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Emanuel Brothers: ‘We Used To Be Very Competitive’

Mayor Rahm Emanuel And His Older Brother Discuss Zeke's New Memoir "Brothers Emanuel"
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Jay Levine Jay Levine
Jay Levine is the chief correspondent for CBS 2 Chicago. He joined...
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CHICAGO (CBS) – Rahm Emanuel’s older brother, Zeke, is revealing a side of the mayor most people have never seen before, in an illuminating new book about their family.

CBS 2 Chief Correspondent Jay Levine interviewed Zeke and Rahm Emanuel about the new book, watching the two brothers spar with each other, but quickly come to each other’s defense when challenged.

At one point, Zeke began telling a story about visiting their younger brother, Ari, in Los Angeles last month, and speaking at Ari’s son’s school.

“He couldn’t get four words into it,” Zeke said, his voice rising to the point Rahm interrupted him.

“Remember what we all say at the house: we’re all within four feet of each other, okay? We can hear you,” Rahm said.

“Rahm, I have to raise my voice to make sure you won’t interrupt,” Zeke shot back.

“This is something we’ve been working on since 6, and we’re making a lot of progress there. Literally, since the age of 6, ‘we’re all within four feet, we can all hear you,’” Rahm said.

When the three Emanuel brothers shared a room growing up with their parents in Uptown in the 1960s, Zeke – a straight-A student – was the most outspoken; Rahm was a quiet underachiever; and Ari was charming and athletic.

They were different in many ways, but similar in others.

“We used to be very competitive,” Zeke said.

“Our spouses would say that when we get together, we revert to 16, 15 and 14; and then it takes us two days to get back to our age,” Rahm said. “I wouldn’t say we’re competitive; no, we’re not competitive with each other. We’re very supportive of each other. The only people that can criticize Zeke are Ari and I; and the only people that can criticize me are Zeke and Ari in that sense. On the other hand, you cannot take a shot at Zeke, otherwise you get Ari and me with it.”

Zeke Emanuel wrote Brothers Emanuel: A Memoir of an American Family around the time Rahm was running for mayor. He was asked which of the two created more buzz within the family.

“His running for mayor was exciting, my writing the book everyone was pissed at me about,” Zeke said.

“Everybody was angry at him about it,” Rahm said, as the two brothers grinned. “Ari and I’s joke is that, Ari’s obviously done pretty well as agent – you know, small business operator – I was running for mayor, and then Zeke is just a doctor, so he’s decided to make money off his two brothers.”

At one point during the interview, Levine quoted from the book about each brother’s “achievement leading to a new, higher goal, which required even more effort,” to question the mayor’s repeated denial that his ultimate goal is running for president.

Given the pattern described in Zeke’s book, it probably seems logical for Rahm Emanuel to say he’s not running for president, but then change his mind later, after succeeding at what he’s doing now.

“Oh no, I think Rahm wants to be a great mayor of Chicago, and make sure this city is a great city,” Zeke said. “Rahm loves this city desperately, thinks this is the greatest city there is, and as we told you he didn’t want to move to Washington to be chief of staff. He is not enamored of Washington. He couldn’t get back to Chicago fast enough.”

For his part, the mayor said, “I’ve spent eight years in the White House. I’m not going back.

“I don’t even understand that. You would assume that I’ll be done? I have a lot to do. There’s a lot to do here in the city of Chicago, which is what’s exciting about it,” he added.

As you see, just as it was 40 years ago in Uptown, once again Zeke had his brother’s back.

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