Rahm is a weasel, but he's a very effective surrogate for the president, as he showed on This Week today. Notice how deftly he gets in that one-two punch on Darrell Issa over the Libya controversy:
Now, I don't believe in attacking presidents over this kind of incident. These situations are extraordinarily complex and hard calls to make. But I'll just note here as a matter of interest that no one is answering that question. And that's the sort of non-response that makes some voters uneasy.
EMANUEL: Yes, but George, first of all, I have been fortunate in my life to work on both sides of Pennsylvania Avenue, and the president of the United States has ordered an investigation of what happened, who's responsible, and bring them to justice, just like he did Osama bin Laden, Awlaki and the leadership of al Qaeda. That's what you have to do in the Oval Office.
Now, I have also worked in Congress where you have an oversight responsibility. And with that oversight responsibility comes responsibility. And what Darrell Issa did by releasing names in that entire document of individuals who are working with America, put people at risk in Libya, and people around the world will now know that you're at risk if you cooperate with the United States.
That office, that chairmanship of that committee comes with responsibility. And you can't act reckless with it.
Now, we have a foreign policy issue. It is going to be handled. And people that did this will be brought to justice. And how it happened will be investigated so we can never see it again. But the idea that people from A, day one, have been trying to politicize this event in my view is absolutely reckless.
EMANUEL: This is a time for the United States to come together, figure out what happened, which is what the commander in chief has to do, found out who did it, which is what the commander in chief has to demand, and then seek justice, which he has done repeatedly. And I would warn again, or at least highlight again, when it came to getting Osama bin Laden, Mitt Romney said that shouldn't be a priority of ours, and the president said absolutely different.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Finally, Mayor, the New York Times is reporting this morning that Iran has agreed in principle to direct talks over their nuclear program. The White House has said there's no deal, though. President Obama first expressed his willingness to have direct talks when you were chief of staff in the White House. Do you believe Iran is ready now for direct talks or is this a stalling policy?
EMANUEL: George, that's a good question. Let me take -- I want to take one step back.
When the president walked into the Oval Office, on the issue of Iran trying to acquire and develop nuclear weapons, the United States was isolated from the rest of the world on Iran. Three and a half years later, the tables have been turned. Iran is isolated from the rest of the world. Now, that was steady, determined, dogged leadership, setting out a course.
We now know for a fact even when some questioned the course, not only have we organized the rest of the world to isolate Iran, we have put in place and the president has put in place, withering, very tough sanctions that are not only having economic impact and crumbling the economic capacity of Iran-- and we have seen the data. The fact that the economy is shrinking and not growing. And it's having a political impact. It's been clear that there's no idea of one-off or one-on-one discussions--
STEPHANOPOULOS: So now is the time for direct talks?
EMANUEL: But -- that's not for me to say and they'll determine that. I don't have all the information. But I do know this, that three and a half years ago, we as a country, the world was criticizing us on Iran. Today, the world is criticizing Iran on its attempt to acquire nuclear weapons. That's a direct change. The tables have been turned. And the result of that is because of the steady leadership and the course the president has done in building a coalition and forcing now a set of sanctions that Europe would never have considered three and a half years ago, to a point that Iran's economy is on its knees.
And I will say this, while you say we're going to turn to foreign policy -- the most important part of that foreign policy debate tomorrow will be, because I think the most important thing we can do as a country on our foreign policy is strengthen our economy here at home. It is our leadership abroad that comes from a strong economy. And the economic argument of who's going to make sure that this country is investing in itself after a decade of fighting wars overseas, I think we'll be sure to bring that peace home, and make sure that America is actually (inaudible).
STEPHANOPOULOS: Mayor Emanuel, thank you very much for your time this morning.