moseley Braun told the Sun-Times.
Meanwhile, D.C. insiders looking for someone to blame settled on a guy 3,000 miles away.
“It was Rahm who always said, ‘We’ve just got to put points on the board,’ and that’s why we have a transactional presidency,” one anonymous colleague told the Daily Beast. “The only problem is that Obama is not a transactional politician. It was Rahm’s strategy and then he leaves a month before the election for his own personal political career. It’s extraordinary.”
Emanuel built his reputation as a tough, profane, do-anything-to-win politician by leading the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee in 2006, when the Democrats took control of the House for the first time in 12 years. You can read all about it in The Thumpin’: How Rahm Emanuel and the Democrats Learned to Be Ruthless and Ended the Republican Revolution, the uncensored, Rahm-o-centric account by former Tribune reporter Naftali Bendavid. It was one reason Obama chose him as White House chief of staff.
On Tuesday, 14 members of that Democratic class of 2006 lost their elections. Only 12 won. The score for Democrats who were swept in with Obama two years ago was even worse -- six won, while 21 lost. The majority that Rahm helped build is gone from Washington and so is he, having escaped before he received his own thumpin’.
Emanuel has shown a knack for being in the right place at the right time. In 2006, after Hurricane Katrina drowned New Orleans and the Bush Administration gave up on finding weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, it was a good time to be a Democrat in Washington. This year, it was a good time to be anywhere but Washington. If Emanuel takes credit for the Democrats’ victories, so should he also take the blame for their defeats, especially since he helped lead the administration so many Americans voted against this week. It doesn’t matter whether he was in Chicago, Washington or Hollywood.