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Emanuel off to Chile on family holiday — with no apologies

It’s a bit unusual for a Chicago mayor with plummeting poll numbers in the middle of a re-election campaign to go off on an exotic vacation to a place as far away as Chile.

But that’s precisely where Mayor Rahm Emanuel and his family are headed this Christmas, no matter how unusual or cavalier it looks.

On Thursday, Emanuel made no apologies for choosing family over campaigning.

“In the balance between work and family, family should win. This is something [wife] Amy and I and the kids always look forward to,” the mayor said.

“I will not put ever politically my job ahead of my kids and the opportunity to be a father and the opportunity to have, quote, unquote `quality time.’ I don’t ever want to look back as a father and say, `Woulda, coulda, shoulda spent more time.’…We’ve had this tradition a long time. It’s something the whole family looks forward to. We’ll be going away. Then, traditionally, you guys will then attack me for going away with my family when I come back and then, we’ll play that process, too.”

Exotic Christmas and spring break trips are an Emanuel family tradition — so much so that the mayor once advised reporters to, in their next lives, “come back as an Emanuel child.”

But this trip is particularly poignant.

“This is [son] Zach’s last year before he goes off to college — if I don’t kill him before he goes there. But that’s a side note. That has nothing to do with the vacation. That just deals with having a teenaged boy at home,” the mayor said.

Asked where he was headed, Emanuel initially played a game of cat-and-mouse. He wouldn’t say while vowing to text reporters so, as he put it, “You won’t miss me.”

But as he was leaving, he finally came clean about Chile.

Asked why, he said, “Because you can’t get there.”

Emanuel is certainly right about the flak he takes for traveling to exotic locales that everyday Chicagoans have never heard of and cannot afford.

In early January, he returned from Viet Nam with a deep tan to one of the most brutal winters Chicago has ever had and got ridiculed for it.

He also was sharply criticized for being away on a spring break ski trip while his handpicked school team announced the record 50 school closings that prompted African-American voters who helped put him in office to abandon him in droves.