How many "Chicago Guys" do you know who could leave their jobs without having been hired for another one of equal or better pay?
And how many people could make that move in this economic environment with three school age children at home?
Rahm Emanuel, who made his millions during four years (1998-2002) as a private sector investment banker, has to convince working class Chicagoans he "feels their pain" when he launches his campaign for mayor with a "tell it like it is" tour this week.
Emanuel--named President Barack Obama's Chief of Staff shortly after "The Great Recession" began-- has less than five months to connect with city voters, most of whom live in neighborhoods ravaged by unemployment, crime, foreclosures, underfunded schools, cops who don't come quickly enough, declining city services, and a privatized parking disaster to boot (pun intended).
Emanuel, as expected, declined all requests for media interviews after his elaborate East Room sendoff at the White House Friday. By mid-day Saturday, the website chicagoforrahm.com was up and running and Sunday, the Rahmster appeared on it with a video message, once again bypassing reporters to communicate directly with the voters.
What we've seen during the past two weeks are signs that Emanuel will use "new media" to eschew the ward bosses who control Chicago politics "on the ground". It also appears that his most important contacts with local print and broadcast media will occur in the advertising sales departments of those outlets as opposed to their newsrooms.
I know that politicians like to "control their message". But if this is an indication of how Emanuel plans to run his mayoral campaign and/or how he would run the nation's third largest city, he already is raising concern among Chicago journalists.
Think about it: Emanuel made his ambition to run for mayor of Chicago public last April and still has not allowed any reporters in the city to interview him publicly on the subject.
Mayor Richard M. Daley has been a tough cover for two decades but none of us will say that Daley did not make himself available.
"Change" You Can See
Just one other note about Emanuel's sendoff Friday at the White House.
The East Room was filled with about 200 people, including most of the Cabinet Secretaries, to see and hear the President thank his outgoing chief of staff and introduce Emanuel's replacement Peter Rouse. The audience included most of the people who work in The West Wing and other top staffers who literally run the executive branch of the U.S. Government.
The diversity--male, female, people of every ethnicity you could imagine--was a sight to behold.
America--at the White House--looks more like itself than at anytime in history!