Ward Room
Covering Chicago's nine political influencers

Why "Hollywood" Rahm Emanuel Will Lose by Gaining

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Rahm Emanuel may have stolen a nickname right out from under another mayoral candidate,  "Hollywood" Rickey Hendon.

    As Deadline Hollywood gossip Nikki Finke reports, Emanuel will hold a star-studded fund raiser for his mayoral campaign in L.A. 

     “I’ve just learned that five well-known Hollywood Democrats -- David Geffen, Bob Iger, Peter Chernin, Haim Saban, and Ari Emanuel -- are hosting a November 4th fundraiser for Ari’s brother Rahm Emanuel in his bid to become Chicago’s next mayor," Finke reports. "The Hollywood fundraiser will be held at Saban’s palatial Beverly Hills home.”

    Whatever Rahm Emanuel raises at his Hollywood fundraiser, it’ll be worth at least that much money in negative advertising from his opponents, always looking for proof that Emanuel isn’t a “real Chicagoan.”

    Emanuel is a real Chicagoan, but he’s a man of modern Chicago -- the international city whose restaurants are written up in GQ, and whose glass skyscrapers are known worldwide to viewers of The Dark Knight.

    It’s the city that produced the world’s most influential entertainer, Oprah Winfrey, and its most powerful politician, Barack Obama. The city that was a serious contender for the 2016 Olympics. We even have America’s leading metrosexual chef, Rick Bayless.

    Emanuel has also used Chicago as a base for achieving great wealth and power. The way he sees it, he is of Chicago, but he is not limited to Chicago. He has friends in Washington, friends in New York and friends in L.A., as the mayor of one of the world’s great cities should.

    Emanuel’s success may depend on whether Chicagoans are ready to acknowledge they live in a world-class city. Most Chicagoans don’t live in the world-class neighborhoods, but those who do are Emanuel’s base: this weekend, his petition drive will hit the Loop, the North Side and the Northwest Side.

    That was fine when Emanuel was running for Congress, and it would be fine if he were running for the Senate or the presidency. But the mayor has to do more than project an image of Chicago to the rest of the world. He also has to be a symbol of how Chicago sees itself. And much of Chicago still sees itself as guy who grew up in a bungalow and, when you ask where he grew up, says “St. Symphorosa.”

    It’s always been embarrassing to hear Mayor Daley address a national gathering, but we love him here, because he speaks our language, in our Midwestern accent. We still haven’t forgiven Hef for moving the Playboy Mansion to L.A. Sadly, we may prefer a guy like James Belushi, who lives in Hollywood but acts Chicago, to a guy like Emanuel, who lives in Chicago but acts Hollywood.

    We want a mayor more polished than Daley, but we may not be ready for one as slick as Emanuel. After his Hollywood night, he may end up as a Midwestern boy on his own.