Senate ready to confirm Rahm as ambassador to Japan. Do they think we've forgotten Laquan?
Today is the 7th anniversary of Laquan McDonald's murder.
Rep. Jamaal Bowman, a New York Democrat, told CNN that "it is unconscionable the US Senate is considering Rahm Emanuel's nomination," adding that Emanuel "used the power of his office as mayor of Chicago to cover up the murder of a child" and that the hearing "should not even be happening in the first place."
Like Bowman, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, another New York Democrat, called on the Senate to reject Emanuel's nomination in September, calling it "an embarrassment and betrayal of the values we seek to uphold."
The murder of Laquan McDonald at the hands of Chicago cops took place on October 20, 2014. Now seven years to the day, former Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who covered up the crime, is about to be named Ambassador to Japan.
While mass protests in the streets of Chicago called for justice for Laquan, Rahm was re-elected for a second term as mayor after barely beating now-Congressman Chuy Garcia in a runoff election. It was only then that we found out that Rahm had withheld the dashcam video of the murder until after his reelection. The video clearly showed white cop Jason Van Dyke shooting Laquan, hitting him with two rounds, and then, with his victim lying on the ground, hitting him with 14 more shots.
In 2018, Van Dyke was sentenced to 6 yrs & 9 mths in prison, but likely will be released in Feb. 2022 for good behavior.
Most analysts believe Rahm would have lost the election if the cover-up had been revealed sooner. He most certainly would have lost Chicago's black vote. The reverberations from the McDonald case would eventually force him to not run for a third term, leading to the election of the city’s first Black, gay, woman mayor, Lori Lightfoot.
But aside from having to give up the mayor’s seat, Rahm was never held accountable for his role in the cover-up. Even worse, he apparently has been rewarded. Immediately after departing City Hall, he was hired for $300,000 as an ABC News political talking head.
He’s still an influential force as part of the Clinton faction within the Democratic Party leadership, and now, with Biden in power and pressured to find a place for him, he’s heading to Tokyo, as soon as his nomination as Ambassador to Japan is approved by the Senate.
While many progressive Democrats are protesting Biden’s pick, there are no senators opposing his nomination. And even if Emanuel loses a few Democratic votes either in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee or in the full Senate, he has enough Republicans lined up to replace them.
Do they think we’ve forgotten?
Rahm’s new role: Pushing Cold War in Asia
Rahm’s appointment takes place a time when the Biden administration is bent on igniting a new cold war, including trade war with China. Along with Rahm’s appointment, the senate’s Foreign Relations panel is also taking up the confirmation of R. Nicholas Burns as ambassador to China. Burns is a rabid anti-China cold-war hawk.
While Rahm’s job will mainly involve promoting more U.S./Japanese trade and investment, it will also include trying to push Japan firmly into line as part of a U.S.-led, anti-China economic and military united front in Asia. But his job won’t be easy. He’s bound to meet lots of resistance both in Japan and among other Asian countries.
Japan and China have a long and often contentious history — remember, Japan’s invasion of China in 1936 precipitated World War II and led to the deaths of 3.9 million Chinese. Current tensions have increased in the aftermath of the Japanese government's decision to nationalize the disputed Diaoyus Islands. Then there’s the recent visits by some Japanese politicians to Tokyo’s Yasukuni Shrine, where war criminals are honored among the millions of casualties from World War II, that have inflamed public sentiment in China.
But China is now by far, Japan’s biggest trading partner. China's and Japan's economies are respectively the world's second and third-largest. Despite past conflicts, the two countries have been steadily improving their relationships since Chinese President Xi Jinping and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe met at the G20 Summit two years ago.
Both countries have started to cooperate in numerous areas, including boosting global trade and working together within China’s Belt and Road Initiative.
Rahm is definitely in over his head here.
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