On Monday the gentleman from Illinois/Washington began shaking hands at the transit stops, kissing babies, and I suppose visiting pulpits and hosting neighborhood community meetings as well. The line-up is textbook, campaign perfection. Good imagery. It all seems pre-planned. Mr. Rahm Emanuel began talking about the Fifth Floor months ago, as if to set the stage for what will be an historic run.
However, Emanuel did not return to Chicago's open arms.
Although he has an address on a local street, the sentiment is that Rahm is an "outsider" because he left.
All politics are local. He has played well on the national stage, but does he really know all of Chicago? Where are his roots? Does he know the South Side of Chicago? Does he care about the children being shot? Does he know the West Side of Chicago? Does he know where Pilsen is located? Does he care about the traffic patterns? Does he care about the schools? What does he care about? What are his issues? Does he care at all? These questions will be answered in days to come.
National politics will play its hand, but it is the people in Chicago who will cast the votes. And Rahm Emanuel, at this time, is a suspect candidate. President Obama's endorsement does not matter.
The Hispanic community is suspicious of Rahm because he does not support immigration reform. The Black community is suspect of Rahm because he is unknown. The political community is suspect because he went to Washington. If the "best job in the world" is being the mayor of Chicago, why did he leave? Real Chicagoans are here on the ground making the city work.
The Myth of the Dead Fish
I am disturbed with the White House's dead fish gift to Rahm Emanuel. The dead fish has multiple negative connotations. First of all, Chicago worldwide is thought of as a "gangster" town. The dead fish gift illuminates that.
What does the dead fish mean?
When gangsters gift dead fish, it signifies that "He sleeps with the fishes," (as gangsters used to say) at the bottom of the lake. The gift of the Asian Carp represents the fish that eats all vegetation. Does this mean that Rahm will gobble all who get in his way? The dead fish gift is curious.
Rahm supposedly gave the gift of the dead fish to donors who didn't respond quickly to fundraising campaigns. It is reported that he once gave a fish to a pollster who polled "against" his candidate.
The symbolism of the dead fish was beneath the institution of The White House and totally improper. Where were the public relations people? The dead fish is inappropriate. Or was it? Was Obama signaling to Chicago?
Rahm's campaign will be well financed and well run with top guns. But the signal of the dead fish is important to note. Not all in Chicago are hip hip hooray for the Obama Administration. Rahm comes to the people of the base, that made it really happen and he may not be well received. What took you so long to call back home? Did you forget us peons here in Chicago, where 'the best job' is located?
Will Rahm Emanuel's campaign be hosts of bought politics, drive-by neighborhoods, smiley face photo opportunities, staged platforms and performances? Will he curse and swear, or will media bucks buy good favor and editorials? Furthermore, will donations to ministers provide access to Sunday pulpits and will a presidential endorsement sway voters? Will the Daley engine push him forward? Will he send dead fish?
The Chicago electorate is among the most sophisticated on the face of the earth. We have a collective ability to see the authentic and an uncanny eye for the phony and the canned.
Rahm Emanuel might be a great mind and a national presence, but he does not appear authentic. The people of Chicago as a whole are not looking for a put up politician. We are looking for the real deal, somebody dedicated to the city of Chicago, to solve the problems of crime, jobs, bad schools, civil rights and someone to clear the deficit.
We do not want a dictator.
We want a live fish that can swim.