11/22/2010 02:31 pm ET Updated May 25, 2011

Chicago Beware of the Rahm Hype

The good people of Chicago deserve a report card review before plunging into an election dominated by Rahm Emanuel. To what degree is President Obama's chief of staff responsible for the political panic tsunami that swept across the nation on November 2nd?
Is Rahm responsible for the fact that this administration did not field its own Karl Rove to oversee the vitally important mid-term elections? Why is the position granted such a high profile in the Bush administration now rendered mute? Was Rahm concerned about being overshadowed in the headlines? Yes, there is a Black guy named Patrick Gaspard who holds the title of political director. But this operative is never seen and never heard.
The relevancy of these questions can be better understood when the third question is asked. Was Rahm's well-known great interest in foreign affairs an obstacle to his focus on pressing domestic issues? When President Obama gave his first speech at the United Nations I was surprised to see his chief of staff standing behind him for photo opportunities. Meanwhile back in Washington the Senate was dragging its feet on the confirmation of important presidential appointees to the agencies charged with implementing the stimulus program. Also, after eight years of a Republican executive did Rahm understand how every unit of governance, regardless of merit system safeguards, was packed with loyal Republican Party people who without hesitation sabotaged "emergency" implementation of the stimulus?
If Rahm was bored with the oversight of domestic programs what can Chicagoans expect from him as mayor? Without a doubt his expertise as a public relations peacock will keep the voters dazzled. Rahm sought and achieved better media ratings than any other chief of staff in recent history. The good old media boys never really confronted Emanuel with hard questions. The shady deal with the drug industry that tainted President Obama has never been thoroughly explored. The lockout of the progressive community at the White House health care roundtable is also a lightly questioned blunder. And there is the Nebraska deal.
There is no intention here to imply that Rahm Emanuel was Iago in the White House deliberately setting traps for an Othello president. But at this point a confession is in order. As a fellow member of Congress observing Rahm I was forced to conclude that he was an intellectual snob with contempt for the powerless, white or black. He was overtly hostile toward the members of the Congressional Black Caucus. When Obama accepted this hometown colleague as his chief of stall I was shocked. Not by accident have there been few Blacks at important White House meetings.
The White House open door for the Wall Street gang was also not by accident. For a short segment of his meteoric career Emanuel was an investor allowed to establish a nest egg of several million dollars. The lack of credibility of the Wall Street friends he welcomed to the White House was a major factor in the "shellacking" endured by the Democrats on November 2nd.
Clearly the Big Money folks will be welcomed at the Chicago City Hall. It is the poor Blacks and powerless people who might be in harms way with a Mayor Emanuel. If no one else has the courage to do it, then Black leaders must demand the thorough and robust review of a transparent report card for Candidate Emanuel.