Rahm’s Richly Earned Enemies

If you are wondering why self-conscious progressives seem so invested in Chuy Garcia’s challenge to Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, all your answers are in a column by Heather Digby Parton at Salon. It goes back well beyond Rahm’s tenure as mayor, or as Obama’s chief of staff, to his chairmanship of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee in the landslide election year of 2006, in which he was (as only he can be) abrasively contemptuous of what was then called the “netroots” wing of the party, and eager to take credit for Democratic gains.

His crude dismissal of grassroots concerns was blatant. His contempt for anyone who disagreed with his centrist Blue Dog/New Democrat philosophy was palpable. While his wholehearted support for big money interests was seen as the ultimate in strategic brilliance by the beltway elites, it repelled Democratic activists everywhere.

You have to remember this was happening in the wake of a 2004 election cycle that (much like 1968) was a time of awakening for the Democratic Left yet ultimately a season of bitter disappointment. Emanual was happy to act as a caricature of the smug insider whose tough-minded “pragmatism” allowed little time for the feckless hippies, and now, when he’s in some political trouble, it’s payback time.

Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.