Laura Washington: Can presidency shape a man? Not Trump

SHARE Laura Washington: Can presidency shape a man? Not Trump

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel met with Donald Trump, then the president-elect, at Trump Tower in New York in December 2016. The two have been at odds ever since Trump took office. | Spencer Platt/Getty Images

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It’s 2017. It’s time for predictions. It’s a treacherous exercise. Jim Stewart, the smart business columnist for the New York Times recently opined, when it comes to predictions, “The smart people are always wrong.”

That won’t stop me from trying. So here goes, my predictions for politics in 2017:

First, let’s consider the orange hair in the room. My Democratic friends continually ask me: “What can we expect from our new president? How bad will it get? ”


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Expect the unexpected from President-elect Donald J. Trump. Some hope the office will make the man. I think this man will make the office of president in his own image. Like a kaleidoscope, that image will change, moment to moment.

Trump will keep the world guessing in 2017. The biggest beneficiaries of that game will be me, and the rest of the news media hordes. Trump and the media enjoy a mutually beneficial, symbiotic relationship. We stoke his ego; he makes us bucks.

In 2017, he will surely do something that will knock mom’s heirloom china off the top shelf. He will take a position, utter a declaration, or dispatch a tweet that will turn the world upside down. And pay dearly for it.

I can’t wait.

I will be watching Trump’s dance with Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel. Their little chat at Trump Tower last month is not the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

Emanuel will adroitly deploy the specter of Trump to remake his political street cred. Back in the 1980s, Chicago Mayor Harold Washington cultivated a national reputation as a crusader for urban America by vilifying then-President Ronald Reagan as an enemy of urban America.

Emanuel has already declared he will fiercely protect Chicago’s sanctuary status against Trump’s anti-immigrant animus. The mayor will use Trump to strengthen his bully pulpit for the nation’s cities.

Before Trump, Emanuel’s administration was headed for an onerous and historic verdict from the U.S. Justice Department.

Under Barack Obama, the agency was assiduously investigating Chicago policing, and the city was headed for a consent decree that would mandate massive and costly changes to police practices.

If U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions, Trump’s pick for attorney general, is confirmed by the U.S. Senate, he will curtail that civil rights investigation and pivot to a pro-police, tough-on-crime agenda.

No matter. Before the end of 2017, Emanuel will forge ahead with effective, comprehensive police reform. His re-election chances hinge on him getting it right.

2017 will be the year of the Asian American. In Illinois, Asians won elected offices at multiple levels. This month, U.S. Rep. Tammy Duckworth will be sworn in as new U.S. Senator from Illinois, along with Raja Krishnamoorthi, who is taking her congressional seat, representing Illinois’ 8th Congressional District. Theresa Mah is the first Asian American elected to the Illinois General Assembly. Josina Morita won a countywide seat on the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District’s Board of Commissioners.

Asians, the nation’s fastest growing minority group, personify a fertile new power base for the Democratic Party.

Chicago’s thorniest challenge for 2017 has no solutions in sight, political or otherwise. The city suffered 780 murders in 2016. The bloody violence is sure to continue.

That’s one prognostication I would love to get wrong.


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