Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Chicago’s biggest “character” in 2011 – a brawl, of sorts, between Rahm and Ozzie

The sarcastic side of me wonders if 2011 is going to be the year that we Chicagoans have a challenge for who has the brassiest, hard-edged, tell-it-like-it-is mouth in all of the Second City.

What makes me wonder that is the word earlier this week that Chicago White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen definitely will be back at his job for next season, combined with the reports that White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel may announce on Friday that he’s leaving his current post.

THEORETICALLY, THAT IS so he could move back to Chicago in time to establish residency and put together a campaign so that he could run for his alleged “dream job” – that of Mayor of the city of Chicago.

Of course, Guillen in the past has also referred to the White Sox managerial post as his “dream job” – running the ballclub for which he was once an All Star shortstop.

So 2011 could literally become the year that we get a couple of dreamers assuming posts of prominence in the city (why do I suspect that if Richard M. Daley could ever have had a White Sox job,  he would have thought long and hard about abandoning city government aspirations?).

There also is the obvious.

BOTH MEN HAVE reputations for being blunt-spoken; hard-edged in ways that occasionally border on the profane. Which literally could mean it would become a competition to see who has the bigger mouth – that is, if Emanuel is able to overcome the many political interests in Chicago that right now are repulsed at the very thought of him being mayor.

Just like there are some delusional people in this city who have problems with the idea of Guillen being a baseball manager (most of whom are crackpot Cubs fans of a certain age who can’t get over the fact that Ozzie was a better shortstop than Shawon Dunston).

All I can say is that if we really get these two public personas in Chicago, it will make for interesting copy. Because they both strike me as being underachievers on the job. Both can appoint to a significant accomplishment, but also have their share of failures in their records.

Guillen has that one World Series win in 2005 and a division title in ’08, yet many fans are going to focus their attention on the failures of this season and 2007.

BY COMPARISON, RAHM is the guy whose hardball tactics overcame the hardcore Republican opposition to healthcare reform so that President Barack Obama ultimately was able to sign something into law.

Yet the GOP partisans are determined to spin his likely departure as a sign of his political failure to overcome their obstructionist tactics – ignoring the fact that the timing of the election cycle seems to be setting this policy.

Just as I’m sure Guillen would view an American League championship in 2011 as a way of shutting up his critics, I’m sure Emanuel will engage in hardball tactics to try to win the mayoral post so as to silence his enemies who want to think he’s politically deceased.

There is one significant difference.

GUILLEN’S ANNOUNCEMENT THAT he’s definitely returning to Chicago next year (despite months of hints that he was feeling unappreciated enough to consider leaving) brings his “story” to a close. Now the ballclub can focus on improving for next season.

By comparison, Emanuel’s saga in Washington is merely starting, as the reports already are circulating about who would replace him as White House chief of staff (and some seem eager to discount the early reports that Daley/Obama loyalist Valerie Jarrett was a front-runner for the post).

Ozzie can sit back and relax this winter, while Emanuel will be in for the fight of his life to try to distinguish himself from the many other political minions who these days think they have a shot at winning the 2011 mayoral election.

At least they all have houses to live in, while (if we believe Chicago Sun-Times gossip columnist Mike Sneed) Emanuel has rented out his house to a man who is now refusing to leave the premises – meaning that Rahm doesn’t yet know where he will live upon returning to Chicago.

ALL I KNOW is by next spring, Emanuel could be so frazzled out that he will need to find a way to relax. I’d suggest taking in a White Sox game, and checking out Guillen’s performance on the field.

Except that Emanuel is a former Northwest Side member of Congress, which theoretically makes him a potential fan of the Cubs. But Emanuel also is the guy who is on the record before a Congressional committee (in 1996) as saying, “I hate baseball.”

Perhaps we ought to lock Emanuel in a room with Guillen, where Ozzie could attempt to educate Rahm on the finer points of the game whose professional ball clubs during the past century have become an integral part of the city’s character.

Then again, we’d run the risk of Ozzie emerging from that room thinking he has what it takes to be a political consultant. Yet another political person with a big mouth, even though his candidates would run campaigns that would be interesting – even if they lost.


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