Chicago Mayor and former White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel spoke out against a new book that claims he and first lady Michelle Obama butted heads throughout Emanuel's time in Washington working for her husband.
Emanuel told the Chicago Sun-Times that he “has a great relationship with the president and the fist lady,” adding that he had just talked to President Barack Obama yesterday.
“I know what I know which is the truth. And I’m very proud to have worked for the president and the first lady, and Amy and I are very proud to call them friends,” Emanuel said.
The book in question, “The Obamas” by Jodi Kantor, calls Emanuel and Michelle Obama’s relationship “distant and awkward,” saying they had “almost no bond." Kantor details constant clashes between the two over everything from who should get to attend staff meetings to whether immigration reform should be a focus of the Obama administration.
“[Michelle Obama] had been skeptical of [Emanuel] when he was selected, and now he returned the favor; he was uneasy about first ladies in general, several aides close to him said, based on clashes with Hillary Clinton in the 1990s that became so severe that she had tried to fire him from her husband’s administration,” Kantor writes.
She adds, “Now Emanuel was chief of staff, a position that almost never included an easy relationship with the first lady. They were the president’s two spouses, in a sense, one public and official and one private and informal.”
According to Kantor, one of the most notable disagreements came when Emanuel wanted President Obama to scale back his health care reform ambitions. However, the first lady was adamant her husband continue his efforts, believing it was important that he fulfill "his mission."
"Barack Obama had made a choice in the contest of the worldviews that surrounded him, between his chief of staff's point of view and his wife's," Kantor writes. "His decision to pursue the health care overhaul later seemed to mark the beginning of the end of Emanuel's tenure in the White House."
Emanuel left the Obama administration in September of 2010 in order to run for Mayor of Chicago. He was elected in February of last year.
J-Connection: Born in Chicago, Rahm Emanuel is Jewish. His father was born in Jerusalem, and his name, Rahm, means "high" or "lofty" in Hebrew. Speaking about Judaism, Emanuel said, "I am proud of my heritage and treasure the values it has taught me."