Is Rahm Emanuel to Barack Obama what Dick Cheney was to George W. Bush?

The two have a lot more in common than you'd think.

By + More

By Mary Kate Cary, Thomas Jefferson Street blog

They may not look alike, but Rahm Emanuel and Dick Cheney have a lot in common. 

Both were born in the Midwest (Emanuel in Chicago and Cheney in Lincoln, Neb.). Both are one of three children. (One of Emanuel's brothers is the inspiration for attack-dog super-agent Ari Gold on HBO's Entourage; Cheney's brother is the inspiration for the character Johnny Drama on the same show. Just kidding.) Both had interesting pursuits before they went into politics (Emanuel won a scholarship to the Joffrey Ballet but turned it down to attend Sarah Lawrence College; Cheney dropped out of Yale and worked as a lineman for the county before attending the University of Wyoming). Both have master's degrees. Both were elected to Congress and quickly rose to leadership positions (Emanuel as head of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, Cheney as House Republican Whip). And both became White House chief of staff at relatively young ages.

And, it seems, both seem to have a knack for rubbing their political opponents the wrong way. As he was leaving office, Vice President Cheney told Fox News's Chris Wallace that he still has no regrets about the 2004 incident in which he told Sen. Pat Leahy to "go (bleep) yourself" after Leahy lambasted him about Halliburton on the Senate floor. And it's now Washington legend—perhaps apocryphal—that Rahm Emanuel sent a 2½-pound rotten fish to a pollster who had displeased him. Cheney's abrasiveness isn't surprising coming from a former halfback from the county high school, but the theory goes that Emanuel's aggressiveness stems from his years of ballet lessons—you'd better be tough if you want to survive on the streets of Chicago as a ballet dancer. Sort of like Johnny Cash singing to the inmates about "A Boy Named Sue."

The Daily Beast's John Batchelor quotes a lot of anonymous House Republicans who are already bristling at Emanuel's take-no-prisoners style. (There were plenty of House Democrats who complained about Cheney; unlike the Republicans, they'd do it on the record.) If Emanuel starts spending time in "undisclosed locations," we'll know he has, in fact, become the next Dick Cheney.

And if a 2½-pound rotten fish arrives on my desk, I'll let you know.

  • Read more by Mary Kate Cary.
  • Read more from the Thomas Jefferson Street blog.
  • Read more about Rahm Emanuel.