As if it weren’t bad enough that President Obama felt compelled to saddle us with Mayor Rahm Emanuel in 2011, he’s doubled down and endorsed him for a second term.
Mr. President, what have we done to deserve such scorn?
I suppose I should be grateful that the president has for the moment limited his endorsement to a radio spot instead of cutting a TV commercial or making a joint appearance at a thunderous campaign rally.
Though it may come to that if the mayor gets desperate as the February 24 election approaches.
For the anti-Rahm crowd—and I know you’re out there—that’s the glimmer of good news in this latest development.
Mayor Emanuel has raised many times more campaign contributions than all of his opponents combined, and they remain largely unknown because they can’t afford mailings. Yet he’s doing so poorly in his internal polls that he apparently needs the president’s help to avoid a runoff.
Just as he needs to go negative in his mailings, blasting Cook County Board commissioner Jesus Garcia and Alderman Bob Fioretti by name.
I don’t recall Mayor Daley ever deigning to mention his opponents when he was running for reelection.
For the record, I learned about the presidential endorsement from my wife—who heard about it from a friend—as we were out eating a delicious Chinese dinner.
I rushed home to find two e-mails from the mayor’s campaign bragging about the endorsement. Apparently, Emanuel and his aides were so gleeful they mistakenly sent the same message twice.
I’m not an insider, so I don’t know for certain why the president felt compelled to run to Rahm’s rescue, except that years ago they clearly made some sort of pact to act as though they like each other.
My guess is that Obama also remembers that they share the same fund-raising base, which will come in handy with future endeavors like the presidential library.
It certainly can’t be for the reasons cited by the president in the commercial.
The ad starts off with Obama—as folksy as he can be—reminding us that Emanuel used to work for him in the White House as chief of staff.
What the president leaves out is that it didn’t take long for Emanuel to wear out his White House welcome with his arrogance and autocratic behavior.
By the end of 2010, pretty much everyone—and Michelle Obama in particular—was looking for some gracious, face-saving way to get Rahm the hell out of there.
Thus the deal was cut with Richard and William Daley in which the powers that be ushered in Rahm to fill the vacancy created when Mayor Daley retired. Bill then took Rahm’s job in the White House.
Emanuel’s send-off occurred on October 1, 2010, when the president and 150 White House aides—including ten cabinet members—gathered to pretend they were sad to see Rahm dumped on Chicago.
“Rahm would make an excellent mayor,” President Obama said.
You know, just to make sure that Chicago’s voters would actually be bamboozled into doing their part and voting for Emanuel.
With the president’s backing, Emanuel won more than 50 percent of the vote in the black wards—enough to win without a runoff.
He paid back those voters by closing their schools and clinics, declaring war on unionized teachers, and firing south- and west-side city workers—the heart and soul of the black middle class. Then he threatened to cut the pensions of those who’d retired.
And so we’re back where we started: with the mayor needing President Obama to help him win black votes.
In the radio spot, President Obama tries to counter the antipathy Mayor Emanuel has created by repeating the mayor’s reelection mantra: I only hurt you ’cause I love you so much.
Specifically, President Obama praises the mayor for taking a tough stand and giving children a longer school day.
This is the continuation of a fantasy in which the mayor depicts himself as a brave sheriff—think Gary Cooper in High Noon—walking down a lonely street to face a horde of bad guys who don’t want children to have a decent education.
As much as I don’t want to relive that fight—it’s so 2012—let me remind you: the bad guys in question were actually the teachers and parents who wanted the mayor to adequately fund a longer day to ensure kids would have something meaningful to do with the extra time.
Alas, that fight was lost, as we still don’t have art, drama, or music in all the schools.
The president concludes his message by saying Mayor Emanuel loves Chicago.
That’s just what people used to tell me about Mayor Daley. Along with: at least we’re not Detroit.
In fact, it’s pretty obvious that Mayor Emanuel is once again stealing a page from the Daley playbook in his reelection effort. He’s manufacturing the appearance of widespread support in order to convince people that opposition is both futile and unnecessary.
You’ll be hearing more of the same as corporate Chicago picks up the refrain: we’re lucky to have a strong leader who loves us so much.
As a matter of fact, I remember Senator Obama saying much the same thing on behalf of Mayor Daley back in 2007, despite all the scandals and corruption of the previous four years.
Now we have Mayor Emanuel asking that we reelect him for having the courage to undo all the bad things that Mayor Daley did—though he’s still not courageous enough to mention Mayor Daley by name.
That’s the same Rahm Emanuel who also endorsed Mayor Daley year after year.
We’re a stubborn people in Chicago, determined never to learn from the mistakes we constantly make.