R. Emmett Tyrrell, Jr.
With Rahm in the Windy City
Washington—On Sunday Rahm Emanuel declared his candidacy for mayor of Chicago. Instantaneously, he had problems with his campaign, not the least of which is that he is as much a resident of Chicago as I am. So on Monday I declared my candidacy for mayor of Chicago. Why not? I did it on the national television show of the estimable Sean Hannity, who immediately threw his support behind me. I was born in Chicago, come from a long line of Chicagoans, and like Rahm I am occasionally in town. The place is a gastronomic paradise, a cultural delight with great museums and a fine orchestra, plus opera—surprisingly Rahm and I have never crossed paths while in town. Supposedly, he attends rock concerts. He could attend the Chicago Symphony but he opts for Bruce Springsteen.
My candidacy already had the national endorsement of the New York Sun, which tapped me the day before I declared. I have a new book out, After the Hangover: The Conservatives’ Road to Recovery, to provide Chicagoans, and Americans generally, with a blueprint for getting out of our present political and economic fix. The blogs are alive with support (and occasional rudeness), and more newspaper support is rumored on the way. All Rahm has is a few big names and our mutually held residency problem. Rahm is still seeking newspaper support, and his “listening tour,” begun Monday, has gotten off to a rocky start. A lot of Chicagoans do not like him. He has a reputation for yelling at underlings and for profanity.
As for me, I am free of any hint of Chicago corruption, certainly no hint of a connection to ex-Governor Rod Blagojevich. Frankly, I could not pick him out of a police lineup—at least a police lineup of gaudily dressed gigolos. Rahm is recorded on the telephone with Blagojevich suggesting deals shortly after President Barack Obama’s election. All of this and any other questionable dealings will be rehashed over and again during the run-up to the February election. When it comes to political connections with the Chicago machine or for that matter almost any connection at all—my family lives in the suburbs—I am clean as a hound’s tooth.
More to the point, though Rahm owns a house in Chicago, he does not live in it and cannot live in it. He leased it out nearly two years ago to one Rob Halpin, and it appears that Rob is a patriot. He is not going to let some capricious politician run him out of his home just because the politician decided to leave the sinking ship of President Obama and enter the mayor’s race. He has responsibilities. Moreover, he renewed his lease just days before Mayor Richard M. Daley announced his retirement on September 7. That apparently inspired Rahm to run, and it does raise the question: why did Rahm not leave himself free to move back to Chicago when he took his ill-considered job as President Obama’s chief of staff? President Obama has maintained his home there and is freer to run for mayor than Rahm. Why, as recently as the first week in September, did Rahm not see this mayoral race as at least a possibility, or maybe some other Chicago electoral endeavor? As I say, he suddenly decided to jump ship.
It all smacks of opportunism, and Rahm’s usual proclivity for bullying people. He tried it on me, when as a prelude to siccing a grand jury on The American Spectator, his Clinton White House sent me not a dead fish but a copy of Bill Clinton’s book Between Hope and History, suitably inscribed but with no explanation. It was sent on February 26, 1998, and marked the beginning of a year-long investigation of the Spectator on felony charges meant to tarnish Ken Starr’s witness in the Whitewater matter. The proceedings were dismissed as a witch hunt, but it did last a year, and it was unpleasant. In fact it reeks of bully politics.
Now Rahm envisages his unpleasant bully politics for Chicago, but he is dealing with serious pols, Sheriff Tom Dart and state Senator James Meeks. Charges of “carpetbagger” are in the air and that word again, “bullying.” Still these guys can deal with bullies, especially Dart who is sheriff of all of Cook County. Moreover, experts on the electoral law have weighed in, and they see tremendous hurdles for Rahm to leap—and me too. I shall throw myself on the mercies of the court. Will Rahm trust the courts?
One of Chicago’s top lawyers, Burt Odelson, told the Chicago Sun-Times that “The guy does not meet the statutory requirements to run for mayor.” Odelson elaborated, “He hasn’t been back there for 18 months. Residency cases are usually hard cases to prove because the candidate gets an apartment or says he’s living in his mother’s basement. Here the facts are easy to prove. He doesn’t dispute he’s been in Washington for the past 18 months. This is not a hard case.”
Well, Rahm, how about joining my legal case and throwing yourself on the mercy of the court? You got one thing right in all of this. Now is a good time to leave the White House. It might be a good time for Barack, too. Can one run for mayor while being president of the United States? Check it out, Barack. We can all run.
R. Emmett Tyrrell, Jr. is founder and editor in chief of The American Spectator and an adjunct scholar at the Hudson Institute. His new book is After the Hangover: The Conservatives’ Road to Recovery.