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Welcome Rahm and Carol back to government

Those aghast at the prospect of Rahm Emanuel and Carol Moseley Braun joining Joe Biden’s cabinet just aren’t looking at it properly.

Rahm Emanuel (left) and Carol Moseley Braun (right) at a 2011 mayoral debate. Others participating included Gery Chico (center).
Rahm Emanuel (left) and Carol Moseley Braun (right) at a 2011 mayoral debate. Others participating included Gery Chico (center).
Getty Images

Though president-elect Joe Biden is staffing his cabinet with top-notch experts, a note of alarm has popped up. Readers are tugging my sleeve: Do I know that Carol Moseley Braun is being considered for secretary of the interior? Do I know that Rahm Emanuel is in the running for secretary of transportation?

Yes and yes. But remember: Their names are being floated by themselves. Rahm Emanuel is a Nijinsky of self-promotion; leaping, twirling, shape-shifting ambition in human form. White House advisor. Congressman. Mayor. Be honest: If you saw a TV news report on the Vatican, and spied, tucked behind Pope Francis, Rahm Emanuel in red robes and a skullcap, leaning over, murmuring a few velvety words into the pontiff’s ear, would you be surprised? I sure wouldn’t. He’s that kind of guy.

And Carol Moseley Braun she’s ... well ... she’s just sad, isn’t she? Having been elected the first African American female in the United States Senate, she immediately punted that job by canoodling with a dictator’s son and neglecting such essential duties as showing up for work.

And what was her job after that? Ambassador to New Zealand. Is there an employment that reeks of pity mingled with let’s-ship-this-person-to-the-other-side-of-the-globe more than ambassador to New Zealand? Wellington is 8,750 miles from Washington. A 30-hour flight. She found her way back, dabbling in several stillborn businesses. A pecan farm. Some kind of tea, which I had the chance to try: both bitter and weak. That’s why I don’t write fiction.

Ready for a shock? I’m fine with both getting Cabinet positions.

Rahm Emanuel will be an excellent secretary of transportation. I made a point to be at the 2018 press conference announcing Elon Musk would dig a high speed rail line to O’Hare airport. “Rahm’s rich folks underground railroad” one wag called it — OK, that was me.

The project was such a patent absurdity that any thinking person knew it would never occur. But Rahm really sold the idea. As secretary of transportation he’ll have to get behind an endless train of daft projects that go nowhere — monorails and pedways and sub-orbital shuttles — and he’ll do it with the pure conviction of the lifelong huckster.

Plus — and I’m sincere here — his being complicit in covering up the murder of Laquan McDonald isn’t the disqualification Twitter liberals seem to believe it is. I think it’s a good thing. Not good that he did it. But good now. Knowing Rahm paid $5 million to hush up the crime will give the secretary of transportation a complexity the office doesn’t otherwise hold. Just a glimpse of Rahm cutting the ribbon at a bus stop in Toledo will be a clank of the chain of racist shame that trails after him like money boxes behind Marley’s Ghost. We want Rahm as an albatross rotting around our civic necks. It’ll help keep people woke.

And Carol? I saw her being held up not too long ago as an Admirable Historical Black Figure, like a paper mache deity lofted on the shoulders of joyous celebrants at some religious festival, and my distaste for her just melted. Yes, she is a bad person — when I pointed out that she wasn’t going to be elected mayor in 2011, she went on television and called me all sorts of names, which, at least in my opinion, only made her look small and mean while giving me a shimmer of actual significance I don’t actually deserve.

But just because she’s petty doesn’t mean we have to be. Incompetent people need love too, or at least employment. So welcome her as secretary of the interior, the 2020 equivalent of ambassador to New Zealand. I look forward to glimpsing her on the National Park Service twitter feed, standing in a marsh in Oregon, dedicating the new Federal Rainwater Catchment Area. Reflecting that, F. Scott Fitzgerald be damned, there are second acts in American lives, and Carol is living proof that no one can make such an utter hash of everything she touches that forgiveness can’t occur, even if you don’t perceive, never mind repent, your failings.

The world can be a kind place. I hope you’ll join me in wishing both Rahm and Carol best of luck as they lunge toward these latest prizes, practically within their grasp.