Has President Joe Biden forgotten that former Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel was run out of this town by voters for burying that Laquan McDonald police shooting video?
Voters didn’t forget. I didn’t forget.
And though burying that video helped him win reelection in 2015, once Chicago knew the full story he couldn’t wriggle off that big hook he put in his own mouth. He was caught, released and then he was gone.
Rahm swam away like an angry bluegill, his dorsal fin spiky in rage, just like those aggressive bluegills from Chicago that were given as a gift by Mayor Richard J. Daley in 1960 to the emperor of Japan during a visit here.
The emperor, then-Crown Prince Akihito, loved the study of fish. So Daley ordered up some Chicago bluegills from the Shedd Aquarium. Later, they were released into Japanese fresh waters and the invasive Chicago bluegills savaged the Japanese fresh water ecosystem. The emperor of Japan was forced to publicly apologize to his people. Those Chicago bluegills created an international incident.
And now Emanuel is reportedly set to be politically reborn with a new political post.
Behold: Rahm of Japan, the U.S. ambassador to the Land of the Rising Sun.
As ambassador, will Rahm of Japan apologize for the Chicago bluegills and cut off his pinkie finger, as I once asked Mayor Richard M. Daley to do as penance for his father causing shame to the emperor?
Rahm could cut his finger off like some character in a Yakuza movie, wrap the chunk in clean white cloth, touch it to his forehead, and offer it as his token of shame. But the people of Japan might be insulted by a stumpy Yakuza reference. The government told me years ago they didn’t want Rich Daley’s pinkie.
Besides, Rahm already lost a finger, known here as “The Arby.” Losing another digit would be too great a sacrifice.
Yet Rahm evolves, from starring in that famous portrait “The Rahmfather”— in an icy Michael Corleone pose — to ambassador of a nation that is critical to American interests as China becomes increasingly aggressive.
His picaresque saga continues, and naturally, with Rahm being Rahm, the politics of high intrigue seep into every scenario.
Common wisdom in the news says the American left is critical of Rahm for burying the police video of McDonald being shot 16 times by a white cop. But am I of the left? Not bloody likely.
If Biden does appoint him ambassador, after hurting Rahm’s feelings by caving to the left and not giving Rahm what he really wanted — secretary of transportation — what will happen?
Senate Democrats, including Majority Leader Charles Schumer, will be under pressure from the hard left that runs their party to go after him with McDonald questions during Senate hearings.
A few months ago, the stylish queen of American progressives, U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, stopped Biden from naming Rahm as transportation secretary with one tweet.
“What is so hard to understand about this? Rahm Emanuel helped cover up the murder of Laquan McDonald. Covering up a murder is disqualifying for public leadership,” Ocasio-Cortez tweeted. “This is not about the ‘visibility’ of a post. It is shameful and concerning that he is even being considered.”
If there is a Senate confirmation hearing for Rahm of Japan, they might want to sell tickets.
Schumer is a wily political operative. But then, so is Rahm, and proudly so, ruthlessly vindictive in victory.
Much of the news coverage about his reported ambassadorship touches well-known points:
Rahm sent a dead fish to an enemy. Rahm stabbed a steakhouse table with a knife, naming his enemies and pronouncing them dead one by one. Rahm and his prolific swearing.
But somehow, national media wasn’t interested in this one:
Rahm getting paid more than $300,000 as an asleep-at-the-switch Freddie Mac board member as the agency’s loan portfolio helped trigger the housing sector collapse. The allegedly transparent Obama administration denied Chicago Tribune reporters’ Freedom of Information Act requests for Freddie Mac board minutes during Rahm’s time there as director.
Still, many are interested in Rahm’s fortune, leaving the Clinton administration to cash in on political connections with an insider deal that reportedly made him $18 million.
Later, he was Obama’s White House chief of staff, though Obama’s media mouthpieces insisted the president from Chicago was above filthy Chicago politics.
At the time, Mayor Daley was self-destructing back home, selling off infrastructure and parking meters, and Obama was approving a classic bait-and-switch. It was teased out on the Charlie Rose show. Rahm would be returning to Chicago to be mayor, and William Daley, the mayor’s brother, would become Obama’s chief of staff.
Obama and the Chicago Way? What Chicago Way?
Rahm is smart, quick, tough, even brilliant at times. But what does he know of Japan?
He could watch the old TV miniseries “Shogun” or “The Last Samurai” with Tom Cruise, but is that enough? No.
As a former ballet dancer, he has self-knowledge of his core. Yet if he were truly serious about learning Japanese culture, he’d already have applied as an uchi-deshi,part student apprentice, part servant, at the famous Honbu, the Kyokushin Karate dojo in Tokyo.
He’d have to clean the toilets and the mats and get slapped around for a year or two until he learned the way. But that would take humility.
And if there’s one thing the Rahmfather of Chicago or Rahm of Japan is not, it’s humble.
Want more John Kass? See all his columns and find his weekly podcast here.
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