Oh No, Joe! Say It Ain’t So. Biden Considering Rahm Emanuel for Cabinet Post
But Black Chicago Is Having None of It
Here we go again.
This is the next episode in the 401-year-long sad, sad saga of :
The betrayal of black people.
The ignoring of black people.
The disregard for black people.
The disrespect of black people.
“Reports” and “rumors” are swirling throughout Democratic Party circles that former Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel is being seriously considered as transportation secretary in Joe Biden’s upcoming administration.
Emanuel, 61, abruptly dropped out of the running for a third Chicago mayoral term 26 months ago. He has since joined major broadcast media circles as a Democratic Party eminence grise, an elder statesman, a “respected” TV talking head, pundit, and prognosticator. It’s worth noting, however, that at no time during his eight years as mayor of this nation-state’s third-largest city did he completely relinquish his day job as a Wall Street hedge fund manager and investment banker.
And, since being driven out of the prospect for a third term in Chicago, this failed mayor has also been an early, unofficial, low key Biden adviser.
Almost simultaneously, Emanuel began a career in finance at the investment bank Wasserstein Perella & Co. in 1998. By 2002 he was on the board of directors of Freddie Mac. It was also in 2002 when Emanuel won Illinois 5th Congressional District seat, a position vacated by Rod Blagojevich, who had resigned to become governor of Illinois. Emanuel served in Congress from 2003 to 2009.
A native of Chicago and alumnus of Northwestern University, Emanuel’s early career in Democratic politics began as director of the finance committee for Bill Clinton’s 1992 presidential campaign. He quickly rose in the Clinton administration, becoming assistant to the president for political affairs and as the Senior Advisor to the President for policy and strategy.
Emanuel was tapped by America’s “First Black President,” Barack Obama as his first Chief of Staff, a move much criticized by “progressives” but praised by center-right Democrats. Emanuel had held several high-level positions during his congressional tenure and was well known for his acerbic, take-no-prisoners personality and his often vulgar language. But he got things done — “things” that usually involved turning back most “progressive” initiatives and forging unseemly compromises with “conservative” “Blue Dog” Democrats.
Joe…You Better Ask Somebody!
Before Joe Biden picks Rahm Emanuel for any position in his administration, perhaps he should consult with the black people of Chicago. Or, at least, with anyone…somebody! in his campaign or on his transition team who knows enough about Chicago to point out to him that Emanuel’s presence in a Biden administration would send a deal-breaking signal to not just black Chicago, but to all of black America as well.
To wit, among the first moves Emanuel made as Mayor of Chicago was to close just about all of the city-run mental health clinics on Chicago’s South and West Sides. For the uninitiated, these areas constitute the two main concentrations of black people in Chicago, amounting to not quite one million souls.
In some circles, Chicago is considered as the Black Political Capital of these United States. After all, here lives both the Rev. Jesse Jackson and the Minister Louis Farrakhan; not to mention the only openly black and gay female big city mayor. And, for those of us who truly love this city, it was not only founded by a black man — Jean Baptiste Point DuSable — but is was home plate for the late, great first black Chicago mayor (1983–1987), Harold Washington.
At the same time that Emanuel was closing mental health facilities and public schools only in black neighborhoods, dig this: he increased by orders of magnitude the police presence in those selfsame neighborhoods. He did all of this while ruthlessly and relentlessly slashing or eliminating altogether critical city services which were disproportionately needed and used by the city’s poorest citizens. That would be thousands upon thousands of black West and Southsiders.
‘The First Black President’
So, why and how did this man become the “First Jewish Mayor” of Chicago, a city with one of the largest concentrations of black people in the country?
