On Sunday, Rahm Emanuel declared his candidacy for mayor of Chicago. Instantaneously, he had problems with his campaign, not the least of which is that he is as much a resident of Chicago as I am. So on Monday, I declared my candidacy for mayor of Chicago. Why not? I did it on the national television show of the estimable Sean Hannity, who immediately threw his support behind me. I was born in Chicago, come from a long line of Chicagoans and, like Rahm, am occasionally in town. The place is a gastronomic paradise, a cultural delight with great museums and a fine orchestra, plus opera; surprisingly, Rahm and I never have crossed paths while in town. Supposedly, he attends rock concerts. He could attend the Chicago Symphony, but he opts for Bruce Springsteen.
My candidacy already had the national endorsement of The New York Sun, which tapped me the day before I declared. I have a new book out, "After the Hangover: The Conservatives' Road to Recovery," to provide Chicagoans — and Americans generally — with a blueprint for getting out of our present political and economic fix. The blogs are alive with support (and occasional rudeness), and more newspaper support is rumored to be on the way. All Rahm has are a few big names and our mutually held residency problem. Rahm still is seeking newspaper support, and his "listening tour," begun Monday, has gotten off to a rocky start. A lot of Chicagoans do not like him. He has a reputation for yelling at underlings and for profanity.
As for me, I am free of any hint of Chicago corruption, certainly no hint of a connection to ex-Gov. Rod Blagojevich. Frankly, I could not pick him out of a police lineup — at least a police lineup of gaudily dressed gigolos. Rahm is recorded on the telephone with Blagojevich suggesting deals shortly after President Barack Obama's election. All of this and any other questionable dealings will be rehashed over and again during the run-up to the February election. When it comes to political connections with the Chicago machine or, for that matter, almost any connection at all — my family lives in the suburbs — I am clean as a hound's tooth.
More to the point, though Rahm owns a house in Chicago, he does not live in it and cannot live in it. He leased it out nearly two years ago to one Rob Halpin, and it appears that Rob is a patriot. He is not going to let some capricious politician run him out of his home just because the politician decided to leave the sinking ship of President Obama and enter the mayoral race. He has responsibilities. Moreover, he renewed his lease just days before Mayor Richard M. Daley announced his retirement Sept. 7. That apparently inspired Rahm to run, and it does raise this question: Why did Rahm not leave himself free to move back to Chicago when he took his ill-considered job as President Obama's chief of staff? President Obama has maintained his home there and is freer to run for mayor than Rahm. Why, as recently as the first week in September, did Rahm not see this mayoral race as at least a possibility — or maybe some other Chicago electoral endeavor? As I say, he suddenly decided to jump ship.
It all smacks of opportunism and Rahm's usual proclivity for bullying people. He tried it on me, when as a prelude to siccing a grand jury on The American Spectator, his Clinton White House sent me not a dead fish but a copy of Bill Clinton's book "Between Hope and History," suitably inscribed but with no explanation. It was sent Feb. 26, 1998, and marked the beginning of a yearlong investigation of the Spectator on felony charges meant to tarnish Ken Starr's witness in the Whitewater matter. The proceedings were dismissed as a witch hunt, but it did last a year, and it was unpleasant. In fact, it reeks of bully politics.
Now Rahm envisages his unpleasant bully politics for Chicago, but he is dealing with serious pols, Sheriff Tom Dart and state Sen. James Meeks. Charges of "carpetbagger" are in the air and that word again, "bullying." Still these guys can deal with bullies, especially Dart, who is sheriff of all of Cook County. Moreover, experts on electoral law have weighed in, and they see tremendous hurdles for Rahm to leap — and me, too. I shall throw myself on the mercies of the court. Will Rahm trust the courts?
One of Chicago's top lawyers, Burt Odelson, told the Chicago Sun-Times that "the guy does not meet the statutory requirements to run for mayor." Odelson elaborated: "He hasn't been back there for 18 months. Residency cases are usually very hard to prove because the candidate gets an apartment or says he's living in his mother's basement. Here the facts are easy to prove. He doesn't dispute he's been in Washington for the past 18 months. This is not a hard case."
Well, Rahm, how about joining my legal case and throwing yourself on the mercy of the court? You got one thing right in all of this. Now is a good time to leave the White House. It might be a good time for Barack, too. Can one run for mayor while being president of the United States? Check it out, Barack. We all could run.
Column originally syndicated on October 7.
R. Emmett Tyrrell Jr. is the founder and editor-in-chief of The American Spectator and an adjunct scholar at the Hudson Institute. His new book is "After the Hangover: The Conservatives' Road to Recovery." To find out more about R. Emmett Tyrrell Jr. and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.