Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel claims that his brother Rahm–then-chief of staff at the White House, now mayor of Chicago–told him to “Shut the f— up!” when he raised the topic of tort reform during internal administration debates on Obamacare. Dr. Emanuel, who became infamous for his advocacy of “death panels”–boards that would have the power to rule out treatments as a mechanism of cost control–made the claim in a new book, Reinventing American Health Care, in which he reprises his role in the shaping of the controversial new law.
The news that Rahm Emanuel used profanity will surprise no one. It has been a hallmark of his administrative style, from Capitol Hill to City Hall, and has frequently earned the ire of critics. On one occasion, he had to apologize after using the word “retarded” to rebuke progressive groups who wanted to run ads against Democrats who opposed a public option in Obamacare, and news of his choice of words was leaked to the New York Times. What is surprising is that Rahm Emanuel would treat his own brother no differently.
Also surprising is that Dr. Emanuel seems to eager to take credit for Obamacare at the very moment it has been exposed as a deeply unpopular policy failure. Like a cartoon villain, Dr. Emanuel has emerged on Sunday talk shows to defend the policy’s worst elements, battling its critics and making inevitably false predictions about its success. Indeed, in a recent op-ed in the Wall Street Journal, Dr. Emanuel acknowledged that Obamacare was imperfect, but maintained that it showed “sound policy can trump politics when politicians show leadership.”