An earlier article discussed Chicago politics under father and son Daley - Richard J. (mayor from April 20, 1955 - December 20, 1976) and Richard M. (mayor since April 24, 1989), both called "Hizzhonor" or "Hizzhonor Da Mare."
Last winning a sixth term on February 27, 2007 by a 70% majority, most observers expected he'd seek another in 2011, but not so. The Chicago Tribune, on September 7, announced it, headlining, "Daley won't run for re-election: 'I have done my best,' saying:
"Mayor Richard Daley says he will not run for re-election in 2011," saying it's:
"time for me, it's time for Chicago to move on. The truth is I have been thinking about this for the past several months. In the end, this is a personal decision, no more, no less. I have always known that people want you to work hard for them. Clearly, they won't agree always with you. Obviously, they don't like it when you make a mistake. But at all times, they expect you to lead, to make difficult decisions, rooted in what's right for them."
For 21 years, that's what I've tried to do. But today, I am announcing that I will not seek a 7th term as mayor of the city of Chicago."
One reason may be his wife's health, battling breast cancer since 2002 as well as recovering from leg surgery, damaged by cancer and radiation treatment.
His popularity is also at issue, summer polls showing over half of Chicago voters saying they don't want him back:
-- 37% approve of his job as mayor;
-- 47% disapprove; and
-- a record low 31% want him re-elected compared to 53% who don't.
Besides crime, corruption, and other issues, the weak economy is key. It forced budget cuts, staff reductions, mass teacher layoffs, and a record $655 million budget shortfall, a combination leaving all city politicians vulnerable and defensive. At least half a dozen aldermen won't run again, voter dissatisfaction affecting them like Daley.
In early 2010, White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel expressed interest in the job, though never by challenging the incumbent, whom he served as strategist and fundraiser in his first campaign. He's now unencumbered, the UK Telegraph's Alex Spillius headlining on June 20, "Rahm Emanuel expected to quit White House," saying:
At issue are policy and style differences as well as burnout from the pressure of "one of the most high profile jobs in US politics," a leading Democrat consultant saying:
"Nobody thinks it's working but they can't get rid of him - that would look awful. He needs the right sort of job to go to but the consensus is he'll go."
Another insider expects he'll announce it after the November midterm elections that look grim for Democrats. "It is well known in Washington" that Emanuel often clashes with other administration officials, his abrasive style "rubb(ing) some people the wrong way," while struggling to smooth Obama's legislative program through Congress. "Every vote has been tough, from health care to energy to financial reform," and some have been stalled.
"Emanuel (also) reportedly told friends that his role as White House chief of staff was 'only an eighteen month job' because of its intensity." It involves controlling and promoting the president's agenda, enforcing discipline, and liaising with Congress. Look for his announced decision, perhaps shortly after November 2 when the results are in, the new Congress is announced, and the dust settles. According to friends, he wants to go home, his birth city, where he served six years in the House representing Illinois' 5th congressional district.
On September 8, The Hill writer Jordan Fabian headlined, "Axelrod hints Emanuel may run for Chicago mayor," saying:
He "hinted strongly" that he's "weighing a bid for Chicago's open mayoral" position....(Obama's senior advisor) Axelrod's comments....one of the strongest suggestions" that he plans a run. On NBC's Today Show, he said he'll "make his decision in due time."
On September 14, Chicago Sun Times writer Lynn Sweet headlined, "Rahm's pollster asking about a run for mayor," saying:
Stanley Greeberg will "survey Chicagoans about (his) potential mayoral bid," Emanuel also "activat(ing) his Chicago network of pals to reach out to (local) political figures....on his behalf." Last week, in fact, Obama "said he would make an excellent mayor," but he'll need more than that, as well as handling potential challengers. Former Senator Carol Mosley Braun is one, signaling a comeback under the "Carol for Chicago" banner.
Some Background on Emanuel
Born in Chicago, his political career began in a number of capacities in local and national politics, including:
-- Democrat Paul Simon's 1984 election;
-- in 1988, as political director for the Democrat Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC), and
-- senior advisor and chief fundraiser for Richard M. Daley's first 1989 campaign, helping him become Bill Clinton's finance director in 1992.
