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Eventually, you gotta govern

Friday, Sep 21, 2012 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Robert Bruno of the University of Illinois at Chicago described Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s battle with the teachers union quite well, I think

“It appeared as if he was more interested in winning; that he was involved in a fight, and he wanted to beat the union. He wanted to beat them. He was looking for a victory, as opposed … to the ultimate goal was, what would it take to get a settlement, what would it take to get a deal with my partners.”

And he’s still at it. Aides are quietly pushing anti-teacher stories to reporters. He appeared in a million-dollar TV ad paid for by an anti-teachers union group. If that wasn’t a message to the CTU about his continued defiance, I don’t know what was.

It’s still a war to him. A campaign, if you will. Governing is more than warring and campaigning, however. And that’s a hard lesson that I don’t think he has yet learned, even with his much-vaunted White House experience.

He plays politics like the Hanson Brothers played hockey. That’s fine in a campaign. Not so good when running a big city.

…Adding… From a commenter…

The Hanson brothers were never arrogant. They seemed happy to meet with the public. They also were willing to listen to their coach when he (temporarily) thought the team should play old-time hockey and not brawl.

The Hanson brothers would be behaving much, much better than Rahm is.


  1. - Will Caskey - Friday, Sep 21, 12 @ 5:33 am:

    The post-Citizens United landscape is littered with the bones of people who tried to govern. Any given elected official has to live with multiple interests who have effectively unlimited resources and no such restraint to “eventually govern.” For example, the people who put up the money for Rahm’s ad. Or the Change to Win coalition. Or the next random person with an ideological bone to pick and a seven figure budget to make it happen.

    Admonishments to set it all aside and be reasonable don’t really work when no one else in the room is going to do the same, no matter what.

  2. - Anonymous - Friday, Sep 21, 12 @ 6:50 am:

    ===He plays politics like the Hanson Brothers played hockey. That’s fine in a campaign. Not so good when running a big city.===

    “Old Time Politics, Dick Daley …No more ‘gooning it up’ …”

    There needs to be a “Capitol Fax Film Festival”!

  3. - Oswego Willy - Friday, Sep 21, 12 @ 6:52 am:

    the “Film Festival” was me … Hate this laptop

    Full Disclosure

  4. - truthteller - Friday, Sep 21, 12 @ 6:57 am:

    The Mayor’s attempt to spin this story demonstrates he learned nothing from the strike.
    He reminds me of Jane Byrne through whom we endured four years of trouble. She too promised change, but we got chaos.
    Of course she didn’t have the big bucks backing that Emanuel enjoys.It’s like the giant super PAC’s behind Mitt Romney.Can the moneyed folks keep him afloat?
    His ads remind me of 1984. It is scary!

  5. - Boone Logan Square - Friday, Sep 21, 12 @ 7:53 am:

    The Hanson brothers were never arrogant. They seemed happy to meet with the public. They also were willing to listen to their coach when he (temporarily) thought the team should play old-time hockey and not brawl.

    The Hanson brothers would be behaving much, much better than Rahm is.

  6. - Downstate - Friday, Sep 21, 12 @ 8:16 am:

    Hmmm…seems like Scott Walker is a more effective leader than Rahm or Quinn.

  7. - Teamster - Friday, Sep 21, 12 @ 8:19 am:

    Rahm doesn`t like to lose. Even Mayor Daley as stubborn as he is would walk away to fight another day. That`s what is wrong with politics all of these elected officilas are more concerned with polls and political tv pundits assessments of their style than of the issues at hand. Rahm`s adviser on schools issues Bruce Rauhner is going to continue to spell trouble for Rahm with the teachers union.Just the other day Rauhner was rambling on about lazy teachers. Debate is healthy but, not what this guy dishes out. Chicago is lucky to have a strong bright leader like Rahm but, as one reporter recently wrote maybe Rahm needs a time out on the teacher bashing.
    The same goes for the pension issue related to public employees. The Civic Federation, Rahm and Quinn continue to demonize public employees for having a pension. No pension or retirement funds means no sustainable middle class. The employees have anywhere from 5% to 10% of salary deducted every paycheck to contribute to the fund. Problem being the government body that they work for weren`t contributing the negotiated matching amount to the fund and for this a public employee should shoulder the criticism for having a pension plan that the employer fails to contribute too and be portrayed a a bad guy.
    Right after Quinn vetoed the gambling bill Rahm was complaining that he already had a plan on how to spend it for projects and education. There in lies the problem these politicians already have money spent that they don`t have. Why don`t they dedicate the revenue from the gambling expansion when it happens and use it to pay down the pension debt. When the unions told Quinn recently that they would pay more of salary towards the pensions if the state would guarantee they would match it. Quinn said it is a non starter. SEE they have no intentions of paying their share. CPS is going to have to come up with $1 Billion next year to pay for the pensions. Rahm called a meeting of the alderman this week to prepare and brief them on legislation he is planning to introduce in Springfield to address the pension issue.It was called off to be re-scheduled at a later date.He needed to delay it so he could save face by cutting all those commercials addressing the teacher`s strike. Again, polls are more important than reality!

