My Encounter With Rahm

Thom Lambert —  10 November 2008

The business section of yesterday’s New York Times included advice to President-elect Obama from a number of econ-types. Greg Mankiw, for example, exhorted Obama to heed the advice of his (quite capable) economic advisers and, in essence, govern from the center. I would concur.

Accordingly, I was pleased to see Obama name Rep. Rahm Emanuel as his Chief of Staff. Lots of my conservative friends were immediately critical of the choice. “Rahmbo,” as he is known, is famous for his take-no-prisoners approach (as is his brother, Ari Emanuel, the real-world inspiration for the best character on T.V. these days, Entourage’s Ari Gold). I, though, can’t get out of my head my first meeting with Rahm.

My Chicago neighbor and good friend, David Boul, is the treasurer of Rahm’s campaign. When Rahm first ran for Congress in Chicago, David hosted a meet-and-greet for about thirty of our neighbors. Most of the residents of our neighborhood are liberal Democrats (not the “Blue Dog” variety). I was undoubtedly the only libertarian-type at the gathering.

When Rahm had finished his spiel, one of the neighbors asked him which of his Clinton administration accomplishments he was most proud of. His answer, welfare reform, was decidedly not the answer most members of the audience wanted to hear. Rahm went on to explain, though, why the reform made sense, and I believe he moved some of my neighbors to the center.

Perhaps I’ve just caught a bit of the ubiquitous Hope Bug, but I believe Rahm has the skills to do the same thing to the President-elect, whom I genuinely want to succeed. Let’s hope.

Thom Lambert


I am a law professor at the University of Missouri Law School. I teach antitrust law, business organizations, and contracts. My scholarship focuses on regulatory theory, with a particular emphasis on antitrust.

2 responses to My Encounter With Rahm


    Thought provoking. But best character on t.v.? What about Jim Halpert of The Office fame? Or even Michael Scott?


    He is also the only Democrat to propose vouchers for health care.

    “……Democrats who distrust the uncertainty of the private insurance market should appreciate that this plan creates a group market and uses economies of scale to provide comprehensive benefits. Yet the plan’s reliance on a capped voucher should appeal to Republicans as well–honoring their strong preference for personal choice and market incentives. “(Chicago Tribune 1-20-04)

    Of course he never mentioned it again after that one time…. If it is good for heaalth care, why not education? Probably scared the hell out of most Democrats.