Not so much a review of the book, since this is not a literary site, but a reaction to Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s reaction to the scatological parody. The mayor showed up at author Dan Sinker’s release party at The Hideout on Tuesday, where he hung out for an hour, autographing copies.
When Emanuel appeared with Sinker on WLS’s Roe & Roeper, he told the author that there were times during the campaign that @MayorEmanuel’s tweets reflected candidate Emanuel’s feelings “exactly.” But @MayorEmanuel isn’t good for Mayor Emanuel because it portrays his inner feeling accurately (if, in fact, it does). The book is good for the mayor’s image because it turns him into a lovable cartoon character, with a talking duck, a dog, an intern and a mustachioed political consultant as sidekicks for his adventures. Not even Emanuel would call himself “lovable.” It also invented a conflict between Emanuel’s private feelings and the public role he is expected to play as a politician -- and “conflicted” is another term that doesn’t suit the mayor well.
Like the best superhero movies, @MayorEmanuel created an origin story for Rahm: like Batman, Emanuel returned from a journey in a foreign land where he recieved training to fight his foes. He brought his skills to bear on a whole new set of (political) enemies who witnessed his emergence as a superhero politician -- he even glimpses an alternate reality with Mayor Daley.
Most politicians would not have embraced such a profane feed, but Emanuel rivals Lyndon Johnson as a master of employing profanity for political gain, and he understood its effectiveness here. The f-bombs lent a patina of alternative edginess to a project that, deep down, was as affectionate a piece of propaganda as a poster of Joseph Stalin accepting roses from children. They certainly helped real Emanuel connect to the young professionals who check Twitter on their iPhones every 20 minutes. They voted for him in droves and mingled with him at The Hideout.
The book won’t be officially released until next Tuesday, but it’s already selling well on Amazon -- better than a critical biography of Emanuel would. Sinker, who used to be the editor of the underground magazine Punk Planet and is now a professor at Columbia College, has discovered a secret that courtiers have known for millennia: it’s much more lucrative to flatter the king than to rail from outside the castle walls.
Buy this book! Ward Room blogger Edward McClelland's book, Young Mr. Obama: Chicago and the Making of a Black President , is available Amazon. Young Mr. Obama includes reporting on President Obama's earliest days in the Windy City, covering how a presumptuous young man transformed himself into presidential material. Buy it now!