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.

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. But it comes at a cost. Advertisers are cancelling campaigns, and our live events have come to an abrupt halt. Our income has been slashed.

The Mail & Guardian is a proud news publisher with roots stretching back 35 years. We’ve survived thanks to the support of our readers, we will need you to help us get through this.

To help us ensure another 35 future years of fiercely independent journalism, please subscribe.

Advertising

ConCourt settles the law on the public protector and interim...

The Constitutional Court said it welcomed robust debate but criticised the populist rhetoric in the battle between Busisiwe Mkhwebane and Minister Pravin Gordhan

Small towns not ready for level 3

Officials in Beaufort West, which is on a route that links the Cape with the rest of the country, are worried relaxed lockdown regulations mean residents are now at risk of contracting Covid-19
Advertising

Press Releases

Covid-19 and Back to School Webinar

If our educators can take care of themselves, they can take care of the children they teach

5G technology is the future

Besides a healthcare problem Covid-19 is also a data issue and 5G technology, with its lightning speed, can help to curb its spread

JTI off to court for tobacco ban: Government not listening to industry or consumers

The tobacco ban places 109 000 jobs and 179 000 wholesalers and retailers at risk — including the livelihood of emerging farmers

Holistic Financial Planning for Professionals Webinar

Our lives are constantly in flux, so it makes sense that your financial planning must be reviewed frequently — preferably on an annual basis

Undeterred by Covid-19 pandemic, China and Africa hold hands, building a community of a shared future for mankind

It is clear that building a community with a shared future for all mankind has become a more pressing task than ever before

Wills, Estate Administration and Succession Planning Webinar

Capital Legacy has had no slowdown in lockdown regarding turnaround with clients, in storing or retrieving wills and in answering their questions

Call for Expression of Interest: Training supply and needs assessment to support the energy transition in South Africa

GIZ invites eligible and professional companies with local presence in South Africa to participate in this tender to support the energy transition

Obituary: Mohammed Tikly

His legacy will live on in the vision he shared for a brighter more socially just future, in which racism and discrimination are things of the past

The best local and international journalism

handpicked and in your inbox every weekday