  8. - Randolph - Friday, Sep 21, 12 @ 8:19 am:

    We knew what we were getting with Emanuel.

    It amazes me when the press finally realizes what the leaders we elect are all about.

    After all, it was the press that was spinning the “naked confrontations in the shower” and “using female bodily functions to insult males” stories.

  9. - Darienite - Friday, Sep 21, 12 @ 8:40 am:

    10-4 Randolph. Who actually believed Rahm would morph overnight into a Statesman. He now will have to deal with the Police, Fire and CTA on their CBAs. Fasten your seatbelts, it’s going to be a bumpy ride.

  10. - Siriusly - Friday, Sep 21, 12 @ 8:42 am:

    Have to disagree with you on this one. This relationship is not really a fair partnership in any way.

    The power balance between school districts and the Unions is clearly unbalanced. The unions have all the leverage and negotiations are unbalanced, the workplace rules they establish for themselves, the labor laws under which districts must negotiate (not communicate with the public who elected them while in negotiations - but unions can) are all crafted by the unions and favor the unions.

    Many suburban districts are about to strike also. These strikes aren’t about wages, I believe this is a coordinated effort from the unions nationally or at least in IL to push back on education reform and re-establish themselves as the power in this equation.

    If you’re going to point the finger at one partner for being too calculating or political,I think its the teachers unions - not Rahm. I think the public is on Rahm’s side.

  11. - Shore - Friday, Sep 21, 12 @ 8:43 am:

    I think this issue has shown how badly the media has misread Rahm. It was pretty clear reading and watching this story that they think he’s playing checkers and he’s playing multi-level, multi-board chess. They think it’s just about chicago for him, when in reality what he’s doing is as much for the political journalists in bethesda and wonks in dupont circle, financial media in new york, donors in LA, and global executives. The chicago reader has reported on his scheduling from day 1 and it’s pretty clear he doesn’t really view this stuff in terms of his position in the city but his position nationally and internationally. A different mayor who had come up through city politics without the national power base I think would have handled this far differently and much more diplomatically, but rahm doesn’t and so he continues with the “campaign”.

  12. - Louis Howe - Friday, Sep 21, 12 @ 8:43 am:

    Rahm’s “White House experience” included ramrodding NAFTA and selling short the Obama stimulus. He’s fortunate that Chicago has a history of supporting losers.

  13. - dave - Friday, Sep 21, 12 @ 8:50 am:

    **I think the public is on Rahm’s side.**

    Sure…if you completely ignore all polling that’s been done.

  14. - Ruby - Friday, Sep 21, 12 @ 9:06 am:

    It does seem to appear that Mayor Emanuel is only interested in winning against the Chicago Teachers Union. But his real interest is in doing what his wealthy campaign contributors want, which is to privatize education in the USA for billions of dollars in financial profits.

  15. - Waffle Fries - Friday, Sep 21, 12 @ 9:15 am:

    I kept waiting for him to tape the foil

  16. - Jim - Friday, Sep 21, 12 @ 9:15 am:

    What does Citizens United have to do with the teacher negotiations? This was a political fight, not a political campaign
    Of course, Rahm wanted to win. He is a political thug who always wants to win. But he also recognizes that if Chicago’s school children are to have any kind of chance in life, which many of them don’t, changes must be made in the way the schools operate. Unfortunately for him, taxpayers and school children, he mostly lost and the union mostly won.

  17. - Keep It Simple - Friday, Sep 21, 12 @ 9:29 am:

    Gotta disagree with you Rich. Yes, it is a war. A 100 year war from what it feels like. And continuing with the status quo is not acceptable. His fight won’t end until his last day in office, so of course he’s still at it.

