A year ago I posted a video of Tribune columnist John Kass schmoozing with Mayor Rahm Emanuel. It was Christmastime. Followed by a Tribune camera crew, Kass had trotted over from the Tower to exchange presents in Emanuel’s office.
Judge Kass by what he writes, I said, not by the stupid ideas of the people he works for. I repeat that advice, and wonder if he’s trying to atone for the embarrassment by now writing about the mayor with tart perspicacity.
Early this month he described “the Rahm I happen to like”—which is, alas, not the only Rahm there is. “The real guy, his voice gone, a bit vulnerable, slightly unsure, the Rahm without a sneer, a human being, somewhat worried but resolute, bravely pushing off toward that undiscovered country.” I think this is a fine passage because I recognize this Rahm, and because few pundits bother to notice anybody this way.
And that buddy-buddy video made more poignant this observation from last Sunday’s South Side Irish Parade: “Rahm was Rahm, a bit stiff, formal, wearing a pale green tie, and that tight smile, quick walking down the parade route, with some boos coming his way. Before the parade I stood right in front of the mayor, two or three feet away, and Rahm avoided me. And he worked hard at it.”
On Friday Kass struck a familiar note—the media are full of suck-ups.
Chicago Public Schools owes $1 billion, and the only way out is bankruptcy, something I’ve been warning you about for months. And City Hall owes a $550 million pension payment due after the election. Both the schools and City Hall are controlled by Rahm.
But all I seem to hear is this:
WWCD? What Would Chuy Do? . . .
I even read somewhere [that would be on the Tribune editorial page] that Chuy lost the last debate 15 minutes in because he didn’t say what he’d do, exactly.
Chuy? Where are you Chooo-eeee?
It’s smart Chicago politics. But turning it all on Chuy is the wrong question. It is, however, the proper pro-Rahm question.
And Rahm has many media contacts and friends among the TV types, and he has the support of both newspaper editorial boards.
Besides, Rahm has tens of millions of dollars—raised from people who do business with City Hall—to spend on TV commercials.
That’s how it’s done. Not with the editorial boards as much as with the TV ads. And not just a few TV ads either. But a plethora of Rahm TV ads.
We’ve bathed in them.
So we have. My wife and I were amazed by the way this week’s debate between Emanuel and Garcia ended on Channel Five, which hosted it. The moment the program was over the screen went black and then this message appeared in white text: “Chuy Garcia made $1.9 billion in spending promises.”
So began an Emanuel commercial ripping Garcia as fiscally empty-headed and irresponsible.
I suppose the commercial was a tidy little payday for Channel Five. But its placement so close to the debate that it might as well have been a sponsor of it made the station look partisan and opportunistic. It didn’t do the mayor a favor either: the candidates’ voices exchanging views still rang in our ears as this reminder came along that it’s not Emanuel’s policies that matter—it’s his war chest.