Wednesday, January 06, 2016

Still No Honor Among Thieves

(Mayor Rahm and Governor Kylo Rauner pictured here in happier 
days, just before The Bad Thing Happened)

Longtime readers might remember that before I moved to Central Illinois, I lived in Chicago for +25 years.  While I lived there, I came to know the culture and folkways and deep political weirdness of its charming and exotic people very well and wrote about it often.  So as I watched Mayor Rahm cozy up with his old pal, hedge-fund billionaire and ambulatory Koch Brothers playbook, Bruce Rauner, it was clear to me that Mayor Rahm thought that the rules of political gravity in Illinois somehow still functioned as they did during the high cotton days of Mare Daley -- back when Da Mare operated as a virtual king with a reach that extended all the way to Springfield and who dispensed many different denominations of favors and collected many forms of tributes and loyalties. 

The political currency this system generated was called "clout" -- it was highly fungible and had many uses, not the least of which was a hedge against some unfortunate day when mud was gettin' splashed around, because with enough clout inna bank ain't none'a dat mud gonna splash on da Man on Five at Ciddy Hall.

So having scorched and spent his way to the pinnacle of power in Illinois, when Rahm's fortunes suddenly reversed themselves, it seems clear to me that he expected the rules of the game to remain as they were under Richard the 1st and Richard the 2nd.  One hunkers down, closes ranks and puts up the Clout Signal and eventually some escape plan will emerge from the collective cunning of all the people who are beholden to Hizzoner.

But Mayor Rahm has no ranks to close, no Unsullied army and, as such, no clout.   This goes back to the fact that, as friend-of-this-humble-blog, Rick Perlstein, documented to a fare-thee-well in the New Yorker ("The Sudden But Well-Deserved Fall of Rahm Emanuel") Rahm built his very successful career on 1) glomming on to rich people and hitting them up for money, and 2) bullying and berating everyone else into moving ever further rightward:
But return to Washington in the early nineteen-nineties, when a grateful Clinton awarded his young charge a prominent White House role. There, Emanuel’s prodigious energy, along with his contempt for what he called “liberal theology,” rocketed him higher and higher into the Clinton stratosphere. “He gets things done,” Clinton’s chief of staff, Erskine Bowles, enthused late in 1996, when Emanuel usurped George Stephanopoulos as senior adviser for policy and strategy. Among his special projects was helping to pass the North American Free Trade Agreement and the 1994 crime bill. He also tried to push Clinton to the right on immigration, advising the President, in a memo in November, 1996, to work to “claim and achieve record deportations of criminal aliens.” These all, in the fullness of time, turned out to be mistakes.
As far as my own unscientific assay of his administration goes, the peons below him -- the tens of thousands of working stiffs who make the gears of government go round and round -- would be just as happy to see him sail past their window on his way down to a abrupt and splatty interlude with LaSalle Street.

And as for the Men of Power like Governor Hedgefund whose favor Rahm so assiduously courted?

Brown: Rauner endorses recall bill; 'very disappointed' in Rahm

Fresh from a Saharan Desert holiday where he says he and his family rode camels and slept in tents, Gov. Bruce Rauner did nothing Monday to quell the shifting sands beneath Mayor Rahm Emanuel.

Rauner told reporters he would sign a bill allowing Chicago voters to recall their mayor from office if it reaches his desk.

The governor also said he was “very disappointed” in Emanuel and Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez over their handling of Chicago police misconduct cases.

Perhaps more important, Rauner reiterated that he will stand firm against providing increased financial assistance to Chicago Public Schools until Emanuel and Chicago Democrats help him achieve his legislative goals, even as he predicted that financial “disaster” at CPS is now only months away.
Ruh Roh.

You may already be familiar with the two unbreakable rules of Chicago politics which were famously codified by Ward Committeeman Bernard Neistein back when dinosaurs walked the Earth:
Well right at the moment, Mayor Rahm's thrashing is making a lot of waves and he sure as hell looks like a loser.


Karen Crosby said...

As a former Clinton political appointee who toiled at a banking regulatory agency, I can honestly say that seeing the current mayor of Chicago sailing by my window in Philly on his way down would cause me to grin and inviting family and friends for some drinks and snacks.

Unknown said...

That is some kind of colosssal fuckuppery to manage to position a potentate of the oligarchy, Bruce Rauner, to your LEFT.

Fritz Strand said...

Hey, at least he got you a name.