Is the White House tough guy about to leave town?

Rahm Emanuel, President Barack Obama’s famously fierce and foul-mouthed chief of staff, has a sudden opportunity to run for a job back home that he’s confessed to coveting for a long time — mayor of Chicago.

Emanuel hasn’t announced his plans, but Obama’s most senior advisor is already endorsing him.

David Axelrod told CBS Radio that Emanuel would be “a great mayor because he’s a larger than life personality, a personality who loves the city. He’s not afraid to make decisions and to tackle hard problems.”

A promising ballet dancer in his teens, Emanuel at age 50 still has the lean build that once got him a spot on People Magazine‘s list of the world’s most beautiful people.

He’s also still got the nickname “Rahmbo,” after the 1980s Sylvester Stallone screen character. The lore that surrounds him suggests he’s earned it.


As a teenager, he sliced off part of his middle finger working at a restaurant. He didn’t seek medical attention until the wound got so infected that part of the finger had to be amputated.

With only half a middle finger, Emanuel could no longer make a particular rude gesture familiar in many countries. Years later, Obama joked that it “rendered him practically mute”.

It’s no coincidence that Emanuel and many others in the administration — from the president on down — began their political careers in Chicago.

The city is famous for its take-no-prisoners politics and also the dynasty that dominated them. The late mayor Richard J Daley held office for 21 years. His son Richard M Daley has been mayor for 21 years as well and was expected to seek re-election again, until he surprised the city this week with plans to retire.

With Obama slumping in opinion polls and Democrats looking ahead with dread to Congressional elections now less than eight weeks away, Emanuel’s departure could help the president make a new start, midway through his once-promising term. The timing could be good for all concerned.

Chicago’s election is just six months away and nominations close even sooner, in November. That makes it a sudden sprint that could favour a well-known candidate who could gather campaign money and support quickly.

Rahmbo’s reputation in Washington is that he’ll do anything to win. The best guess is that he wants to run and win in Chicago.

Subscribe to the M&G

These are unprecedented times, and the role of media to tell and record the story of South Africa as it develops is more important than ever.

The Mail & Guardian is a proud news publisher with roots stretching back 35 years, and we’ve survived right from day one thanks to the support of readers who value fiercely independent journalism that is beholden to no-one. To help us continue for another 35 future years with the same proud values, please consider taking out a subscription.

Related stories

Businesses should use alternative energy sources, industry bodies advise

Business associations are urging companies to continue seeking alternative energy sources in light of Eskom’s court judgement which would allow the utility to bump up electricity prices up to 15% from next year April 2021.

Trump gives TikTok 6 weeks to sell itself to US company

China's foreign ministry pushed back, calling Washington hypocritical for demanding TikTok be sold

Black Lives Matter – turning point at a historic moment

The protests that have taken place in the United States confront the racialised edifice that built the modern world

Kamaru Usman: Never-ending Nigerian Nightmare

Kamaru Usman has become the dominant force in mixed martial arts

The new ‘invisible enemy’

Anti-racism and political contagion from Save Darfur to Black Lives Matter

Mask rules are not meant to ‘criminalise’ the public

Shop owners and taxi drivers can now refuse entry to people who defy mandatory mask-wearing regulations
Advertising

New education policy on gender violence released

Universities and other higher education institutions have to develop ways of preventing or dealing with rape and other damaging behaviour

Cambridge Food Jozini: Pandemic or not, the price-gouging continues

The Competition Commission has fined Cambridge Food Jozini for hiking the price of its maize meal during April

Sekhukhune’s five-year battle for water back in court

The residents of five villages are calling for the district municipal manager to be arrested

Vaccine trial results due in December

If successful, it will then have to be manufactured and distributed
Advertising

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…

The best local and international journalism

handpicked and in your inbox every weekday