Jewish World Review Feb. 28, 2011 / 24 Adar I, 5771
Chicago wanted a strongman, and it got one
By John Kass
http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | Chicago, meet your new boss: The Rahmfather.
You can call him by his formal title, Mayor-elect
Or you might join the Daley brothers in rhythmic clapping in the bowels of
"Rahmulus! Rahmulus! Rahmulus!"
Yet no matter what you call him, no matter what you think of him, by winning Tuesday's election without a messy runoff,
He'll govern that way. It's what was sold. It's what is expected. The thing is, he's smarter than the old boss, more talented, skillful, adept, more focused.
If one of Rahm's relatives ever receives
No one would believe him.
Rahm will begin making moves almost immediately, what with the city's finances in disastrous shape. And he will change minds.
This is no game. And becoming mayor of
The first thing he'll do is reorganize the
But the city wanted a strongman and it got one. Over the past 20 years, Daley decimated what remained of the ward organizations and installed his own patronage armies. Now there are only a few truly talented aldermen left in the council.
The new mayor may take a trophy head or two, perhaps that of Ald.
What Tuesday's victory prevents is outside examination of the
Emanuel's victory completes an interesting switcheroo, with
Some might call it cynical. But with a 2012 presidential re-election campaign under way, others might call it smart politics the
Emanuel could have had the Daley endorsement if he had wanted it. But he didn't want it. The mayor had become toxic with that parking meter mess, with motorists paying quarters and quarters and more quarters, reportedly enriching investors in
So Rahm had the best of both worlds. He received the Daley support, meaning establishment
And now Rahm can make his own moves. Months ago, he and I were at a diner having breakfast near his campaign office, and I told him I would write that the campaign was his to lose, and I did.
But there was also this nagging feeling that his candidacy was merely about papering over the gaping financial holes left by Daley.
Rahm surprised me with a bit of honesty and clarity.
"There were a lot of decisions, or the lack of making a decision, that have led to this very bad financial situation that wasn't just recession-driven," he said about all that red ink covering the city's books.
"We have to make big, big, changes, because just putting more quarters in a broken machine ain't gonna work."
Broken machine? Quarters? The reference to Daley's ridiculous parking meter deal was unmistakable, and I thought his metaphorical comment was a slip of the tongue.
"No, it's not," he explained. "It's exactly the kind of metaphor I was going for."
Now that the campaign is over, the toadies will bend and smooch, bend and smooch. We'll be treated to gushing media profiles of Emanuel and desperate pleas for access, like the recent epistles in some of the national magazines.
But Emanuel got his fill of such gushing praise two years ago, when he was named as Obama's chief of staff. Entire forests were killed to praise Rahm, in the hopes of obtaining access.
Then, hardly a word was written about the hundreds of
But even with all that inevitable smooching, what's refreshing is that Rahm is too intelligent to enjoy it.
"That's the thing about Rahm that reporters don't get," said a friend who worked with him for years. "He hates all that butt-kissing. He's got things to do."
Like a broken city to boss. And the Daleys to satisfy, and a president to re-elect. It won't be easy.
Good luck, Rahmfather.
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John Kass is a columnist for the Chicago Tribune. Comments by clicking here.
© 2008, Chicago Tribune. Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.