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Cenk Uygur: "On the substance, Jane Hamsher and Grover Norquist are right." He illustrates why a left-right alliance is necessary to get the attention of the Obama Administration, and how this alliance affects Rahm Emanuel on a very personal level. "They do make very legitimate points, and Rahm has to answer them."

Video, and transcript below the fold.


I have been advocating — and I wrote a blog post about it last night, you can see it on the website, the — that we’ve got to get aggressive, and if we need to we’ve got to punch some Democrats in the face.Okay, proverbially, for the love of god.

Because if you don’t, all they’re going to do is respond to right wing pressure, right wing pressure, they’re never going to respond to left wing pressure. Obama will move to the center of what he believes to be his current field, and that is Washington DC, and you’ll never get their attention, and you’ll never get your way policy-wise. So somebody’s got to throw some punches.

In steps Jane Hamsher, with a two-by-four. And she just clocked Rahm Emanuel across the head.

Now how did she do that? She operates a liberal blog, firedoglake. So how does she go after a guy as powerful as Rahm Emanuel?

Well here’s the thing. She’s been in the press a lot lately, for not caving in on health care, and for pushing for real reform, and for pushing for the public option, etc., so she’s got a lot of buzz now.

She went over and got Grover Norquist, who is one of the biggest right wingers in the country — we’ve had him on the program here, he’s the President of Americans for Tax Reform– and they did a joint letter against Rahm Emanuel.

Now wait a minute. You see, this gets everybody’s attention. And everybody’s talking about it online today, and I’m sure in all the media. Oh, it’s actual bipartisan work here by the left wing and the right wing to say Rahm Emanuel’s doing something wrong.

So what’s it on? Well, it turns out he was on the board of Freddie Mac back during 2000 and 2001. They claim he did some things on that board that need to be investigated. And in fact, that an investigator was investigating it — Inspector General Ed Kelley — and he was stripped of his authority by the Obama Administration’s Justice Department.

And that the Justice Department used a bill, or a loophole in a bill, passed by: Rahm Emanuel, before he left congress. And that the statute of limitations is going to run out in 2010 and 2011 for investigating what Rahm Emanuel was doing on that board and what the rest of the board was doing at Freddie Mac.

In fact, right now they’re negotiating to double the commitments to Fannie and Freddie for a total of $800 billion by December 31 and Jane Hamsher and Grover Norquist are saying we shouldn’t let them have that money, it’s another back door TARP and they’re going to funnel that money to toxic assets, and we need to know what they did on that board in the first place, and why they got rid of that inspector general.

Since they got rid of the Inspector General, no one has replaced them. And this is an enormous part of our economy, and Fannie and Freddie have six trillion dollars in mortgages without any oversight. And how much of this is Rahm Emanuel responsible for?

Now those are heavy questions. And that’s going to get everybody’s attention in Washington. So if Rahm Emanuel thought he could ignore the left, which is what he smugly told the WSJ just about a week ago, saying "heh heh, there’s nothing to be concerned about on the left," well you just got a two-by-four across the head. Are you concerned now, Rahm? Did Jane catch your attention, about how maybe you need to be investigated and how you squelched that investigation?

My guess is, all of a sudden, you’re not so smug any more.

Okay, look. That’s what you gotta do. First of all, you have to do it because it’s true. Wait a minute, what happened in 2000-2001, I don’t give a damn if Rahm Emanuel is a Democrat or a Republican. And why did you get rid of the Inspector General? Maybe you’ve got a good reason for it. But they need to tell us.

And funneling this $800 billion, before the end of the year, to these guys who screwed up before? These things, Fannie and Freddie, are in a lot of ways area disaster. They’re funneling the toxic assets to there — what the banks can’t get rid of, the mortgages etc they’re funneling all to there.

No, I need to know exactly what’s happening there before we funnel another eight hundred billion dollars there. So on the substance, Jane Hamsher and Grover Norquist are right. And that’s a second reason why this letter is so important.

Because look. On the right wing, we could potentially have allies against Wall Street corruption. And against using taxpayer money for things we did not agree to, whether that’s going after the Fed or Ben Bernanke or Tim Geithner or in this case Rahm Emanuel. On the substance, they’re right.

Now we have to look into this issue more — I’m not saying Rahm Emanuel is guilty. That’s why they were investigating it before it got shut down. All right? So you need to reopen that investigation.

Now that’s going to affect Rahm Emanuel on a very, very personal level. So now he knows maybe I shouldn’t be so dismissive of the left, because if they join forces with the right people, they can cause me a lot of trouble.

That’s Politics 101.

Now I wouldn’t be in favor of it if they didn’t make legitimate points. But they do make legitimate points. And those are good questions. Rahm has to answer them. But on a political level, this is the kind of thing you’ve gotta do to say "you know what, you can’t only appease the right wing. I have to make sure that I appease the right wing and the left wing." Especially because the left wing elected you, they’re the ones who gave you the votes.

So if it wiped the smug smile off of Rahm Emanuel’s face, and his dismissive attitude about all the people who voted for Barack Obama, well then it’s a great step in the right direction.

And don’t think it doesn’t have consequences — Jane Hamsher is catching massive heat from the left for doing this. How dare you join up with a right winger, how dare you damage Democrats politically.

Listen. If you don’t have the stones to go after the Democrats, they’re never going to listen to you. They don’t listen to reason, they listen to power. So Jane’s approach is definitely the right approach. As long as she’s got her ducks in order, and she’s not going with nonsense, she’s going with real concerns, that’s definitely the way to go.

Okay, that’s hard ball. And if you’re not willing to play it, you’re going to lose on every policy issue and on every political issue.


Updated: Edited to reflect transcript.

Originally posted to TeddySanFran on Fri Dec 25, 2009 at 12:06 PM PST.

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