Sunday, May 13, 2012



I genuinely tried to read the articles in today’s Chicago Tribune and Sun-Times on Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s being about to conclude his first year in office. But I couldn’t. Even considering that such retrospectives are nearly always intended to be puff pieces, these love letters were intolerably obsequious. The only thing that one would learn from reading this drivel is that no one, absolutely no one, gets better press than Rahm Emanuel.

We are left then with a question: Why does Rahm Emanuel inspire such devotion on the part of Chicago’s, and, to a lesser extent, and only because he is not as saliently on their radar screen, the nation’s, press corps?

It seems to yours truly that the Mayor’s good press springs from his consanguinity with the press corps. Just as most of the press in the greatest city in the world is composed of what in a simpler time would be called yuppies, Mr. Emanuel is the ultimate yuppie pol. Indeed, he is the yuppie standard-bearer against the (to Mr. Emanuel and his cheerleaders) rude, crude political denizens of the south and southwest sides. Like much, probably most, of his adoring press, he did not grow up in the city, comes from a wealthy background, and never had to spend a heck of a lot of time in the trenches…any trenches. He has spent his life in and around public office with no experience in the actual private sector, unless one counts selling public sector access “private sector experience.” He grew up on the north shore and lives on the north side. He gives the impression that, like most of the press, he is not very comfortable once he gets south of Congress unless he is being driven down south Lake Shore to Hyde Park. Like most of the press in our town, he considers a trip to even my beloved Beverly and its environs, one of the most beautiful, safe, and civil neighborhoods in the city, if not the world, an urban adventure. Like many of our press denizens, he was well, and expensively, educated at an exclusive eastern school (in his case, Sarah Lawrence) before returning to Northwestern for what people in his stratum of society consider a “Chicago” experience. Like most of our press, he believes deeply in the wisdom of government and is devoted to the notion that government can solve all of society’s ills if only it is in the hands of the right people, a belief rooted in Plato’s notion of the philosopher king, and there is no doubt in the minds of either Rahm or his admirers whom Plato must have presciently had in mind when expostulating on this notion some 2,400 years ago. While ceaselessly praising “the private sector,” Rahm and his devotees in the press consider the “private sector” as merely an appendage of the government, there to pay the bills and do the bidding of the estimables who have managed, with the help of the “private sector’s” money, to hoodwink enough of an apathetic and largely clueless electorate into putting these thoroughly entitled wise men in office. The “private sector,” or at least those portions of it which Rahm and his compatriots would deign to deal with, has completely bought into this program, by the way; what’s principle when a place at the trough with plenty of elbow room on either side is at stake? No wonder Mr. Emanuel thinks he is completely in tune with Chicago’s “private sector;” he has surrounded himself with sycophants, from both the private and public sectors, who are completely dependent on his largesse with the taxpayers’ money for their prosperity or, in some cases, their very survival. This explains the other great emotion, besides devotion, that Mr. Emanuel inspires: Fear. But that is another post.

Despite my philosophical differences with Mr. Emanuel, there are many (well, maybe several) of his initiatives with which I agree. It is curious, though, that he is able to get away with some of these when he would be leading the hoots of derision if identical moves were initiated by a Republican, but I digress. Mr. Emanuel has done a good job as mayor, especially in light of the fiscal equivalent of a neutron bomb attack left him by his predecessor. And I congratulate Mayor Emanuel and wish him well; after all, he is a capable man and my home town is in his hands. But note that I do so without a hint of either consanguinity or sycophancy.

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