With all the faith I have in the sophistication of Chicago voters, I’m confident no one will be fooled by the phony-baloney “feud” that has supposedly erupted between Mayor Rahm and Governor Rauner over Father Michael Pfleger’s great Dan Ryan protest.
What’s that you say? You don’t really believe I have any faith in the sophistication of Chicago’s voters?
OK, it’s true I believe they blew it in the mayoral election of 2015.
And, now that I think about it, every mayoral election since Mayor Harold Washington took office in 1987.
However, that doesn’t mean I think they’re dumb enough to believe Rahm and Rauner are really feuding.
In case you’ve forgotten, let me remind you that Rahm and Rauner are more than good pals who once shared expensive bottles of wine while vacationing at Rauner’s Montana ranch.
They were also business partners, each helping the other make millions on a 2001 deal back in 2001, when Rahm was an investment banker and Rauner ran a private equity company.
And they’re ideological soul mates when it comes to the destruction of the Chicago Teachers Union and the privatization of Chicago Public Schools.
Rauner is clearly an ideological true believer in both these causes—he’s one of the reasons we have the Supreme Court’s disgraceful ruling in the Janus case.
I’m still not sure whether Rahm is similarly ideological, but no matter what motivated him, he bought in to the privatization schemes Rauner was selling. Perhaps he bought in hoping it would earn him a national reputation as the kind of Democrat who tells teachers and teachers’ union leaders to shut the eff up and do as he commands.
As in his infamous exchange with former CTU president Karen Lewis.
In any regards, Rahm put Rauner’s wife, Diana, on his 2011 educational transition team, which helped pilot the conversion of unionized public schools into nonunion charters.
Rauner cheered Rahm on, urging him to close more union schools, cut taxes on the rich, and do other diabolical things near and dear to the governor’s gumball-size heart.
In 2014, Rahm largely sat on his hands rather than help former governor Pat Quinn fend off Rauner’s challenge. (It’s only appropriate that Quinn is now getting a little revenge with his mayoral term-limit campaign.)
So what between Rahm and Rauner has changed between then and now that makes them feel compelled to convince voters they’re feuding?
It’s election season, of course.
Facing a November race against J.B. Pritzker, Rauner feels compelled to try to galvanize the Trump base in the Republican Party—many of whom still haven’t forgiven the governor for signing HB 40, the reproductive rights bill.
As for Rahm, my best guess is he’s inching left to assure black voters that just because he may have buried evidence of Laquan McDonald’s murder by a police officer doesn’t mean he’s a racist.
So they staged their great feud over Pfleger’s march, taking a page from Trump by turning to Twitter to exchange barbs.
Eager to take the law-and-order line for the Trumpsters, Rauner argued that the mayor had disregarded a deal to limit marchers to the side of the Dan Ryan. The governor tweeted: “I’m disappointed in the mayor. There was an agreement in place. I am calling on the mayor to take swift and decisive action to put an end to this kind of chaos.”
And Rahm—trying to look as though he were John Lewis on the Edmund Pettus Bridge—denied any deal was in place, gave police chief Eddie Johnson the OK to join Pfleger’s march, and tweeted back to Rauner: “It was a peaceful protest. Delete your account.”
Voters, let me remind you there are more than two billion reasons not to believe this feud is real.
I’m alluding to the $2.25 billion (and counting) in public money that Rahm and Rauner have teamed up to offer Jeff Bezos, the world’s richest man, to bring an Amazon headquarters to Chicago.
That’s money that won’t be available for programs that would help ease the crime and violence that led Pfleger to march on the Dan Ryan. (Speaking of which, wouldn’t you love to see Pfleger and Johnson leading a march against the city and state’s Amazon handout?)
This so-called feud between Rahm and Rauner is what the late great Mayor Washington and later Barack Obama called the old okey-doke.
Here’s hoping voters are too sophisticated to fall for it.