Early last year, Ryan Lizza punched out a dope profile in GQ of Rahm Emmanuel, the foul-mouthed Congressman and power broker from Illinois. Just before the 2006 midterms that gave the Democrats back the House, Lizza asks Rahm a fairly boilerplate question about their prospects.
“So how many seats do you think you’re going to win?”
Rahm flashes the impatient stare that is a cross between contempt and pity, followed by a sigh and a long, uncomfortable silence. I brace myself for the tirade—or the freeze-out. He’s been known to meet reporters for lunch or dinner and, if they fail to impress, spend the meal ignoring them. And within the first forty-five seconds or so of our first interview, he called me a fucking idiot—though I soon learned I wasn’t special in that regard. James Carville, Rahm’s pal since their days together on the 1992 Clinton campaign, later told me not to sweat it: “Everybody is a fucking idiot to Rahm.” Not even Bill Clinton is spared. When I ask the former president what is the bluntest thing Rahm has ever said to him, he tells me, “It’s unprintable.”
Now ABC is reporting that Obama has formally offered Rahm a spot as his chief of staff. But will he take it?
Emanuel, a knowledgeable source tells ABC News, has not yet given his answer. The sharp-tongued, sharp-elbowed, keenly intelligent veteran of the Clinton White House is said to have ambitions to some day be Speaker of the House. But he also has a keen sense of “duty.”
Today on “Good Morning America” ABC’s George Stephanopoulos reported Obama likes the fact that Emanuel “knows policy, knows politics, knows Capitol Hill” and has told associates that Emanuel would “have his back.”
There is a tentative plan to announce Obama’s chief of staff this week.
(As a completely random aside: Rahm’s equally caustic brother, Ari Emmanuel, is a movie agent, and the inspiration for Jeremy Piven’s character on Entourage.)