  18. - Air-Is-Total - Friday, Sep 21, 12 @ 9:38 am:

    Not like the Hanson Brothers - at all. They did not throw a punch and then hide behind a multi-million dollar PR operation. They “engaged” until the whistle blew. Rahm picks the fight and has others try and finish it.

  19. - Steve Bartin - Friday, Sep 21, 12 @ 9:42 am:

    Rahm has made enemies but… bigger public pension issues will eventually put the unions on the defensive. Check out this video.

  20. - Anonymous - Friday, Sep 21, 12 @ 9:45 am:

    I am getting sick of the commercials with Rahm. Karen Lewis is doing it on the radio too.

  21. - Loop Lady - Friday, Sep 21, 12 @ 9:46 am:

    It’s like I said previously, Rahm lacks the temperment to be a public official. He is a great political strategist, pit bull, and fundraiser. My prediction is that he will be a one term Mayor, and then head back to the Investment Banking community. Time for the Hispanic population to run a viable, home grown candidate in 2015.

  22. - J - Friday, Sep 21, 12 @ 9:52 am:

    Rich, this fight isn’t over yet.

    There’s lots of reporting going on about potential school closings, so it seems to me that the contract was just round 1.

    And, let’s be honest it’s not like Karen Lewis is going to sit down and negotiate a compromise on how many of her members will get laid off in school closings.

  23. - amalia - Friday, Sep 21, 12 @ 9:58 am:

    I think I’d like Rahm better if he wore the Hanson black glasses.

  24. - zatoichi - Friday, Sep 21, 12 @ 9:58 am:

    It’s one thing to be the top dog and another to be a top aid. The top dog has to work with a wide range of people and find ways to get stuff done that keeps PR problems to a minimum. The top aid can be can often be the behind the scene enforcer to keep the top dog clean. Rahm has not been a local with a focus on Chicago for a long time so a reasonable question is does he have the patronage troops that the Daley’s had? He has the job but he acts like it’s a stepping stone to build chips to use for his next Washington job.

  25. - Esquire - Friday, Sep 21, 12 @ 10:07 am:

    Emanuel is a bit long in the tooth to begin meeting with a child psychologist, but, man, does he have some issues from what happened on the playground during recess.

  26. - Dave Dahl - Friday, Sep 21, 12 @ 10:07 am:

    Waffle Fries beat me to it.

    “Putting on the foil, Coach !! Want some?”

  27. - bored now - Friday, Sep 21, 12 @ 10:22 am:

    one of the hardest things for good campaigners to learn is that campaigning and governing are two different things…

  28. - Hank - Friday, Sep 21, 12 @ 10:26 am:

    Gotta wonder if he will continue to PO the teachers enough for them to fail to ratify the new contract on October 1?. Perhaps his “victory lap” should wait until it’s a done deal.

  29. - DuPage Dave - Friday, Sep 21, 12 @ 10:35 am:

    Emanuel represents everything that’s wrong with today’s politics. He is rich because he went from the elected office to Wall Street for a short while, although no one can say what he did to earn his paycheck there. He stands for corporate power more than anything. Harold Washington would have accused him of hubris or overweening arrogance in the way that only he could.

    The contempt shown by the mayor for the ordinary working teachers in public schools will be the lasting memory of this strike and its resolution. He is nominally a Democrat but stands hand-in-hand with Republican Scott Walker and the Koch brothers in his effort to destroy public sector unions once and for all.

    Like Walker, he neglected to mention this goal when running for office. But it is as clear as day that he wants to make sure public employees wages and benefits no only cease to rise, but in fact decrease.

    I don’t agree that we knew what we were getting with Emanuel. These guys never come clean when running for office. “I promise to destroy the Chicago Teachers Union” would probably not have been an effective slogan.

    The linked article says he is now going after police and firemen. Good luck with that one, buddy. They enjoy more public support than the teachers do. Even Walker exempted them from his anti-union barrage.

  30. - Anonimo - Friday, Sep 21, 12 @ 10:51 am:

    I don’t think Rahm is interested in governing the City of Chicago - he’s interested in winning glowing headlines that will position him for winning higher office. So we’ll get more commercials, more press releases, and less of the real policy changes our city needs. I have a close friend that meets with the Mayor from time to time and they state that it’s clear he’s not interested in good public policy - just a good narrative to feed the press.

