Saturday, December 13, 2008

Where's Jimmy?

Man behind curtain is wizard of Rod, Rahm

Just when you think you've met the whole cast, another character is introduced. And what a character! JC

Secretary of commerce announcement

President-elect Barack Obama's chief of staff Rahm Emanuel (2nd from left) listens as Obama introduces New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson as his nominee for Secretary of Commerce at a press conference at the Hilton Chicago. (Tribune photo by Nancy Stone / December 3, 2008)

When it comes to being the guy behind the guy, there is no one more conspicuous than Rahm Emanuel.

As chief of staff for President-elect Barack Obama, he's usually at Obama's news conferences, standing off to the side, glowering like some fiercely loyal mini-me.

But Emanuel wasn't there Thursday when Obama faced reporters to answer questions about federal charges against Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich (D-Dead Meat), accused of trying to sell Obama's Senate seat to the highest bidder.

"I have never spoken to the governor on this subject," Obama said. "I am confident that no representatives of mine would have any part of any deals related to this."

Wow. No staffers tried to make a deal for his Senate seat?

"I've asked my team to gather the facts of any contacts with the governor's office about this vacant seat, so that we can share them with you over the next few days," Obama said.

He could have just asked Emanuel, but he wasn't there, and reporters kept wondering, "Where's Rahm? Where's Rahm?" What they should have been asking is, "Where's Jimmy?"

As in state Sen. James DeLeo (D-How You Doin?)

DeLeo is an extremely powerful politician. You know this because he's hardly ever quoted in newspaper stories.

Emanuel and DeLeo have a relationship. Emanuel is the congressman from the 5th Congressional District, where DeLeo is the Democratic state central committeeman. What hasn't been reported on much is that Emanuel has not yet resigned from the House. And if you want to play politics in Jimmy's sandbox, you need his OK.

DeLeo is also considered by some to be the real governor of Illinois. Blagojevich is the nutty guy who makes the speeches and gets the federal slap. They're so close that if Jimmy suddenly stopped walking, Rod would chip his teeth on the back of Jimmy's head.

So how close are Rahm and Jimmy? We're about to find out. JC,0,723256.column

© Janet Crain

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