- - Tuesday, March 3, 2015

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Rahm Emanuel was born in Chicago and has been a very favorite son. The Daley machine sent him to Congress, where he was a faithful liege of Bill Clinton, was President Obama’s first chief of staff, got rich working his connections to Wall Street, joined the looting of the federal housing program and returned to his hometown to be elected mayor in 2012. Mr. Emanuel once described his job as mayor as the culmination of a lifelong dream, and said, “I’m loving doing this.”

That was then and this is now, and he might not be loving it quite so much. He’s at war with the teachers union and other entrenched special interests, and cleaning up what’s wrong at City Hall isn’t as much fun as he once thought it would be. He has gone along to get along with the crony capitalists who have looted the city’s treasury and provided the ground troops who make the machine work. Last week the city’s bond rating was downgraded and it seems on the way to junk status. Worst of all, hizzoner didn’t get the 50 percent of the primary vote needed to avoid a runoff.

Missing the 50 percent mark was quite a perverse accomplishment in a city that has for a century been run by a machine relying on the dead and the non-existent to remain in power. But he did it. He spent $16 million, four times as much as his four opponents combined, got the president of the United States to fly out to Chicago to campaign for him and still won only 45 percent of the vote. The result was all the more remarkable considering that his major opponent, the head of the teachers union he had been fighting, withdrew from the race for medical reasons, and endorsed Jesus “Chuy” Garcia, a county commissioner and former alderman and state senator who has been a part of the leftist anti-machine reform wing of Chicago’s Democratic organization.

Mr. Garcia and his friends have been putting together a machine of their own. He is a sort of “community organizer” and he has the backing of the usual labor and left-wing suspects. This is a collection of radicals and liberals similar to the coalition that elected Bill de Blasio in New York City. Mr. Emanuel is a politician not always easy to love, arrogant and self-aggrandizing and a spoiled child of the Clinton years and Obama World who fits neatly with the politicians who make pretty speeches and get rich at taxpayers expense.

The folks who ran the Chicago machine before Mr. Emanuel knew the machine required careful attention, but he has let the machine rattle and clank as if it needs a new universal joint, a ring and valve job and new tires. The dead folks didn’t want to ride this year and the voter turnout was the lowest that the old-timers could remember. He’ll need to canvass every graveyard in town between now and the April 7 runoff. Chicago being Chicago, Mr. Emanuel is still the favorite, and Mr. Garcia looks like the cure worse than the disease. Happy days are clearly not here again.

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