I Guess the Daley Grind Got to Him
Small confession: I kind of like Chicago. The city, I mean, not the band.
I speak mostly as a tourist, as I’ve never lived there. But from a distance, Chicago seems pretty great. (I haven’t been there since . . . 1998, I think.) There’s a lot to love: giant skyscrapers, all kinds of entertainment including the SNL farm team known as Second City, all kinds of food usually served in gargantuan portions, a crazy quilt of ethnic neighborhoods, a sports-crazy town where people care about how the local baseball teams perform, even though one is legendary for making their fans suffer. Pizza, brats, cold beer, mustaches. It’s easy to be tempted to live there. . . .
. . . and then you hear about how the city is run, and you wince. Beijing has a healthier two-party system than the Windy City. Graft, corruption, bribes, egos and authority run amok — apparently the city puts enormous effort into looking normal and functional to outsiders. Look a bit closer, and you see all the Morlocks who make sure the wheels greased, far away from the Eloi lifestyle that makes up the sitcoms and tourist sites. Like a movie with an unsympathetic protagonist, it often seems that there’s nobody to root for in Chicago politics.
But change is coming to the city that generated the guy who pledged change: “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,” Daley said at a City Hall news conference that stunned the city. “In the end this is a personal decision, no more, no less.’”
Seven terms. This guy could look at a six-termer like Orrin Hatch and say, “rookie.”
The Hill’s Sam Youngman said on Twitter: “Daley not running for reelection. Rahm-shaped hole in the wall of the West Wing.”
. . . One of my regular readers in Illinois wrote in with his take: “Not a surprise about Daley not running again. His wife has been fighting cancer, his poll numbers (lower 30s approval) are terrible, and more and more he looks and sounds tired and clueless at what to do about the violence. (His Police Chief is a moron.)
“Don’t measure the 5th floor at City Hall for Rahmbo either. Dem Congressman from the city (Danny Davis and Luis Guitierrez) have been in Congress forever, and they know being in the minority means showing up to vote and no power they won’t give Rahm a free pass. The African American vote in the City is overwhelming, and they will pick the next Mayor. We’ll have to see if see if the Dear Leader annoints Rahm or stays neutral. (Maybe he’ll resign and run……Mayor for LIFE, ha ha ha.)” A few progressives seem determined to make sure Rahm never becomes mayor. The Progressive Change Campaign Committee declared, “Rahm is unfit to represent Democrats in office. He’s a cancer on the Democratic Party. Democrats’ current 2010 situation is due to a weak Rahm Emanuel mentality that says water down real reform at the urging of Republicans and corporations, thus making Democratic reform less popular with voters than the real deal would have been.”
Then there’s this classic exercise in self-delusion: “If Democrats had passed the overwhelmingly-popular public option and broken up the big banks when they had the chance, they’d be cruising for a landslide victory right now.”
No matter how far in one direction a White House goes, there will always, always, always be some grassroots organizer insisting that they were just one more lunge away from phenomenal popularity.