Long before Mayor Richard M. Daley decided to retire, Rahm Emanuel was positioning himself as the next mayor of Chicago. He was creating his own brand. Rahm is no longer just a candidate. Rahm is a brand. A household name. The dominant brand in the race. He is forcing everyone else to try harder.
Rahm’s only real quality is positioning and branding, whether it is for others, such as the president, or himself. He created the persona of a foul mouthed tough guy who looks like a skinny geek. He demonstrated being utterly ruthless has its rewards. He cared not about the consequences. This is Rahm’s major flaw. Being elected mayor may be his biggest mistake.
Rahm is discounting the political power vacuum Daley is leaving behind. History will repeat itself. The city council will be his real nemesis. The council will once again emerge as a force to be reckoned with. Just like Harold Washington’s first term in office. Council wars will erupt. It is all about power and control. Once again, there is no strong party chairman to control the system. Berrios, the Democratic Chairman is a puppet of Madigan and Daley. He holds no power in his own right. He has no control. It was intended to be that way. With Daley gone he will be lost.
Ed Burke is emerging as the sole political power in the city. He has held enough quiet power for years, but now he is the face and the force to be reckoned with. With Daley gone, he will bow to no one. Rahm is the interloper. If he does become mayor, he is going to have a very bumpy ride. Burke and his allies do not care about popularity, especially Rahms. Popularity is not power. Rahm is popular. Burke is powerful. Burke also has allies and the ability to work with enemies for a common cause. The common cause will be a strong city council and a weak mayor. Rahm is positioning himself to be the whipping boy of the city council.
Rahm has the brand cachet and may be the front runner. If he stays on the ballot he may win. But, he is holding aces and eights against Burke’s royal flush. Ed Burke has patiently waited a very long time to come into his own. He will step aside for no one.
The result will be turmoil. The only ones who will suffer are the people. We will pay for this folly. Just like we are paying for it now.