by Ben Joravsky
His latest column in the Sun-Times shows he's as audacious as ever.
That would be the column where the mayor announces his newfound dedication to passing sensible gun-control legislation—now that it's apparently politically safe to do so. Here, read it yourself.
It's like his newfound declaration to do whatever he can to get the state legislature to pass a gay marriage bill—now that most of the necessary pro votes have been rounded up by other people, most notably House Speaker Michael Madigan.
It all reveals something you might not know about our mayor: for all his F-bomb-dropping bravado, he's actually pretty timid about taking bold political stands.
Apparently, he's very sensitive about offending the political opposition.
In contrast to people on his side—like unionists, environmentalists, city workers, middle-class people in general, and poor people as a whole. He's not so sensitive about offending them.
In fact, if I were the great Dr. Freud, I'd say that Mayor Rahm holds the strongest disdain for those whose support he can most count on.
Which ought to be reasons number one, two, and three why they should not vote for him.
Hear that, teachers and firefighters and cops and city workers and pretty much anyone who lives on the west and south sides?
As Mayor Rahm sees it, the world's divided into two basic camps: the aforementioned suckers, who feel they have no choice but to vote his way, and everyone else.
In fact, I'd bet you that had Rahm Emanuel been an aide in President Lincoln's White House he'd have harangued against the abolitionists and strenuously counseled against issuing the Emancipation Proclamation on the grounds that he wouldn't want to offend slave-owning swing voters in Delaware.
But back to the mayor's audacious column on guns . . .
"During my two decades in national politics, there has been a commonly held belief that sensible gun policies are the third rail of politics," he writes. "Many of our elected leaders simply hide behind this empty mantra to avoid an honest discussion about an issue that ends thousands of innocent lives each year."
You know, for a guy who builds himself as a blunt-talking truth-teller, there's a curious lack of specificity in the mayor's passage. Allow me to fill in the missing blanks.
Among the many "elected leaders" hiding "behind this empty mantra" is Rahm Emanuel himself, who actively worked against gun control when he was in a position to help enact it.
As the mayor notes, President Bill Clinton helped push through "a strong assault weapons ban because these weapons were built for the battlefield, not for America's streets."
But, folding to pressure from the NRA, President Clinton's ban only lasted ten years. When Attorney General Eric Holder attempted to renew it, Mr. Emanuel, then President Obama's White House chief of staff, did everything he could to block him.
Or as Daniel Klaidman wrote in his book Kill or Capture: "Emanuel was furious. He slammed his desk and cursed the attorney general. Holder was only repeating a position Obama had expressed during the campaign, but that was before the White House needed the backing of pro-gun Democrats from red states for their domestic agenda. The chief of staff sent word to Justice that Holder needed to 'shut the fuck up' on guns."
In short, Mayor Rahm sets up the old Rahm as the straw man he knocks down so that the new Rahm can make the case for gun control that the old Rahm once opposed. Dr. Freud really would have a field day studying this guy.
Good God, I just had a vision of Rahm Emanuel in Lincoln's White House. He'd be the hotheaded young aide in the Oval Office, bellowing at the president: "Hey, Lincoln, shut the fuck up on the slaves."
Anyway, I'm happy to see that the mayor's found the courage of his convictions on gun control, though it's a little too late for the kids in Connecticut or the hundreds of people gunned down in Chicago every year.