- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 7, 2010

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Demand a recount. We’re talking about Chicago, where “how many votes ya got” often depends on “how many votes ya need.” The question at hand is whether a nonresident like Rahm Emanuel, late of the Obama White House, can pirouette into town (like the dance student he once was) and get his finger around the levers of machine power that anoints Chicago’s mayors. In a volatile year like this, almost anything could happen.

One challenge comes from another nonresident, one with far deeper and more distinguished familial roots in Chicago. On the facing page, American Spectator impresario R. Emmett Tyrrell Jr. explains why he has tossed his hat into the ring.

Mr. Tyrrell is known for satire, and he no doubt enjoys reawakening echoes of conservative writer William F. Buckley Jr.’s 1965 campaign for mayor of New York. Back then, Mr. Buckley puckishly said he would “demand a recount” if he actually won. In Chicago, on the other hand, the machine is known for not stopping vote counting until the right result is reached. Mr. Emanuel is a creature of that machine, having served as chief fundraiser for Richard M. Daley’s first successful run for mayor in 1989.

Mr. Tyrrell is throwing some wrenches into the machinery. His primary argument is that the law shouldn’t be trampled for any man, even if his previous stop was in a foyer of the Oval Office. If Mr. Emanuel doesn’t qualify as a resident under local election laws, he should no more be allowed to put his name on the ballot than to play shortstop at Wrigley Field. Mr. Tyrrell insists the nation’s “Second City” should be free of the machine politics not just of the Daleys, but also of disgraced former Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich, who purportedly had a deal-making hot line to Mr. Emanuel’s desk.

Even cities that supposedly work, such as Chicago, could use some new, politically conservative thinking to help cure inner-city social ills. Would-be Mayor Tyrrell vows to pursue policies informed by the most energetic minds of the modern age, such as former American Spectator contributors Milton Friedman and Edward C. Banfield, who argued that ordered liberty - not government largesse - is the key to relieving urban poverty. These principles have been borne out in practice, as when the poverty rate fell during the seven years after free-market Reaganomics was adopted. The same cannot be said for the troubled era of Speaker Nancy Pelosi and President Obama, during which Mr. Emanuel served as chief choreographer.

If Mr. Tyrrell can elucidate these issues on the campaign trail, Chicago will be better off. If his tacit challenge to Mr. Emanuel’s eligibility for office can help put the Emanuel campaign - like dead fish - into the garbage, Mr. Tyrrell will have accomplished a real public service.

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