Black people of Chicago voted for Rahm Emanuel for one reason and one reason only: because President Barack Obama told them to. When Chicago’s long-time mayor Richard M. Daley finally retired after twenty-one years in office, Emanuel (still then Obama’s Chief of Staff) began to immediately make loud noises about running for mayor of his native and Obama’s adopted hometown. Although there were several well qualified black and brown potential candidates poised to run, Obama stepped in and short-circuited all other possible contenders. The First Black President (and beloved, even worshipped First Chicagoan) stepped up to declare that Rahm Emanuel “would make a great mayor of Chicago.”
Game. Set. Match.
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The reason Emanuel did not run for a third term as Mayor of Chicago had everything to do with his odious policy positions and practices vis-a-vis Chicago’s black community. The infamous Chicago Democratic Party Machine (otherwise known as the “Regular” Democratic Party) was all set to endorse and support Emanuel for another run for the 5th Floor of Chicago’s City Hall by its “regular” Democratic mayor.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel faced withering criticism for his handling of the October 20, 2014, police murder of Laquan McDonald. The dash-cam video of the shooting was initially withheld, and only, finally, was released after a judge ordered it on November 24, 2015.
Emanuel was roundly excoriated from all corners for both covering up the incident and continuing to allow Chicago police to use excessive force against black Chicagoans. Chicago Tribune columnist John Kass was even more direct. He argued that Emanuel withheld from the public the police dashboard camera video of the shooting in order to secure his reelection. Emanuel responded by firing his white police chief and appointing a black one.
Massive protests, mainly by black Chicagoans, erupted immediately following release of the video. On Black Friday, protesters shut down the city’s famed, high-end, downtown (the “Loop”) shopping strip known as the Magnificent Mile. Emanuel’s approval rating sank to 18%, together with widespread calls for his resignation, the loudest of which came from black people on the South and West Sides.
And on Christmas Eve, 2015, black protesters repeated their Black Friday marches, once again shutting down the city’s busy Michigan Avenue shopping district on December 24, 2015.
The completely tone-deaf Chicago Police Department demonstrated as well: Amazingly, on the very next day, December 26, 2015, a police officer killed two people in yet another shooting, including a black man weilding a baseball bat and an unarmed black woman whom the officer had shot “by mistake.”
On September 4, 2018, Emanuel suddenly announced his withdrawal from the upcoming mayoral sweepstakes. His declaration, interestingly, came one day before the murder trial of police officer Jason Van Dyke for the 2014 murder of black teenager Laquan McDonald.
Naturally, Emanuel argued that his sudden departure from politics had nothing whatever to do with any of this. Instead, he said that he and his wife Amy Rule were simply planning for the “next chapter” in their lives.
As much as I love this job and will always love this city and its residents, I’ve decided not to seek re-election,” Emanuel said at a press conference. This has been the job of a lifetime, but it is not a job for a lifetime. I will always be here for the future of this great city. Not as mayor, but in the most important role anyone can play — as a citizen.
And, once again and right on que, former President Barack Obama issued a statement praising his first chief of staff:
As a mayor, a congressman, and my first White House chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel has been a tireless and brilliant public servant… Whatever he chooses to do next, I know he’ll continue to make a positive difference, just as he has throughout his career in public service. And Michelle and I wish Rahm and Amy all the best as they consider this next phase in their lives.
But by 2018, and with Obama safely out of office, the “First Black President” scales had finally fallen from the eyes of black Chicago. For example, the black Block Club Chicago cheered Emanuel’s demise, citing his “neglect and disrespect of black and brown communities.”
Finally, Rahm Emanuel is the very definition of, and the poster boy for the terms “neoliberal” and “corporate Democrat.” President-Elect Joe Biden’s pick of Rahm Emanuel for any role in his administration would betray all of the grassroots mobilization, all of the practical political organizing, all of the nose-holding but still recognizing that Biden was probably the only candidate that just enough white people (Democrats, Republicans and “Independents”) would accept as an alternative to the Racist-In-Chief — Donald Trump — …Biden would squander and skip as unnecessary and irrelevant a possible and potentially glorious “honeymoon,” and proceed straight to Divorce Court.