Is The Chicago Machine Coming To Washington?

12/08/2008 05:12 am 05:12:01 | Updated May 25, 2011

I hope people outside of Chicago don't assume that President-elect Barack Obama has a lot in common with Congressman Rahm Emanuel just because he selected him to be his White House chief of staff.

Yes, yes, I know -- they're both allies of Chicago's mayor, Richard M. Daley. But don't read too much into that. With the exception of a few political oddballs and misfits, almost everyone around here is part of Daley's team. They really have no choice. For better or worse, Daley controls the schools, parks, and police, not to mention hundreds of pay rollers and billions of property-tax dollars. If you want a zoning change, building permit, or a business license, you have to go to Daley, or at least to people he has appointed or hired. The attitude in Chicago is you can't beat him -- so you might as well succumb.

For the most part, Mayor Daley's rather benevolent about his power. At least, he believes in being inclusive. Blacks, whites, Asians, Hispanics, gays, even country-club Republicans -- they're all welcome to kiss his ring. His only requirement is abject obedience.

The key to understanding the differences between Emanuel and Obama is to analyze the circumstances under which they joined Daley's team.

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