The Fall of Rahm Emanuel: Liner Notes

I have a new column up at the The Federalist, “Rahm Emanuel’s Decline Mirrors The Democratic Party’s Identity Crisis.” You may not like him; I certainly don’t. In fact, when he first ran for Mayor of Chicago, I may have given a petition collector the line about not crossing the street to put him out were he on fire.  But that doesn’t mean his successor will be any better, because his fall is about (among other things) the Democrats’ march toward identity politics and “democratic socialism.”

What got left out?  Plenty, because the Byzantine, one-party politics of the Windy City creates endless, weird stories that tend to prevent people from seeing how Emanuel was at least partly a victim of overarching national trends.  For example, outside the city, it may be hard to fully comprehend how isolated Emanuel was even before the Chicago policing mess really exploded with the Laquan McDonald case.  His public schedule was frequently empty, in favor of private meetings with what passes for the donor class here.  The degree to which Emanuel seemed to eschew building grass-roots support is strange even after accounting for the fact that getting people to like him was outside his core skill set.  After all, when he ran for the House, the local news would always run stories of Rahm pressing the flesh on some train platform during the rush hour, even if the coverage had a sort of “man bites dog” feel to it.

More seriously, I could have included much more about Chicago’s scandalous history of police brutality.  The hundreds of millions paid out in settlement in the latter Daley and Emanuel eras reflected the rule more than any exception.  The Wikipedia entry for Chicago police Commander Jon Burge gives only a flavor of the depths of the problem, but perhaps enough to understand how difficult it would have been for Emanuel — or any Mayor — to clean up this stain in the course of a few years.

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