Our Pledge To You


Rahm and the cabbie have yet to hit it off

I jumped in a cab the other day.
The driver’s radio was tuned to NPR, a clear sign of a news junkie, and further confirmed when he looked back at me and asked, “So what’s going to happen in the mayor’s race?”


I don’t know, I said. What do you think?

“Rahm is not for the ordinary guy like me,” he said. “Daley, whether you liked him or not, was interested in all of us. Rahm isn’t. He deals with dealmakers, rich guys, the elite.”

Even some members of the elite privately express reservations about the mayor but are not interested in being quoted in this discussion. Which is why I omit the cabdriver’s name even though he was unafraid to offer it.

The challenge for Rahm Emanuel is clear and he knows it. And he’s been working zealously in recent months to address it.

That challenge is his perceived demeanor.

It is not an accident that we’re seeing commercials featuring women. Women of color like City Colleges President Cheryl Hyman talking about his commitment to education and jobs. Women of the working class like Kim Wasserman of Pilsen talking about environmental racism and Emanuel’s determination to make the air more breathable in Hispanic neighborhoods.

Women in these commercials are there not just to address issues but to buff the sharp edges of an edgy mayor at a time when Rahm Emanuel needs to project the humanity he believes he possesses. But the public in general isn’t so sure he has.

Let’s stipulate that Emanuel came into this job with a mountain of problems including massive pension debt, crumbling infrastructure and an economy in need of re-purposing for the 21st century.

So what weight should be given to his style?

And to what degree does style reflect substance?

Let’s start with what we knew about the mayor before his 2011 election.