Monday, November 10, 2008
Barack Obama's roast of Rahm Emanuel in 2005 with transcript
Well thank you so much for that introduction. First of all, let me say how glad I am to be here with David and Susan. David, as many of you know, was media director for my campaign and did an outstanding job, but frankly, it was Susan who really ended up touching my heart because she is just as wonderful a person as everyone says up here. You know after the difficult weeks we've had as a country, it’s great that we can come together to do something great for a good cause like curing epilepsy, it’s also great that we can come together to do something that makes everyone feel better, which is to insult Rahm Emanuel.
My colleagues Hillary Clinton and Chris Dodd have known Rahm for years and despite that fact they decided to come anyway. Bill Saphire, we have not met, but it is wonderful to see you here today; I know you are a master of the English language, which you have used for decades you've used as a stiletto in your columns at the New York Times. I read your Sunday columns religiously. You know, you are such a literate, erudite guy that I wonder why are you hanging around with Rahm Emanuel. There are only so many ways to say, "I'm going to rip your head off." Most of Rahm's vocabulary cannot appear in the Sunday Magazine section, though I think it is wonderful though that you are here, along with Congressman Tom Cole. Other Republicans were invited to the roast this evening, but they said they would come only if there was a real fire.
But the truth is I admire Rahm Emanuel greatly, he is a wonderful politician, his skills and instincts are extraordinary, I mean think about it, can you imagine someone with a weird name like Rahm Emanuel getting elected to Congress from Illinois? It's astonishing.
You know its fashionable in politics in politics these days to profess our faith. The truth is Rahm is very serious about it, he keeps the Sabbath, he goes to synagogue. He doesn’t just talk about the Ten Commandments, he lives them.... with some modifications. The one, "Thou shall not kill," unless he's a target. "Thou shall not covet," unless absolutely necessary. Isn't ironic though that every year Jews celebrate Passover, recalling the day that the angel of death passed over their homes in ancient Egypt, today, Republicans celebrate when Rahm passes over their district.
All of this causes people to ask me, is there tension, within the Illinois delegation? With Denny Hastert and Rahm, after all Rahm is trying to take the job away from Speaker Hastert. And I have to insist in fact that there is no tension, though I think our meetings are the only delegation that has to have an official taster.
You do get a lot of gut coming from Chicago. We already heard it here tonight, you heard some of the cracks about ethics in Chicago. The amazing thing though about Rahm is that in all his years as Bill Clinton’s campaign finance director, as White House aide, politics swirling around him, he has never been subpoened by Congress or called before a grand jury.
Did I mention he has the same attorney as Bob Novak?
But the truth is when you really get to know Rahm, he does have a softer side, Amy will attest to this; very few people know, I think, know prior to this evening that he studied Ballet for a few years. In fact, he was the first to adopt Machiavelli’s the prince for dance. It was an intriguing piece, as you can imagine, there were a lot of kicks below the waist.
But as I think Rahm will tell you, ballet is actually great training for politics: he learned to leap, he learned to spin, he learned to splay his feet to the left and to the right so nobody knows which direction he’s heading in.
It hasn't been easy for Rahm though as a young man he had a serious accident. I think, as many of you were aware of this, he was working at a deli, accident with a meat slicing machine, he lost part of his middle finger, and as a result of this, this rendered him practically mute.
Has he ever flashed that little stubby thing at you? That’s appalling.
Just recently, the polls came out, Democrats are doing better, Rahm turned around and gave his colleagues the high 4 and a half.
For those of you who don't know, Rahm came from a family where failure is not an option. I used to think that Rahm was slightly abrasive because he’s short and sort of funny looking. Then I met his brother Ari who is tall and good looking and also abrasive and annoying.
His brother Ezekiel is here tonight, who is also one of America’s most respect medical ethicists. This does not happen by accident, people. Their parents Ben and Marsha drove them extraordinarily hard. So much so that Rahm has determined not to put the same kind of pressure on their children, who are 7, 5 and 3. Unfortunately, they couldn’t come here tonight, they are studying for their SATs.
Some of you may also know that Rahm’s brother Ari is a model for the lead character, on the big hit on HBO, Entourage. What some of you might not know that Rahm himself is also an inspiration for that other HBO character, Tony Soprano.
Rahm is a little intense, he is strong, he is aggressive, he is emotional, he is moody and the Republicans have finally figured out one way to control him: they are going to start steroid testing members.
What they are going to find out though that its all natural. Rahm is one of a kind, we love him dearly, although we are all glad to say, and I will say what everyone in this room is thinking, which is: thank G-d he is one of a kind.