He joined his 1991 primary campaign, worked in his "War Room," and served as senior advisor from 1993 - 1998. Initially he was Assistant to the President for Political Affairs but was fired for his profane, abrasive style, rubbing many around him the wrong way, earning the nickname "Rahmbo."
In the late 1980s, he once sent a rotting fish to a pollster whom he accused of conducting inaccurate and poorly prepared research, and clashed often with others around him.
Nonetheless, he recouped by lobbying Congress for NAFTA, worked to reinvent Clinton as a centrist, and became a leading White House strategist. Politico called him "a consistent voice for anti-crime measures, welfare reform and other initiatives that pushed against liberal orthodoxy," besides being one-sided for Israel and pro-business, essential credentials for aspiring politicians.
From 1999 - 2002, he was managing director for the Chicago investment bank firm Dresdner, Kleinwort, Wasserstein, earning a reported $18 million, a near impossible feat for a newcomer leaving some to ask how. He then left after being elected to Congress, his first term beginning on January 3, 2003.
In 2005, he was named Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) Chair, heading fundraising efforts to increase the party's congressional representation, saying in his new role "winning is everything." On November 6, 2008, Obama named him chief of staff. With the nation facing economic depression, he told the Wall Street Journal:
"You never want to let a serious crisis go to waste. What I mean by that is that's an opportunity to do things you couldn't do before," and he didn't mean populist ones.
In Congress, he was the fourth ranked House Democrat. A hawk, neoliberal, and pro-Israeli hard-liner, now deceased Chicago activist/investigative reporter, and founder and chairman of the Citizens Committee to Clean up the Courts, Sherman Skolnick, called him the "acting deputy chief for North America of Mossad."
His father, Benjamin Emanuel (changed from Auerbach in 1936 by his grandfather Exekiel), a Jerusalem-born pediatrician, was involved, pre-1948, with smuggling weapons to the Irgun. The terror group, headed by former Prime Minister Menachem Begin, conducted regular massacres and targeted assassinations, including the infamous 1946 King David Hotel bombing, killing 91 and injuring dozens more.
Emanuel is as hard line as his father, dismissive of Palestinian interests, and in 1991, served as a civilian IDF volunteer during the Gulf War. It's believed he holds dual citizenships, a dubious status for a top White House official.
In Congress and as chief of staff, he supports Israeli belligerency and ruthless occupation. He also backs the Iraq and Afghan wars, other proxy ones, America's imperial dominance, the "War on Terror," and as a shameless neoliberal, drastic social cuts to pay for them. He's for business, not populist interests, and his abrasive style makes him intolerable of other views and people sharing them.
He's also a prominent Democratic Leadership Council (DLC) member, the far-to-the-right-of center organization Ralph Nader calls "corporatist (and) soulless," ideologically like Republicans. He and the DLC are anti-populist, anti-labor, anti-welfare, pro-business, strongly for US imperialism, militarism, global wars, and world dominance. Nader explained that:
"To the DLC mind, Democrats are catering to 'special interests' when they stand up for trade unions, regulatory consumer-investor protections, a preemptive peace policy overseas, pruning the bloated military budget now devouring (the federal budget), defending Social Security from Wall Street schemes, and pressing for universal health care coverage. So right-wing is the DLC....that even opposing Bush's tax cuts for the wealthy....is considered ultra-liberal and contrary to winning campaigns."
DLC members are hardline against rights for Blacks, Hispanics, Latino immigrants, Muslims, labor, the poor, consumer protections, populism, progressivism, environmental protection, peace and those for it, prosecuting corporate criminals, honest elections, and democratic governance.
Emanuel strongly advocates these and other far right positions, leaving longtime residents like this writer uneasy over him as mayor. If he runs the city like the White House, Chicagoans may yearn for Daley back, despite his pro-business, anti-populist agenda, earning him Time magazine's 2005 recognition as "the nation's top urban executive," and 2009 Wall Street Journal praise as "The President's Mayor, a fix-it, problem-solving man."
Emanuel replacing him will create, not alleviate the many now plaguing the city, a cross ordinary Chicagoans bear most plus whatever greater burden he'll add. Where are you Harold Washington when you're needed? By defeating the Daley machine, he became Chicago's first Black mayor (April 29, 1983 - November 25, 1987) until his premature death, remembered fondly as "Harold, the People's Mayor," the title of Dempsey Travis' 1988 book about him.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at email@example.com. Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.