Three days after the Chicago Tribune published a brutal take-down of Rahm Emanuel -- dubbing the Democratic mayor a "walking personality disorder" -- the conservative-leaning newspaper has posted a fiery response from Emanuel ally David Axelrod.
"I appreciate fair commentary, even when it singes. But I take strong exception to Kristen McQueary's column on Wednesday, a snide and gratuitous screed on the performance of our current mayor," writes Axelrod, former advisor to President Obama and current director of the Institute of Politics at the University of Chicago.
"I've known and worked with Rahm Emanuel for more than 30 years. He is a smart, high-energy, impatient, plain-spoken and very committed leader, whose in-your-face bluntness very much matches the tenor of the town he leads. Sometimes those qualities grate. Most of the time, however, it is his strong-willed nature that leads to progress," says Axelrod, who once covered City Hall for the Trib during his days as a political reporter.
In her eye-popping hit piece, McQueary -- an editorial board member at the paper -- scolded Emanuel for failing to match his sharp-tongued swagger to his political performance since taking office three years ago.
She wrote, "His arrogance is oversized for the record he has amassed. He's beyond bossy. He's a walking personality disorder. But his audacity exceeds his accomplishments. That's a dangerous combination."
The hits kept coming as McQueary issued a seemingly endless laundry list of complaints against the mayor. Among them: Borrowing nearly a billion dollars for infrastructure maintenance; earmarking taxpayer money for a Marriott and sports arena in the South Loop; spending too much dough on bike lines amid a looming pension crisis, and not doing enough to curb the city's endemic violence.
"He has no discernible strategy to rescue the South and West sides from cancerous gang activity and crime," she sniped. "He would rather focus on the well-to-do regions of the city. If one of his drivers plopped him at a South Side intersection, he would need Google Maps to get back home."
Jumping to Emanuel's defense, Axelrod blasts McQueary for omitting "the mayor's vigorous and successful efforts to bring new businesses and thousands of jobs to our city" and trivializing the "politically difficult steps he has taken" on pension reform.
As for her Google Maps quip, Axelrod states that "to suggest that the mayor has been indifferent belies his commitment of police and other resources to the neighborhoods that have become war zones."
He continues: "And if McQueary believes the mayor does not spend time in these neighborhoods, perhaps she should leave Tribune Tower from time to time and travel the city with him."
Meanwhile, McQueary is tweeting up a storm. She appeared on WGN Radio's Bill and Wendy show on Friday, posting beforehand: "I will try not to be snide or gratuitous. But no promises."
She also retweeted a missive from Trib columnist John Kass supporting her for "telling the truth."
There's the truth and then there's referring to someone as a "walking personality disorder" in the city's courtly and supposedly sophisticated newspaper of record.
That's a new level of bold.