Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Emanuel for mayor? Fat chance!

Somewhere near the District of Columbia, long-time Washington writer Sally Quinn is feeling a touch of glee. For it seems that silly column she wrote a few months ago that said White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel wanted to be mayor of Chicago has a touch of truth to it.

Back then, Quinn wrote in a commentary about Desiree Rogers that implied too many Chicago political people work in the Obama administration that Emanuel was looking for a way out, figuring he’d run for mayor if Richard M. Daley were to decide that he doesn’t want another four years in the 2011 municipal election.

SHE PROBABLY IS the only one pleased. For Emanuel came out this week and said the same thing, using an interview on Charlie Rose’s PBS program to say that “one day” he wants to run for mayor. He made it clear during that interview that he’s not looking to challenge Daley – Emanuel would only run if Daley decides that 22 years in office is enough.

There are those political observers who want to believe that it just might be the case for Daley, who in recent years is getting hit with the same financial struggles that are afflicting municipal officials across the United States.

When combined with the constant instances of corruption and all the other petty aggravation that a mayor has to deal with, they would say that Daley is ready to say, “the heck with it.”

Of course, those people are usually of an ideological bent that doesn’t fully comprehend Chicago or Daley. Either that, or they have never understood how “Dumb-Dumb” Daley ever got elected to begin with. So their talk that Daley is ready to retire reeks of self-interest on their part.

SO I EXPECT Daley to run for another term (extending his time in office beyond that of his father, the late Richard J. Daley, who later this year will be surpassed by his son as longest-serving Chicago mayor), which makes any talk of Emanuel returning to the City Hall scene a moot point.

But what of the idea of “Rahm-bo” returning to Chicago after doing time in the White House? I don’t buy it, mainly because I understand the reality of “up and out.”

That is the phrase used by Chicago political types to refer to local political people who decide to run for a federal government position – usually a seat in Congress. It acknowledges that the federal government technically outranks Chicago city government, while also feeding into the parochial belief that Chicago is the center of the world.

Which means that Emanuel, by not accepting the limits of his political life in the city and desiring something “better” in Washington, is supposed to accept the idea that he no longer belongs here. He is there. What makes Roman Pucinski so unique in Chicago political history is he is one of the few Congressmen who successfully came back to Chicago (to serve several terms as alderman).

HE MAY HAVE to accept that his current job as the man who does the dirty work to make the Obama administration function and achieve all of its high-minded goals is the high point of his career – which has accomplished things that many local political people can only dream about.

It is in that niche that Chicago political observers look to Washington these days and to the large number of Chicagoans working with Obama at the White House and feel a touch of pride. We’d like to think that the successes achieved there reflect well upon our city.

And as for the political failures? We realize that Republican opponents don’t know any better, which is why we have so few GOP-types in Chicago.

The problem is that if Emanuel decides to try to return to Chicago, he’s going to find that all the people who had respect for him and admired him (and even those who detested him, while secretly being pleased he was on their side) will now suddenly detest him and despise him openly.

THE REASON FOR that change of attitude? A lot of local political people who figured that Emanuel got out of the way of their aspirations when he went to Washington will now see him as a threat.

And Emanuel will find out that Chicago political people who think their turf is being threatened can be even more mean and nasty than any of those nitwit Republicans who currently trash his good name in and around Washington, D.C. I'm wondering what kind of reaction he will get on Tuesday when he speaks at the Daley Forum to be held at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

So Emanuel should not be fooled by the polite words offered up by Daley’s press secretary to the Chicago Sun-Times, who said that Emanuel’s mayoral aspirations are a, “laudable aspiration.” If he actually tries to run, we’re going to hear all the political trash talk meant to take him down before he can ever re-establish himself as a Chicagoan.

Rahm will wind up recalling his nasty campaign for Congress in 2002 against former state Rep. (and Chicago Park District attorney) Nancy Kaszak as a pleasant memory between two friends. (Remember the anti-semitic claims that Emanuel was really an Israeli – therefor not a “real” American?)

IF THERE WAS anything I found interesting (and realistic) about Emanuel’s comments, it was his admission that his dream to be Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives was “over.” So much for the talk that Emanuel was privately scheming to take back the Northwest Side congressional seat he used to hold so that he could resurrect that dream.

Giving up on the concept of “House Speaker Rahm Emanuel, D-Ill.” Is a sign that Emanuel has a touch of reality to him. Realizing that “Chicago mayor” is equally unattainable for him is the next step that Rahm has to take.


EDITOR’S NOTES: The two Chicago metro newspapers should send Charlie Rose a nice gift for him giving them ( their story for the day (,CST-NWS-sweet20.article) out of Rahm-land.

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