Journalist Bob Woodward speaks at the Illinois Holocaust Museum and Education Center’s Humanitarian Awards Dinner. | Scott Stewart~Sun-Times
Mayor Rahm Emanuel offered a playful, but pointed response Thursday to legendary newsman Bob Woodward’s claim that Emanuel left behind a legacy of “hyper-partisanship” in Washington D.C.
One day after Woodward jokingly called the mayor out, Emanuel was asked whether he regrets the aggressive tactics he used, as architect of the 2006 Democratic takeover of Congress and then, as President Barack Obama’s first White House chief-of-staff.
“I very much remember serving the President and serving Congress well on behalf of the people,” Emanuel said.
“And I don’t think one person’s responsible for the tone of Washington. Since I’ve left, it’s not like it’s gotten better.”
Last week, Woodward drew national attention when he revealed that senior White House official Gene Sperling told him via email he would “regret” questioning the White House’s account on the origins of the mandatory across-the-board budget cuts known to Washington bureaucrats as “sequestration.”
On Wednesday, the legendary newsman of Watergate fame was in Chicago as keynote speaker of an event sponsored by the Illinois Holocaust Museum & Education Center at the Hyatt Regency Chicago.
Before Woodward took the stage, Emanuel stood at the same podium and joked: “Bob, if you thought Gene Sperling’s email was a political threat, to quote a line from the ‘Untouchables,’ ‘You’re not from Chicago.’ “
Emanuel added: “I am a little hurt that you actually thought Gene Sperling was a little more threatening than I am.”
After the mayor left to go to another event, Woodward got in a playful dig at Emanuel.
“We miss you in Washington, but you’ve left a legacy, and it’s not all your fault, but there is a hyper-partisanship that is so off the charts, I’ve never seen anything like it,” he said.
“There is so little focus on what’s real, what’s true,” said the Washington Post associate editor whose investigation into the Watergate scandal forced President Richard Nixon to resign.
In chatting about the now-famous exchange with Sperling, Woodward told Politico last week: “I’ve tangled with lots of these people. But suppose there’s a young reporter who’s only had a couple of years — or 10 years’ — experience and the White House is sending him an email saying, ‘You’re going to regret this.’ You know, tremble, tremble. I don’t think it’s the way to operate.”
Wednesday’s dinner at the Hyatt recognized the humanitarian efforts of billionaire venture capitalist J.B. Pritzker, Johnson Publishing Company Chairman Linda Johnson Rice and Chicago Board Options Exchange Chairman William Brodsky.