Ward Room
Covering Chicago's nine political influencers

Who Should Be Chicago Mayor: Rahm Emanuel or Donald Trump?

Trick question.

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    NEW YORK, NY - MAY 16: Donald Trump attends "All Star Celebrity Apprentice" Red Carpet Event at Trump Tower on May 16, 2013 in New York City. (Photo by Slaven Vlasic/Getty Images)

    We all know the answer to that question, but it felt appropriate to post a headline only slightly less ridiculous than The Donald.

    Here's a better one: Is Donald Trump the best thing to ever happen to Rahm Emanuel's re-election campaign?

    Historically speaking, anyone on the receiving end of a public Trump-lashing appears reasonable in comparison to the brazen real estate baron. Being targeted by the "Celebrity Apprentice" host and race-baiting, conspiracy-spouting crank is something Emanuel has in common with President Barack Obama, Jon Stewart and Rosie O'Donnell. The list goes on. And on. And on.

    All flash, trash and self-promotion, the New York-based tycoon inspires eyerolls if not outright contempt -- no more so than in Chicago, where he has cheapened the famous cityscape, an architectural gem and source of pride here, by plastering T-R-U-M-P in giant, 20-foot letters across his 96-story, inarguably gorgeous riverfront skyscraper.

    Pulitzer Prize-winning Chicago Tribune architecture critic Blair Kamin became a Trump target last week after publishing word that Emanuel thinks the sign is "awful" and wanted it removed.

    "This was started by a third-rate architecture critic for the Chicago Tribune who I thought got fired ... All of a sudden he re-emerges, and to get a little bit of publicity he started this campaign," Trump said Friday in an interview on NBC's "Today." Kamin was never fired --nor did he even leave the paper. 

    Emanuel, meanwhile, declared in press conference that day that he would seek to prevent similar signage in the future.

    Going on a Twitter tear, Trump defended the sign as "magnificent" and beloved by Chicagoans, retweeting fan comments such as this: "you want to do something nice for Chicago and they shoot you down. Piss on Rahm. He is just an Obama lap dog." 

    Thing is, Trump made a decent point when he said the city has the right to enact sign restrictions but argued that "they can't change the rules mid-game." (We have former Mayor Daley to thank for this skyline blister. He approved it in 2009.)

    But any common-sense observation he makes is almost always trumped (pun intended) by a low-blow personal attack, whether it's blasting a decorated media critic as "third-rate" or posting a mean retweet that dubs the mayor of the nation's third-largest city "an Obama lap dog."

    Emanuel might be unpopular in the Windy City, but starting a feud with Trump is a sly way to rally people to his side -- at least on the issue of Vegas-style branding in a low-key town that prizes a less-is-more aesthetic.

    Don't expect The Donald to put down his Swarovski-diamond-encrusted megaphone anytime soon. If you missed it, here's a special Father's Day message:

    And here's Trump on "Today":

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