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Rahm Emanuel and Ben Joravsky of the Chicago Reader used to be such good buddies. Nine years ago, when Emanuel was running for Congress, Joravsky wrote a cover story on him. The Reader was the weekly Bible for the yuppies of the Fifth District, so Emanuel let Joravsky ride around with him in the campaign’s SUV. One morning, over breakfast at the Lincoln Restaurant, Emanuel heard he’d been endorsed by the AFL-CIO. He was so excited he gave Joravsky a noogie.
Emanuel’s so happy he leaps to his feet, embraces me, and rubs his knuckles over my head. “Let me give my new good friend a noogie,” he says.
This year, Joravsky tried to get another interview with Emanuel. His handlers granted five minutes over the phone, with one caveat: don’t ask about tampons. (Emanuel denies the story, reported in Jonathan Alter’s The Promise, that he told a stammering male underling to “pull your f------ tampon out and tell me what you have to say.”)
After a couple minutes of banter about that breakfast at the Lincoln Restaurant, Joravsky got in a few questions about Emanuel’s temper and how he’ll work with the City Council. Then:
I ask him, If he’s so tough, why didn't he ever oppose Mayor Daley on anything?
He says he did—something about a pharmaceutical bill.
I press on, mindful of the clock: I mean on substantive local issues, like the parking meter deal.
“You asked for an example of when I opposed the mayor and I gave it to you.”
“I’ve got to go. Bye-bye.”
Click. Phone dead. The dude hung up on me!
Oh, well, so goes my five minutes with Emanuel. Or 11 minutes and 37 seconds, to be exact. Good God, these poor aldermen don't know what they’re in for.
At least the local press corps knows. Emanuel had coffee at a Greek restaurant with the aforementioned Alter, who rewarded him with a flattering piece in Newsweek that concluded, “Chicago had better get ready to play by Rahm’s rules.” If Emanuel is elected, the Sun-Times and the Tribune are going to be cooling their heels in the hallway while Rahm entertains Time, CNN, The Economist and The New Yorker.
By the way, most of Joravsky’s piece was about Miguel del Valle, who gave him this great quote on Emanuel’s supposed toughness:
“This whole thing about being tough—it’s about personalities and demeanor, it has nothing to do with running a city. What, he’s tough because he swears? I don't swear to people, so I’m not tough? I'm from Humboldt Park. He’s from where—Wilmette, Winnetka? I went to Tuley High, he went to what—New Trier? And Rahm's tougher than me?”