Rahm Israel Emanuel life and biography

Rahm Israel Emanuel picture, image, poster

Rahm Israel Emanuel biography

Date of birth : 1959-11-29
Date of death : -
Birthplace : Chicago, Illinois, USA
Nationality : American
Category : Politics
Last modified : 2010-07-05
Credited as : Politician, White House Chief of Staff , Obama administration

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Rahm Israel Emanuel, born November 29, 1959 in Chicago, Illinois, United States , is an American politician currently serving as White House Chief of Staff to President Barack Obama. He served previously as senior advisor to President Clinton at the White House from 1993 to 1998 and as a Democratic member of the United States House of Representatives, representing Illinois's 5th congressional district, from 2003 until his resignation in 2009 to take up his current position in the Obama Administration.

Emanuel was chair of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee during the 2006 mid-term elections and remained a top strategist for House Democrats during the 2008 cycle. After Democrats regained control of the House in 2006, Emanuel was elected chairman of the Democratic Caucus. This made him the fourth-ranking House Democrat, behind Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Majority Leader Steny Hoyer and Majority Whip Jim Clyburn. Two days after Obama's election victory, he was announced as Barack Obama's designate for White House Chief of Staff. Emanuel resigned from the House on January 2, 2009 and began his current job on January 20, 2009, the day of Obama's inauguration.


Rahm Emanuel marked the Clinton administration not only with his bulldozer personality, but with an irrepressible enthusiasm for getting things done. Emanuel was tapped by the Clinton camp early in the first presidential campaign, and set records for fund-raising. He moved on to a Special Projects post in the Clinton White House, and gave up his position as senior White House advisor late in 1998. A centrist with strong influence on Clinton's domestic policy, Rahm Emanuel's efforts produced numerous policy successes for the President. In 2008, president-elect Barack Obama chose Emanuel as White House Chief of Staff and he has continued to exert a strong influence on Obama's administration.

Emanuel was born four months after his parents moved to the United States from Israel in 1959. His father, Benjamin, is a pediatrician, and his American-born mother, Marsha, a psychiatric social worker. The Emanuels raised three sons in the Chicago area. The eldest, Ezekiel, is an oncologist and nationally known medical ethicist. The youngest son, Ariel, is a Hollywood talent agent with his own firm. The youngest is adopted daughter, Shoshana. Emanuel is married to Amy Rule, and the couple are the parents of two children.

The Israeli influence is very strong in Emanuel's life. Every summer, Rahm and his brothers went to camp in Israel. Emanuel's paternal grandfather left Odessa and emigrated to Palestine in 1917. His father was born there in 1922. Roger Simon reported in the New Republic that Emanuel's grandfather supported David Ben-Gurion's underground Haganah in the fight for Israeli independence, and his father fought in Menachem Begin's underground Irgun, running guns and putting up movie posters that carried secret codes. According to Simon, when Emanuel's uncle, Manuel, died in the fighting, the family changed its name from Auerbach to Emanuel to honor him. For the next fifteen years, he maintained dual American-Israeli citizenship. According to People magazine, he dropped his Israeli citizenship only when keeping it would have meant being subject to the Israeli military draft.

Daley Campaign

Emanuel's first political job was in 1980 during his senior year in college, when he worked on the congressional campaign of David Robinson of Illinois. Emanuel attended Sarah Lawrence College, in Bronxville, New York, where he earned a B.A. degree in 1981. Emanuel earned an M.A. degree in speech and communications from Northwestern University in 1985. After serving as the Midwest field director for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee in 1989, and then as the committee's national campaign director, he set up his own Chicago-based political consulting firm. He worked with clients including Mayor Richard Daley and Virginia Governor Douglas Wilder.

In 1991, the Gulf War broke out while Emanuel was working on the re-election campaign of Richard Daley. At a time when thousands of Israelis were leaving Israel, Roger Simon, reporting for the New Republic, stated that Emanuel "flew there to volunteer . . . and spent the duration of the brief war working at an army base in Northern Israel, rust-proofing brakes."

