Saturday, November 8, 2008

The Takeover

During halftime of the Alabama-LSU game, I fortuitously happened to flip to C-SPAN and catch about 20 minutes from a 2005 charity roast of then-U.S. Rep. Rahm Emanuel.

It was a revealing look into the building of a political movement. If you get the chance, definitely check it out.

The roast was a fundraiser for the Citizens United for Research in Epilepsy (CURE), which was founded by David Axelrod. (Axelrod's daughter suffers from developmental disabilities associated with chronic epileptic seizures).

Hillary Clinton was the final roaster before Emanuel came to the stage for his turn at the mic. Barack Obama had what I think were surprisingly bad seats for the festivities. Paul Begala was the M.C. Joe Biden, Chris Dodd and former GOP House Majority Leader Tom DeLay were also in the house. There were probably dozens of other political heavyweights that I simply couldn't recognize.

As the closer, HRC made some prescient remarks about the role Emanuel would take in the pivotal elections of '06. She was also funnier than I can ever remember her being. She looked, dare we say, presidential.

Later, Emanuel started out with a few cracks about his good friend and neighbor, Barack. "Thank you for being here with us mere mortals tonight," he said.

Reflecting on that roast, it's stunning to think about what's happened since that night.

Emanuel helped the Democrats fulfill their promise of taking back Capitol Hill in 2006. DeLay was forced to resign his seat under pressure and threat of trial over violations of campaign finance laws. Clinton was the frontrunner to lead the Democratic takeover of the White House. And then she wasn't.

What happened is, seemingly, every other Democrat of note at the roast eventually coalesced in support of the improbable presidential campaign of that junior senator from Illinois who had bad seats.

Who would've thunk it?

UPDATE: It's interesting to learn that Axelrod's daughter was what Sarah Palin would likely call a special-needs child. I wouldn't have known this, of course, unless I was randomly channel-surfing during halftime of a football game. I think it's safe to say that, even with Palin back home in Wasilla, the White House will still be occupied by people who care about special-needs children. All children, in fact.

UPDATE 2: That Alabama game was just, wow. It seems like all November games in Baton Rouge go into OT. I still think the Crimson Tide will lose to Florida in the SEC title game, though. Maybe Penn State's loss today clears the way for that Florida-USC BCS championship game that I want to see. I'd be ok with Texas-Florida, too, though that seems like a bad matchup for the Longhorns.

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