There’s a term for right-wing obsessives who refuse to believe that President Obama is an American citizen. They’re called Birthers. Now, we need a term for Rahm Emanuel-hating obsessives who refuse to believe the former White House Chief of Staff is a Chicago resident. I suggest “Renters.”
The leader of the Renters is attorney Burt Odelson, an advisor to Rev. James Meeks who plans to file a lawsuit this week challenging Emanuel’s right to run for mayor, on the grounds that he hasn’t lived in Chicago for a year.
Odelson will be filing on behalf of ordinary citizens. He can’t file it himself, because he doesn’t live in Chicago. He lives in Evergreen Park.
The crux of Odelson’s argument is that Emanuel surrendered his residency by renting out his house.
“Renting his house is going to knock him out,” Odelson told Fox News Chicago. “Something that the president did not do. The president is qualified to run for mayor of the city of Chicago, but Mr. Emanuel is not …The law says you have to be able to sleep somewhere, wear your clothes, where’s your toothbrush, where your kids go to school, where your car’s registered.”
Emanuel left his bed in Chicago, but according to Odelson, the bed is “part of the house,” because “you have to remove the roof to get it out.”
This is an obnoxious argument, for two reasons.
First, Obama couldn’t have rented his house. The Secret Service would never have allowed it. Second, most people who leave town on business for an extended can’t afford to maintain an empty house here. They have to rent, or sublet. That doesn’t mean they don’t intend to come home. I hate to make Emanuel a test case for the equal protection of rich and poor, since he’s a multimillionaire, and could have afforded not to rent. But Odelson’s lawsuit would disqualify most Chicagoans who go out of town for even a few months.
Odelson believes his case will go all the way to the Supreme Court. I’m sure Emanuel will end up on the ballot. He’s got too much clout to be disqualified on a technicality. That only happens to independents and other losers with no connections. But in the meantime, Meeks will look like the bully who’s trying to muscle a candidate out of the race. And isn’t that supposed to be Emanuel’s role in this race? It’s not easy to make Rahm Emanuel look like a sympathetic victim, but Meeks and Odelson have found a way.