"You know what our party thinks? 'We're good people with good ideas. That's enough, isn't it?' Being tough enough, mean enough, and vicious enough is just not what they want." Well, tough, mean, and vicious isn't just for Karl Rove anymore. In the 2006 midterm elections, the Democratic party decisively ended 12 years of electoral humiliation by seizing back Congress and putting an end to Republican rule.
The Thumpin' is the story of that historic victory, and the one man at the center on whom everything hinged: Congressman Rahm Emanuel, head of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC).
Chicago Tribune reporter Naftali Bendavid had exclusive access to Emanuel for a year and a half and ended up with the story of a lifetime, the thrilling blow-by-blow of how Emanuel remade the Democratic party in his own image, threw away the old playbook, tore up the litmus test, broke every piety about fair play, and went for the jugular to face down all-too-familiar losses in favor of a ground-shifting triumph. The new Democratic-majority Congress is truly the house that Rahm built.
When Emanuel took the job running the DCCC almost two years ago, no one believed victory was within the Democrats' grasp. The Republicans had seized control of the House in 1994 during the Clinton administration and gerrymandered GOP-leaning districts to create a merciless political map. But in 2005 the popularity of the war was declining, and the president's poll numbers were not good. And in Emanuel, the Democrats finally had a killer, a ruthless closer like Karl Rove or Lee Atwater, on their side.
The Thumpin' takes us inside the key races and the national strategy-making that moved the Democrats from forecasted gains of three seats in 2005 to a sweeping gain of 28 seats when the votes were finally counted. It is a portrait in power of a brutally effective taskmaster and the tolling of a new era in the way elections will be fought ever after.
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