Ward Room
Covering Chicago's nine political influencers

Rahm's National Love Affair

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Rahm Emanuel might be the Mayor of Chicago, but he's still a national player.

    Recently, a Bloomberg Businessweek reporter flew in from New York to write another glorifying profile the new Mayor. The Mayor was so enamoured of the piece, he sent it out to his campiagn network via email.

    I particularly liked the portion in which Emanuel is positioned as a fitness buff.

    Rahm Emanuel works out more in a day than the entire International Union of Operating Engineers does in a week. That's why he's kicking the union's behind all over Chicago:

    He gets up often in the middle of the night to check his e-mail and is out of bed at 5:15 a.m. He drinks coffee and scans the morning newspapers on the drive from his apartment near City Hall to the city campus of the University of Illinois. Then he starts his workout.    
    “I’ll give it to you if you are really that interested,” the 51-year-old mayor of Chicago says, sitting in a City Hall conference room one day in late June. “Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, I swim a mile in a 50-meter pool. I do a short chest exercise. Then I run two miles home. Tuesday and Thursday, I do 25 miles on the bike on random level 15, 15 minutes on the elliptical. You don’t want to know this, but I do 100 sit-ups, 50 push-ups, and a weight routine. Saturday, I bike 20 miles outdoors.”
    On Sundays, Emanuel attends a yoga class, to undo the side effects of his running and biking.

    By the time you read this, Emanuel will be in better shape than you. Because Emanuel … can … not … relax. He’s as highly strung as Walter Sobchak from The Big Lebowski, but unlike Walter, he doesn’t work out all that aggression by bowling. He works it out by… working out.

    The rest of the piece portrays Emanuel as a man cleaning up the financial mess left by Richard M. Daley, specifically by taking on the unions Daley was afraid to confront. The author, Devin Leonard, blames rising public employee salaries for Chicago’s budget deficit, and writes that after selling off all the city’s assets, Daley “left his successor the unenviable choice of raising taxes or slashing spending to eliminate persistent deficits.”

    Leonard also quotes Republican Rep. Tom Cole, a former colleague of Emanuel’s who admires the mayor’s willingness to take on the unions.

    “He is not a starry-eyed liberal,” says U.S. Representative Tom Cole (R-Okla.), who served with the mayor in Congress and considers him a friend. “He is going to a Democratic constituency and asking them to make sacrifices because it has to happen fiscally. Any rock-ribbed Republican would look at that and think, ‘That’s exactly right.’” 

    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!