  31. - Anonymous - Friday, Sep 21, 12 @ 11:40 am:

    =It was pretty clear reading and watching this story that they think he’s playing checkers and he’s playing multi-level, multi-board chess. They think it’s just about chicago for him, when in reality what he’s doing is as much for the political journalists in bethesda and wonks in dupont circle, financial media in new york, donors in LA, and global executives.=

    shore’s talking about Rahm, right? And his statement makes me wonder whether he’s so impressed with the 3-D chess that he’s condoning the lack of true interest in governing/representing as long as you continue to entertain him with 3-D chess.

    “one of the hardest things for good campaigners to learn is that campaigning and governing are two different things…”

    Yup. Two completely different objectives and pols in general nowadays don’t seem to realize that. To wit: In the business world, when working on projects, a good PM always get the best resources available with the abilities to meet the objectives on time and on budget and within stated quality levels. The project ends. A new one begins, and you go for the next set of resources with the abilities to meet the new objectives….

    In politics, elected officials get the best campaign/fundraising resources, and then when it’s time to govern or represent their constituents, they keep the best campaign/fundraising resources…for a variety of reasons–and they’re not all good ones either.

  32. - Budget Watcher - Friday, Sep 21, 12 @ 12:51 pm:

    Look, he’s going to be mayor for as long as he wants to be mayor, so he doesn’t need to distinguish between campaigning and governing methods. Instead, it’s probably better that Chicago learn to accept his style of governance because that’s going to be their reality for as long as he’s there.

  33. - IrishPirate - Friday, Sep 21, 12 @ 12:54 pm:

    Rahmbo should have stayed in the congress. With his lovely personality and people skills he would have made an excellent Democratic whip.

    I also thinks he sees being Mayor as a stepping stone to lower office. Senate? Governor? Vice President? President?

    I don’t think he pictures himself as Mayor in 2032. By then we should be back to our normal round of Daleys. Probably by 2019.

  34. - Yellow Dog Democrat - Friday, Sep 21, 12 @ 1:43 pm:

    === Admonishments to set it all aside and be reasonable don’t really work when no one else in the room is going to do the same, no matter what. ===

    Caskey, it’s not like these are third party ads and he was powerless to stop them. He’s in them for Pete’s sake.

    === The power balance between school districts and the Unions is clearly unbalanced. The unions have all the leverage and negotiations are unbalanced ===

    Seriusly, I don’t want to let this flawed argument go unchallenged. Much has been said about the imbalance of union negotiations. Let’s get to the point: public union negotiations are less like a “negotiation” and more like a civil trial. You hope that the plaintiff and the defense can work it out pre-trial. But if the defense — in this case the school board — refuses to make a reasonable offer or the plaintiff — in this case the CTU — refuses to accept a reasonable offer, then it goes to trial. And the jury is the public.

    The reason Rahm and CPS lost so embarrassingly is that early polling showed that 80 percent of Chicagoans believed that teachers who are being forced to wok a much longer school day deserved proportional increases in compensation.

    But did CPS start out with a reasonable offer for increasing the school day by 20 percent? Nope. They offered 2 percent, and they never made a counter offer.

    Had CPS started out with 10 percent over 3-4 years, they would have seemed much more reasonable. They might have had more public support. CTU certainly would have had a much tougher time reaching the strike threshold. And CPS probably would have gotten much more of its “reform” agenda.

    I know its easy to Monday morning quarterback. But I and many others have been saying this since the beginning.

    And while I love “Slapshot,” a much better analogy to me is Robert McNamara’s “Fog of War.”

    Asked how President Kennedy, surrounded by the smartest cabinet you can imagine, allowed the U.S. to be dragged into Vietnam, McNamara made two points.

    First, that Kennedy hated, hated the thought of losing. He sure didn’t want to be the first American President to lose a war.

    But secondly, McNamara said that while they had all of the smartest people there, what Kennedy lacked was someone within his inner circle who was willing to stand up in the room or take the President aside and say “Are you really sure this is such a good idea?”

    I don’t know who is in Rahm’s inner circle. I don’t know if there’s a person he trusts enough who wants him to succeed enough that they are willing to risk their relationship or even just his rebuke by questioning him. But I’ve come to believe that every great leader needs at least one person in the room that they can count on to say “I think this is a bad idea” and the leader needs to listen.

