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Mayor Gives D.C. a Kiss, and a Finger

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Mayor Gives D.C. a Kiss, and a Finger

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If Mayor Rahm Emanuel has something important to say, he’s not going to waste his time with local or niche publications. He's going to say it to a national audience.

Last week, Emanuel appeared on Good Morning America with George Stephanopoulos, one of his old compatriots from the Clinton White House. The two friends had this exchange.

STEPHANOPOULOS: You know, if you do a good job here, a lot of Democrats are going to be talking about you to run for President in 2016.

EMANUEL: I got a job to do here and that’s all I’m focused on.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Never think about it?

EMANUEL: You know my wife. No. [Laughs]

On Inauguration Day, a reporter with Politico.com, a politics blog from D.C., asked Emanuel if he planned to run for president. They got a much less respectful response. The mayor called it “the stupidest question I’ve ever heard,” and gave the reporter the finger, the report said. Actually, he gave him half a finger, so that mitigated the insult.

Also last week, Emanuel wrote an Op-Ed defending President Obama’s policy of Israel. Obama has been taking heat from the Israel lobby for suggesting the country should return to its pre-1967 borders, so he needed to find a Jewish friend to back him. The article did not appear in the Tribune or the Sun-Times. It appeared in the Washington Post. To be fair, that was Emanuel’s local paper for the last few years.

It was the same during the campaign. Emanuel gave a five-minute phone interview to the Chicago Reader, but found time for lunch with Newsweek, GQ, and The New York Times Magazine. One reason I voted for Gery Chico was that Chico returned my phone calls.

Emanuel is a national figure, who can command a national audience. But he’s going to have to make nice with the Chicago media, because one day, when his chance at being president has passed, we’re all he’ll have. There’s no way the American people will elect two consecutive Chicago Democrats. The “Chicago politician” label never stuck to Obama, partly because he wasn’t raised here, partly because he never held a municipal office.

But Rahm can't separate himself from Chicago, so he ought to talk directly to us.

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!

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