Maybe Rahm Emanuel needs an anti-bullying campaign, because all the other candidates are pickin’ on him. At last week’s Chicago Tribune endorsement session, Carol Moseley Braun all but waved a tampon in his face as he demanded he explain the phrase, “Take your [bleeping] tampons out,” which he allegedly used to belittle male White House staffers. Miguel del Valle criticized Emanuel for a “Rose Garden strategy” that kept him out of the city’s neighborhoods.
Today, as Emanuel prepared for a visit from President Bill Clinton, both del Valle and Gery Chico held press conferences to talk about their rival’s term on the board of directors of Freddie Mac. Clinton appointed Emanuel to the board in 2000. Emanuel earned $320,000 for his 14 months of service, but was criticized by the Tribune for being a “passive director” who ignored a developing accounting scandal.
“When Rahm Emanuel had the chance to blow the whistle on corrupt activity taking place on the Freddie Mac board, he sat on his hands, looked the other way and took the cash,” Chico said this morning. “It was a character test and Rahm Emanuel failed.”
So why is everyone ganging up on Rahm? It’s not just because Emanuel is the front runner. He’s always been the front runner. But with only four major candidates in the race, his chances of winning in the first round are looking pretty good. So now, Moseley Braun, Chico and del Valle have to pursue a two-pronged strategy: attack their rivals, so they can come in second, while at the same time collaborating with their rivals to attack Emanuel. Because if he gets 50 percent of the vote, they all lose.
Even aldermen who want to see Mayor Emanuel should want to see a runoff, too. The word now is that he’s raised $18 million. If Emanuel wins on Feb. 22, he’s not going to invest that money in government bonds. He’s going to invest that money in power, by spending it in the undecided City Council races. When his candidates win, they’ll be loyal to Rahm Emanuel and Rahm Emanuel alone. It will be the beginning of a new Machine in this town. Rahm’s enemies have to take their shots while they can still get away with it.
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