    Blagojevich sure could have used one.

  35. - wordslinger - Friday, Sep 21, 12 @ 1:58 pm:

    Emanuel’s a money man, a fundraiser.

    Those who write the checks are his constituency. He dances to their tune.

    And they are the New York hedgies and Rauners of the world, not the Chicago citizens who pack a lunch and go to work in the schools, patrol a neighborhood or run into burning buildings.

    What kind of checks do they write?

  36. - Ace Matson - Friday, Sep 21, 12 @ 2:50 pm:

    No eventually you don’t have to govern. Look at Quinn, Madigan, Burke, Berrios. Their constituencies are a mess, getting worse, and the people re-elect them anyway!

  37. - Yellow Dog Democrat - Friday, Sep 21, 12 @ 3:21 pm:

    === Aides are quietly pushing anti-teacher stories to reporters. ===

    Just wanted to add that this is the kind of thing that voters really don’t want.

    And frankly, you’d think they’d be spending more time pushing positive stories about how the Mayor’s efforts are making a difference.

    As I said yesterday, I think that all told The Mayor is doing a much better job than his predecessor. But so much of his P.R. machine has been focused on targeting teachers that anything else gets drowned out.

  38. - Will Caskey - Friday, Sep 21, 12 @ 3:28 pm:

    YDD: Of course this was intentional. That’s not my point.

    My point is that it would be severe political malpractice for the mayor not to anticipate a substantial IE against himself because of this issue up to and through 2015, at any point. He could probably expect the same if his hitherto generous reform supporters suspected he was not quite the supporter they expected. I think you agree with me on this point. I think you’d also agree it would be foolish to disregard that knowledge and not present the face on the strike that he wants instead.

    I want to be clear: I don’t take the position that there’s some sort of imbalance of power here. There is only a permanent campaign, and asking to “govern” without corresponding posturing is unrealistic. Ed Reform Now is not going to “govern,” they’re going to keep running ads. CTU and their accompanying parent organizations are going to keep campaigning, perhaps not in the form of ads (though I certainly expect extensive paid media in 2015), but certainly in ongoing earned media in whatever way they can. I don’t fault anyone for this. They’re advocating for their respective constituencies. It’s value-neutral.

    Perhaps this is disappointing to the prototypical good-government plea but let’s not pretend anything else is possible. The only alternative is a single term of being a not particularly effective mayor.

  39. - walkinfool - Friday, Sep 21, 12 @ 3:28 pm:

    @O’Willy: “the film festival was me”

    I just got a vision of the inside of your skull.

    Love your brain riffs.

  40. - titan - Friday, Sep 21, 12 @ 3:31 pm:

    Eventually, if ungoverned long/badly enough, things become ungovernable.

    We are getting close, if we haven’t already arrived there.

  41. - Yellow Dog Democrat - Friday, Sep 21, 12 @ 3:39 pm:

    @Caskey -

    “Good government is good politics.”

    - Mayor Richard J. Daley

    I’m not suggesting its a bad idea because its not “good government.”

    I’m saying its a bad idea because he’s fighting a battle that he already lost.

    Spending a lot of time and a lot of money reminding voters of the one issue they disagree with you the most on is a bad idea.

    Moreover, Madigan’s statements aside, Rahm’s best hope for stopping the red ink in the city and at CPS is to go to Springfield with the unions as partners. Even the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce understood that.

    Speaking of which, in the rundown of winners this week, I should have given Madigan an Honorable Mention.

  42. - Will Caskey - Friday, Sep 21, 12 @ 3:57 pm:

    Ah, but that’s not the same set of numbers. The main sticking point of the strike- testing in evaluations- broke evenly and slightly for the mayor. So, pushing these same positions is not exactly doubling down on political toxins.

    Setting all ideological considerations aside, this is just standard hat campaigning which everyone does. I have a hard time envisioning either of us giving advice in good faith to stop being mean so CTU in earned media or running ads with available cash. It’s not like the reverse is true and CTU is ever going to stop complaining about the mayor.

  43. - wordslinger - Friday, Sep 21, 12 @ 4:00 pm:

    –Setting all ideological considerations aside, this is just standard hat campaigning which everyone does.–

    What other mayor has stood in front of the cameras as a mouthpiece for a bunch of out-of-town finanicers?

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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