Mr. Emanuel Goes to Washington, Part II
Putting it in showbiz cliche terms, Rahm Emanuel left Washington a youngster but he's coming back a star.
This week the former House Democratic operative and Bill Clinton aide returns to start preparing to take his place in Congress, representing Illinois's 5th District on Chicago's North Side. He takes over from Rod Blagojevich, the Democratic governor-elect.
"I got 67 percent of the vote in the same district where last time Al Gore got 60 percent -- that's all you need to know," said the 42-year-old Emanuel, whose bravado verging on arrogance made him a refreshingly colorful character in Washington: Who can forget the time he sent a political antagonist a rotting fish? "Look, running for office is different from anything I've done before. First of all, it's your voice, and you have to go around asking people to support you and give them a reason. As the candidate, you don't get the luxury of being a Monday-morning quarterback."
In Washington, as Emanuel knows, it's the little things that count, and he had a vivid demonstration of that truth last week. The morning after the election, Michigan Rep. John Dingell, the fearsome dean of the House Democrats, called to congratulate Emanuel on his landslide victory over Republican Mark Augusti. "I said, 'Thank you very much, Congressman Dingell,' " Emanuel told us. "And he said, 'Rahm, from now on it's "John." ' And I said, 'Okay, but give me a little time to get used to it.' "
Don't worry. He will.
Harris's Country Without Borders
* Grammy-winning singer-songwriter Emmylou Harris speaks in a soft voice. "I'm not a troublemaker," the 55-year-old Harris told us yesterday from Nashville as she got ready to hop the tour bus to Washington, along with her 81-year-old mother, Eugenia, to receive the Patrick J. Leahy Humanitarian Award from the Vietnam Veterans of America Foundation. "I did get soundly booed at a concert in Norfolk, Va. -- for mentioning that the People for Ethical Treatment of Animals had set up a booth -- and I felt very empowered. Maybe I need to step it up."
Harris, who is picking up the award for her years of activism against land mines, a cause also dear to Democratic Sen. Leahy, will be joined tonight at the Birchmere by old friends such as Mary Chapin Carpenter, Rodney Crowell and Steve Earle, whose recent tune about "American Taliban" John Walker Lindh caused quite a stir. "It's a really good song," said Harris. "Basically, it's taking the point of view of someone, but it's not sympathetic to Lindh. It's just saying we need to know him, even if he's a bit of an aberration."
Harris, who grew up in a military family, said she's worried about the possibility of war with Iraq, though she was heartened that President Bush has sought the support of the United Nations. "I don't know what all the arguments are for going into Iraq," she said. "But I do know that land mines basically kill civilians. We ban weapons like poison gas, so we should ban land mines, too."
THIS JUST IN ...
* Judging by the taped greeting, things were apparently pretty rough yesterday in the Capitol Hill office of Rep. Todd Akin (R-Mo.), even though it was shut down for the federal holiday. Those who dialed heard the voice of a male staffer advising: "You've reached the office of Congressman Todd Akin. We are closed for the veget . . . uh . . . you've reached the office of Congulsh . . . jeez!" Finally, on the third try, the staffer successfully advised callers that Akin's office was closed for Veterans Day.
* Former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani and former General Electric CEO Jack Welch are sharing the bill tomorrow afternoon at the 2002 Fortune Global Forum on the new realities of corporate America at Washington's Ritz-Carlton Hotel. What hot topic could these two be discussing -- "Divorce on $1 Million a Day"? Alas, after AOL Time Warner's Steve Case introduces them, Fortune magazine Editorial Director Geoffrey Colvin will be drawing them out on leadership.
* Washington society has been swooning over folk-rock legend Donovan Leitch, who has been staying for the past week at sculptor John Dreyfuss's 18th-century Georgetown mansion, Halcyon House. At a party Friday to celebrate photographer Barry Feinstein's show at Govinda Gallery -- which features a portrait of Donovan in his prime -- the 56-year-old Scotsman sang "Mellow Yellow" and other hit tunes from the 1960s.