Ward Room
Covering Chicago's nine political influencers

Rahm Emanuel, International Mayor of Mystery

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Mayor Rahm Emanuel is excited to show off Chicago when the Windy City hosts both NATO and the G8 Summit in spring 2012. (Published Wednesday, Jun 22, 2011)

    This is why you elected Rahm Emanuel, Chicago.

    Because he’s a man who can pick up the phone and order up gatherings of boring men in suits. For the first time since it happened in London in 1978, NATO and the G-8 will meet in the same city. And it’s an even bigger deal this time, because during the Cold War, the G-8 was only the G-7.

    “It’s a message internationally of why Chicago’s on the move,” Emanuel gloated at a press conference. “It’s a place to invest.”

    It’s also a message locally that Emanuel is a mayor whose reach extends beyond the city. According to Sun-Times' three-dot columnist Michael Sneed, “Emanuel personally corralled President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and White House Chief of Staff Bill Daley to set the location.”

    Emanuel is already proving more successful at bringing the world to Chicago than his predecessor, whose failure to land the Olympics ended his political career.

    Give Richard M. Daley credit for recognizing that Chicago needed to become a world city in order to thrive. He dispatched trade missions to France and Japan. Daley’s father, who reigned during the era when American industry was supreme, hadn’t thought it necessary to court business from the rest of the world.

    Since the Columbian Exposition of 1893, Chicago has been recognized as a great American city, but we haven’t been able to make the leap to world-class. It’s tough for an inland city, but if it’s going to happen, it’s going to happen now.

    Our own Barack Obama is the most international president in this country’s history. He’s also the first big-city president since Theodore Roosevelt, so he has an unusual opportunity to promote his hometown. Obama, who always wanted to be mayor himself, will do whatever he can to help Emanuel bring attention to Chicago.

    Just because he came back home doesn’t mean Emanuel has given up the idea that he’s a player on the world stage. 

    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!