Clinton Fund-Raiser

Emanuel was hired as Clinton's national finance director in November 1991. When he arrived, there was only $600,000 in the bank. Emanuel rolled up his sleeves and organized 26 fund-raising events between Thanksgiving and Christmas that netted more than $3 million. By the time the campaign was over, Emanuel surprised everyone by raising a record-breaking $71 million.

Simon noted that when the campaign was finished, Emanuel had the survival instinct to leave fund-raising behind him. "I don't want to be known as a fund-raiser," Emanuel told Chicago magazine in 1992. But a nod from the President for a staff position was not out of the question. "There's the folklore of the parents who are proud of their son, the doctor," Emanuel told People. "My goal is that Jewish parents can also say, 'My son, the political consultant.'"

His goal would not go unfulfilled. After Clinton's win in 1992, Emanuel was asked to organize the inaugural celebrations. Working with a 300-member staff, People reported that Emanuel set up five days of events, including a Bill Clinton-Al Gore bus tour, 11 balls, several concerts, and the opening of the White House to the general public. "This is like being the CEO of . . . what? Of 3,500 bar mitzvahs," he said to Jill Abramson of the Wall Street Journal.

Point Man for Special Projects

After Clinton's inauguration, Emanuel was given a new position as the president's political director, but his style clashed with veteran staffers. In less than a year, Emanuel was given the title of director of special projects, and was exiled to an office that he described in Current Biography as "a White House closet with a Playskool phone." Emanuel's first assignment in his new role was to help coordinate the White House's effort to pass the North American Free Trade Agreement. He also helped with the welfare and immigration reform bills of 1996, among other legislation. Emanuel demonstrated an ability to work tirelessly on any given project, and showed a drive that helped persuade others to go along or get out of the way. Although relentless in his efforts, he proved moderate in his policies and helped paint Clinton as a more-centrist, less-liberal president in his second term.

Became Senior Presidential Adviser

Many sources suggest that Emanuel was prepared to leave the White House after Clinton's first term. He was convinced to stay, however, when he was offered a promotion to George Stephanopolous' job as senior adviser to the president and executive assistant to the chief of staff for policy.

Emanuel would play a key role in helping to form the administration's domestic policy. He would use Stephanopoulos's old office, next to the president's private dining room adjoining the Oval Office. Emanuel would also play a central role in fashioning the administration's handling of the Monica Lewinsky scandal. "He gets things done," then-Chief of Staff Erskine Bowles told Simon. "He gets them done on time, and he gets them done right."

One of Emanuel's practices was to follow-up the president's policy statements with plenty of media exposure. Emanuel appeared frequently on such shows as ABC's Good Morning America and Nightline, explaining and selling the president's policies on the assault weapons ban and anti-kids tobacco policy, among others. When the time came again for Emanuel to consider other opportunities, no one expected anyone to fully replace Emanuel. "It will take two or three people," one senior official told the New Republic.

Teaching at Northwestern

In October of 1998, Emanuel stepped down from his position as senior policy adviser. He had been making plans for departure for some time, and his decision was not influenced by the president's impeachment travails. Emanuel's departure coincided with the birth of his second child and prompted him to relocate back to his native Chicago. Among other things, Emanuel planned a career in investment banking and part-time teaching at Northwestern University. Emanuel told the Washington Post: "I've been very proud of the work I've done for this president to push his agenda. But everybody's got to make their own decision on their own time. This is a time when I need to bring a little equilibrium into my life."

From 2003 to 2009, Emanual served as a Congressional representative from Illinois's 5th Congressional district. During the 2006 midterm elections of Congress, he served as chair of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. Enough Democrats were elected to give the party a majority, and Emanuel was elected chair of the Democratic Caucus, making him the fourth-ranking House Democrat. Also in 2006, Emanual published a book, co-authored with Bruce Reed, The Plan: Big Ideas for America. Among other things, the book advocated compulsory national service for all Americans between the ages of 18 and 25. Services would include infrastructure rebuilding, helping the elderly, working in education, and cleaning up the environment, among others.

In 2009, Emanuel resigned from his congressional seat to become President Barack Obama's White House Chief of Staff. As in his previous roles, he is noted for his hard-driving personality and will to get things done.

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