David Sirota had better not get within pointing distance of Rahm Emanuel. He might get a finger stuck in his chest.
In a column that appeared Friday on Salon.com, Sirota singled out Emanuel as a member of “America’s dangerously removed elite,” charging that he and other wealthy politicians don’t find it necessary to support public education because they can afford to send their own children to private schools.
(Sirota lived in Chicago in the late 1990s, getting his start in politics as a research director for state Sen. Howard Carroll’s unsuccessful congressional campaign.)
Sirota begins by noting that it is de riguer for Washington politicians to send their children to the private Sidwell Friends School, which Malia and Sasha Obama attend. (Before that, they attended the private University of Chicago Laboratory School, where Emanuel now sends his children.) Then, he attacks Emanuel directly.
Outside of Washington, it’s often the same story; as just two recent examples, both Republican New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel have championed massive cuts to public education while sending their kids to private school.
In many cases, these aristocrats aren’t even required to publicly explain themselves...Worse, on the rare occasions that questions are posed, privacy is the oft-used excuse to not answer, whether it’s Obama defenders dismissing queries about their Sidwell decision, Christie telling a voter his school choices are “none of your business” or Emanuel storming out of a television interview and then citing his “private life” when asked about the issue.
This might be a convincing argument about ordinary citizens’ personal education choices, but it’s an insult coming from public officials. When they remove themselves and their families from a community — but still retain power over that community — they end up acting as foreign occupiers, subjecting us to policies they would never subject their own kin to.
The “massive cuts” to which Sirota refers to the $75 million Emanuel’s school board cut from “non-classroom” budgets last year. Critics said it would lead to longer bus rides and dirtier classrooms. The television interview, of course, was with NBC5’s Mary Ann Ahern, who gave all journalists a lesson in what happens when you criticize Emanuel’s educational choices.
That’s why I’m saying Sirota should keep his distance from the mayor.
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