Here’s something the far left and the far right will agree on during the NATO summit: Mayor Rahm Emanuel is trying to suppress free speech.
Anti-NATO demonstrators are already planning to appeal Administrative Law Judge Raymond Prosser’s decision to uphold Emanuel’s refusal to issue a permit for a march through the Loop on May 20, the first day of the NATO summit.
The right wing will also be watching Chicago that week. It won’t be because they agree with the protestors. They don’t. But they’ll be looking for examples of Emanuel suppressing dissent, which they will then attempt to attach to President Obama. Remember the Republican National Committee’s 2008 TV ad about "The Chicago Way"? Remember how the right wing tried to link him to Tony Rezko, Bill Daley and Bill Ayers? If marchers are manhandled outside the NATO summit, conservatives will howl that it’s another example of “Chicago thug politics,” practiced by Obama’s handpicked mayor.
Last week, an NBC5 photographer was arrested outside a hospital by an officer who told him, “Your First Amendment rights can be terminated.” The incident generated this response on the conservative website Townhall.com: “This is Obama’s Chicago. Is this the world you want to live in? Then go ahead and vote for the Dictator.” And this one: “This is Obama’s Chicago where The One cut his political teeth. Very sad.”
Obama is much more closely connected to Emanuel than Hubert Humphrey was to Richard J. Daley in 1968. Mayor Daley a political force all his own, more powerful than the vice president of the United States.
No one is expecting another police riot, but any arrests the police make, any attempt to stop the filming of those arrests, and any interference with journalists will not just reflect on Rahm Emanuel and Chicago. Those actions will reflect on the president, too.