Skip to comments.Emanuel tells freshmen to avoid Stephen Colbert
Posted on 03/14/2007 8:04:05 PM PDT by Jean S
Rep. Rahm Emanuel (D-Ill.), the Democratic Caucus chairman, has told new Democratic members of Congress to steer clear of Stephen Colbert, or at least his satirical Comedy Central program, The Colbert Report.
He said dont do it its a risk and its probably safer not to do it, said Rep. Steve Cohen. But the freshman lawmaker from Tennessee taped a segment that last week was featured in the 32nd installment of the Better Know a District series. Colbert asked Cohen whether he was a black woman. He isnt.
Eyes (but thankfully, not heads) roll in Emanuels office when other freshmen stumble, such as the time Rep. John Yarmuth (D-Ky.) got into a debate about the merits of throwing kittens into a wood-chipper, or when Rep. Zack Space (D-Ohio) explained that he is not his predecessor, convicted felon Bob Ney (R).
The freshmen respect Emanuel, but they dont always follow his orders. On the other hand, avoiding the kind of publicity that only The Colbert Report can confer on a lawmaker may be the only advice from Emanuel that freshman Democrats are ignoring.
Last year, as the House Democrats chief election strategist, Emanuel engineered the partys takeover of the House by capitalizing on a nationalized midterm election. Now, as the House Democratic spokesman, Emanuel is working to keep freshman Democrats in office. His thoughts on how to manage casework, campaign for reelection, and win favorable press coverage are rooted in former Speaker Tip ONeills (D-Mass.) maxim that all politics is local.
Pay attention to your district, dont go Washington, go home every weekend, is a message Rep. Peter Welch (D-Vt.) said Emanuel has drilled in. Hes encouraging people to stay local and focus on change, change, change. He and [Speaker Nancy] Pelosi (D-Calif.) both say to renew your commitment to change every day be local, be practical and maintain that connection to the district.
Rep. Paul Hodes (D-N.H.) said of Emanuel, He has been helpful and a pain-in-the-you-know-what, to my great benefit hes an advocate for making sure folks in the district know what youre doing Of course, he keeps a close watch on doing what we need to do to get reelected.
Emanuel also understands that what works in a traditional Democratic district wont necessarily work in a more conservative district, Rep. Chris Carney (D-Pa.) said.
If lawmakers are doing their jobs and staying out of trouble, chances are Emanuel wont say anything. If they stumble, he speaks up. Hodes considers Emanuel a mentor who understands the value of tough love.
One freshman who has been on the receiving end of Emanuels tough love is Rep. Steve Kagen (Wis.), who boasted to a group of anti-war activists that he had dressed down President Bushs top political adviser, Karl Rove, during a White House reception. The administration denied the story.
But Emanuel threw a fit. Kagens staff was hauled into the Democratic Caucuss office for lessons on how to handle the media, Democratic sources said.
Rep. Nancy Boyda (D-Kan.) said, It took [Emanuel] three weeks to come down off of the ceiling after she refused to accept the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committees (DCCC) assistance in her bid to win reelection in 2008.
Boyda said Emanuel would worry until November 4, 2008, but he says it in a very caring, grandmotherly way.
Emanuel is not the only House leader advising first-term Democrats. Pelosi hosts a weekly breakfast for freshmen and Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) guides them through the legislative process. Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), chairman of the DCCC, tells new lawmakers that the first 100 days is the time to cement their relationship with voters by ably handling constituent service requests and pushing a positive legislative agenda.
Victory wont be easy in 2008. Democrats may have opportunities to defeat GOP incumbents or pick up open seats, but they first must defend 33 new incumbents of their own. In 1994, House GOPers gained 52 seats and had to protect 73 new freshmen. In 1996, Democrats defeated 12 GOP freshmen and picked up nine seats.
Some first-term Democrats can breathe a bit easier because former GOP lawmakers and conceivably strong GOP candidates have demurred, including former Reps. Richard Pombo (Calif.) and Rob Simmons (Conn.). Reps. Ron Klein (D-Fla.) and Brad Ellsworth (D-Ind.) also have had opponents decline to run.
Despite Emanuels energetic style of browbeating and worrying, freshman lawmakers esteem him.
Hes the Al Davis of Congress, said Rep. Patrick Murphy (D-Pa.), referring to the legendary owner of the Oakland Raiders who coined the phrase, Just win, baby.
Imagine TheHill writing a similar puff piece about, say, Newt Gingrich or Tom DeLay.
They forgot to mention congressman Wexler (D-FL) saying "I like cocaine because it's fun."
Just win, baby.
Of course, here in the 21st century, there is little actual reason for our Congressional representatives to go to Washington in the first place -- they could easily caucus, debate, and vote electronically. But then they would have to stay in their home districts, and be held accountable for their votes by constituents at the grocery store, dry cleaners and the service station. And none of them wants that!
Eggggs-zackly! Video conferencing saves Corp-America a lot of bucks, and I can even partake right here with my web-cam, a high-speed link, and some software. I've 'sat in' on meetings with a dozen other folks!
Our congress critters, tho', would miss their 'perks', fab lunches, dinners, and Happy Hours.....
....and they'd have to, as you point out, mix with us 'common folks'.
Yup! All this jettin' off to Washington basically accomplishes nothing but lots of lunches with lobbyists, TV exposure, knockin' back the good stuff with cronies (Hello, Teddy!), and keeping the escort services in business.
There's no reason at all for Congress to act like it's the 1700s and they all have to personally travel to one building in one city to get their legislatin' done.
They could meet personally in times of national crisis and for events like the State of the Union, but other than that they could get much more done staying in their home districts and "meeting" electronically.
Rolling eyes ping
Emmanuel, the House MOBSTER.
Some grandmothers are more ethical than others...
Think he has stashes of fishes wrapped in newspaper in the freezer, just in case??? LOL
I thought this guy was hiding under his desk.
I saw that. His interviews are usually pretty hilarious, and generally not like the cheap shots at the Republican party that his show takes in his "The Word" segment. He just tries to make his guests look stupid. The genius of this is the fact that, more times than not, if his guests play along, they look like good spirits, willing to take a jab at themselves. They look less like politicans and more like human beings. Most of the candidates Colbert interviewed before the election won their respective seats, even ones that were considered longshots.
I mean, seriously: if your senator says "I like cocaine because it's fun" (and comments that cocaine is better with hookers), impersonates a robot, acts in a fake porno, or says, "well, you know, there are times when you have to find a way to dispose of kittens", it's hard to see them as a stuffed-shirt beltway insider. To go on Colbert's show and get him to make you look like an idiot is almost a statement of disdain for the polls.
Of course, there are times when I think it has gone the other way. Lynn Westmoreland is a good example. Of course, that was his own damn fault. What kind of idiot introduces a bill on the Ten Commandments and can only name four of them (Colbert edited it down to three)?