Hey, Chicago Politicians—Want to Get Close to Rahm? Take the Plunge - NBC Chicago
Ward Room
Covering Chicago's nine political influencers

Hey, Chicago Politicians—Want to Get Close to Rahm? Take the Plunge

Tonight Show host to jump in lake with Mayor for charity



    One thing’s for sure about Jimmy Fallon’s decision to do the Polar Plunge with Rahm Emanuel on Sunday: He’s going to get a few minutes of the Mayor’s unguarded time and attention while they’re both standing waist deep in freezing water.

    And, in this town, that’s a rare commodity. Which got us thinking: maybe jumping into cold Lake Michigan with the mayor would be a good way for some local politicians frozen out of Rahm’s inner circle to get his ear for a moment.

    Emanuel agreed to take part in the Chicago Polar Plunge—the annual dip into Lake Michigan that benefits the Special Olympics—after challenging the city's school children to read two million books last summer.

    In response to Fallon’s offer for the Mayor to appear on “The Tonight Show”, Emanuel said he would only do so if Fallon would jump into the lake with him. Fallon agreed, changing his Twitter name to #SwimmyFallon for the event.

    Which has to make a whole lot of Chicago politicians jealous.

    Think about it. There’s Jimmy. There’s Rahm. Both immersed in freezing water, laughing, joking and having a good time. A crowd of people around them, shivering their tails off. A beach lined with camera crews and Chicagoans, watching their every move, trying to get in on the fun.

    At that moment, Jimmy could ask the Mayor for whatever he wants. What’s Rahm going to say—no? After all, the guy flew all the way out from New York to jump in a freezing lake. Going on the Tonight Show is the least of the ways Rahm can pay him back.

    I’ll tell you—if I was a Chicago alderman not named say, Ed Burke, I would have signed up to do the Polar Plunge the minute I knew Rahm was going to be there. And when the day came, I would work my way right to the front of the line, to make sure I was next to the Mayor when the jump into the lake actually happened.

    And then, when we both came back up, gasping for air from the freezing water, or when we were running onto the beach—Blam! I would have turned to him and said “Mr. Mayor, I have a question for you.”

    What’s he going to do—say no?

    The thing is, I’d have to come up with the right question to ask for the occasion. Nothing too big, nothing to complex. Nothing about pensions, or school closures, or crime rates. Nothing about why Rahm needs $6.2 million in campaign funds when he might not even have a serious challenger to his reelection.

    Just one simple question that that I knew the Mayor would have a hard time refusing.

    “Mr. Mayor, “ I’d say. “If I changed my name to Jimmy Fallon, any chance you’d take my phone call one day?”