>REACT: Congressman Rahm Emanuel defends Mayor Daley

>Having witnessed Congressman Rahm Emanuel’s (D-Ill) vote of confidence speech for scandal-ridden Mayor Richard Daley, I have to say he is a brilliant defense attorney — having honed his skills as a top aide to President Clinton, no doubt.

He spoke eloquently of a mayor so attuned to details that he personally could deal with traffic congestion at six corners and specific need for a new neighborhood park. Of course, that is the mayor we have all come to know.

Methinks, however, that Emanuel damned the mayor by great praise. So compelling was his recitation of the mayor’s intimate knowledge of all that is Chicago that I became convinced such a micromanager could not have been, at best, unaware of, or at worst, culpable for the pandemic scandals surfacing like sky rockets at Grant Park on the Fourth of July.

Though exquisite in style, Emanuel’s “argument to the jury” fell short.

First, many of the cited accomplishments were refutable, such as when he spoke of Daley leading to a secession of racial politics and tension or holding the line on property taxes.

Secondly, Emanuel’s case for a schizophrenic mayor – the micromanager and ultimate decision maker on “issues” and the mindless, inattentive executive who “outsourced” politics – is not sustainable. There is no separation between “issues” and “politics” any more than one can separate “conception” and “implementation.” Also, these scandals are not the singular result of an errant worker, a freelance corrupt official. This is wide spread institutional corruption manage by, and for the benefit of, the political machine by his closest allies and family members.

The fact that virtually everyone knows how “the system” works in Chicago makes it impossible for the political scion — reared in “the system” and promoted by his manipulations of “the system” — to be oblivious. He has been forewarned about “the system” by past scandals that served as foreboding tremors of the coming earthquake. Editorialist, community activists and friends have repeatedly pointed to the sleaze beneath the polished civic image. Accepting the mayor as oblivious would only damn him to being remarkably inept and dangerously incompetent.

For such massive corruption to occur, top management cannot be oblivious. Management creates the culture. Underlings not only do as the boss “says,” but what they know the boss wants. For the mayor to say he never told anyone to do anything illegal is inadequate. Minimally, he apparently never told any one to stop it.

In the final analysis, Emanuel’s speech in the court of public opinion is irrelevant. Public opinion will not change the course of events. The fate of the mayor rests in his own culpability, if there be such, and the skills of the U.S. Attorney. Like bridge, I suspect the cards are mostly dealt. It is only for us bystanders to see how they are played out.

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