Chicago, Illinois, September 25, 2013 – The largely African American crowd angrily booed Mayor Rahm Emanuel recently at a basketball tournament to combat Chicago’s out-of control violence. Not that the incident was reported in Chicago media.
Not a headline in sight.
Which begs the question: Is the Chicago media protecting Rahm?
Emanuel has been in damage control mode since the mass shootings of thirteen people in Cornell Square Park put Chicago violence back in the national headlines on September 20. A 3 year-old boy was among the victims.
But are Rahmbo’s attempts at damage control helping or hurting his image?
One recent stop on Emanuel’s face-saving tour was the Annual St. Sabina Peace Basketball Tournament where rival gang members battled on the courts, not the streets.
But not even the presence of activist priest Fr. Michael Pfleger and NBA greats Isaiah Thomas and Derek Rose could shield Emanuel from the angry boos and nasty catcalls from the crowd; the mayor’s perceived indifference to the escalating violence and the mass closings of Chicago Public Schools in favor of for-profit charter schools, courtesy of Rahm’s donors, has not earned him any brownie points in the black community.
It got ugly. Really ugly.
With the mass school closings, kids in troubled areas now require guards to escort them to alternate schools along safe passage routes through gang-infested areas. If a fatal shooting were to take place here, Emanuel knows his public image would never recover.
Emanuel’s angry reception was an expression of frustration and outrage, one that does not bode well for his hopes of a second Chicago mayoral term.
Emanuel was not even in Chicago at the time of the Cornell Square shootings; he was in Washington, DC with plans to appear at a fundraiser for Cory Booker’s campaign for U.S. Senate in New Jersey.
Appearing on CBS in early September, Emanuel laughed off David Letterman’s statement, “I wanna hear about Chicago, people say ‘Oh, don’t go to Chicago, the violence is unbelievable.’”
Last week, the FBI named Chicago the murder capital of America. Chicago homicides hit the 500 mark in 2012, surpassing New York, despite having one-third of the Big Apple’s population. Chicago has already clocked more than 300 homicides in 2013.
Chicago’s epidemic of violence is no laughing matter.
Emanuel’s divided national-local focus and perceived indifference is part of the problem. Voters know he isn’t focused on Chicago. And they question whether he really cares about the city, its people, and their problems.
Is being Chicago’s mayor just a stepping stone to higher office? Back in February, Democrat sources said that Emanuel was “toying” with the idea of a 2016 presidential run. Of course, he denied the rumors.
But perception is perception. Every presidential wannabe “denies” the rumors after leaking the rumor in the first place.
Emanuel can say he “inherited the mess” but voters hold him responsible for the city’s problems. Insiders speculate: How much further will Emanuel’s poll numbers slip?
According to a WGN/Tribune poll conducted in May, showed 50 percent approve of the job Emanuel is doing. But disapproval of his job performance is at 40 percent — up from 29 percent from last year.
More African-American voters also disapprove of Emanuel’s job performance than approve, 48 percent to 40 percent. One year ago, 44 percent of black voters approved of Emanuel’s job as mayor while only one-third disapproved.
Emanuel’s poll numbers indicate the Mayor’s only problem with African Americans and other traditional voting blocks of the Democrat machine. He has a perception problem that is getting worse, not better.
Despite the city’s problems, including another Moody’s downgrade of Chicago’s debt, Emanuel’s campaign coffers continue to bloat from wealthy corporate political interests, brother Arie Emanuel’s entertainment honchos, and other connected out-of-state donors.
A new book by Kari Lydersen, “Mayor 1%: Rahm Emanuel and the Rise of Chicago’s 99%,” put an unflattering elitist spotlight on his Administration.
Emanuel’s “1%” moniker does not sit well with a progressive town like Chicago or African American voters who, with the help of liberal white voters, vaulted Harold Washington, Chicago’s first black mayor, into City Hall’s Fifth Floor office.
In contrast to Emanuel, Washington was dubbed “The People’s Mayor.” And it was a moniker that ensured Washington’s re-election in 1987.
After all, Illinois is not a red state and Chicago is not a red kind-of-town.
Come the 2015 elections, Chicago may not be Mayor 1%’s kind of town either.
William J. Kelly is an Emmy award-winning TV producer and conservative columnist. He is also a contributor to the American Spectator and Breitbart.com. He is a native from
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