Rahm Emanuel’s nomination for ambassadorship to Japan was sent to the Senate on Monday, sparking frustration among progressives who have been advocating for his nomination to be rejected.
“You can value Black life, or you can confirm Rahm Emanuel to an ambassadorship. Pick one,” wrote Rep. Jamaal Bowman (D-New York) on Twitter.
“The Senate should send it back,” wrote Rep. Mondaire Jones (D-New York).
Progressives have been fierce in their opposition to the former Chicago mayor, White House chief of staff and representative. Emanuel is most infamous for covering up the police-perpetrated murder of Laquan McDonald in 2014. McDonald, a Black 17-year-old, was shot by a police officer 16 times. Emanuel delayed releasing footage of the murder, which happened just ahead of a contested re-election campaign for the then-mayor.
Despite his record, President Joe Biden was considering Emanuel for a cabinet position last year, and now has nominated him to an ambassadorship position, much to progressives’ chagrin.
“Rahm Emanuel should be disqualified from any public office for covering up the murder of Laquan McDonald. The Senate needs to do the right thing and block his nomination,” tweeted Rep. Cori Bush (D-Missouri) Monday.
On Tuesday, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-New York) joined the pushback, saying “This continues to be one of the most bizarre campaigns / uses of energy in Washington. Once again, Senate should vote NO on confirming Rahm Emanuel.”
Ocasio-Cortez shared an article from Rolling Stone asserting that Emanuel shouldn’t be in any position of power within the government. Not only did Emanuel help cover up the murder of McDonald, wrote Ryan Bort, but he also oversaw the closing of half of the mental health clinics in the city and tried to sabotage Chicago teachers who were striking for better work conditions.
“Biden’s decision to nominate Emanuel to serve as the ambassador to Japan puts Senate Democrats in the uncomfortable position of deciding whether to defy Biden or vote for Emanuel,” wrote Bort. “One extremely easy way Biden could have avoided what will be a highly scrutinized nomination process for a typically uncontroversial diplomatic appointment would have been to simply refrain from trying to make a high-profile ambassador out of a controversy-ridden former mayor who covered up the murder of a 17-year-old child.”
Progressives have been criticizing Biden for nominating Emanuel since the pick was announced in August. Earlier this month, Ocasio-Cortez put out a statement saying that Emanuel’s alleged coverup “alone should be flatly disqualifying for any position of public trust, let alone representing the United States as an ambassador.”
Aside from the alleged coverup, Emanuel oversaw a number of policies as mayor and White House chief of staff that have garnered criticism from progressives. As Truthout’s Kelly Hayes wrote in 2018, Emanuel’s neoliberalism perpetuated the financial instability and privatization of public services in Chicago, leading to crises of violence, particularly police violence — ultimately creating “two Chicagos, one for the haves and one for the have-nots.”
Earlier this year, Truthout’s Will Pitt pointed out that Emanuel also has an “abysmal” record in the White House and House of Representatives, staunchly supporting efforts like wars in Iraq and Iran, earning a reputation as a warmonger. “And Biden is sending this person to be our ambassador to Japan,” Pitt wrote. “This appointment puts Emanuel front and center to one of the most perilous diplomatic and military situations on Earth.”