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Paper Savages Rahm: 'An Elitist Whose Swagger Doesn't Match His Triumphs'

8:02 AM, May 7, 2014 • By DANIEL HALPER
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Kristen McQueary, a member of the Chicago Tribune editorial board, has a devastating piece in her paper on Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel. In short, the mayor--the former congressman and former chief of staff to President Obama--hasn't lived up to the bluster.

In most worlds — business, politics, personal — an arrogant person who accomplishes things is not only tolerated but celebrated. Many of us will take an ass-kicker who gets results over a cautious consensus-builder any day of the week.

That's why Chicago voters picked Rahm Emanuel for mayor in 2011. They liked his rascally persona: the dead fish delivered to a pollster who disappointed him, the shower confrontation with an uncooperative member of Congress, the reported, "Take your (expletive) tampon out and tell me what you have to say" to a male White House staffer who wasn't on point.

The strutting. The finger-pointing. The swearing. Come on. We loved it.

But Chicago's affection toward Emanuel has shifted in a way that is different from the natural fizzle elected officials experience in their first terms. Here's why. Emanuel has stretched the continuum in opposite directions. His arrogance is oversized for the record he has amassed. He's beyond bossy. He's a walking personality disorder. But his audacity exceeds his accomplishments. That's a dangerous combination.

Moreover, the mayor hasn't done much to curb Chicago's debt problem--and hasn't been able to solve the pension problem, McQueary points out. He hasn't implemented his campaign promises on education, he hasn't solved "cancerous gang activity and crime" in various parts of the city, and he's spent a lot of time out of the city.

"Maybe he ought to spend more time here, in his city. Maybe he ought to control his visible disdain for anyone who questions his record. A little humility would go a long way," McQueary writes. 

She concludes, "Voters will tolerate a control freak. They'll put up with bossy. But an elitist whose swagger doesn't match his triumphs? That's a bright line drawn."

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