Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s new Ad misses his real problem

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s new Ad misses his real problem 5.00/5 (100.00%) 1 vote

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel published a new campaign advertisement that tries to soften his hardened public image that so many voters dislike. But the Ad, which stresses that he’s not perfect and addresses some of his issues, misses the mayor’s real problem.

By Ray Hanania

Mayor Rahm Emanuel looked at his polling this past week and realized that his failure to win the February 24 election outright and avoid a run-off was not because he didn’t address issues, but rather that people just don’t like his personality which seems to be more about him and and contradicts everything he claims to be.

So he released his new “Eat Crow” Ad in which he acknowledges he can be his own worst enemy, but insists no one will fight harder for Chicago than him.

Emanuel was forced into an April 7 runoff election by his chief challenger, Cook County Commissioner Jesus “Chuy” Garcia, a politician who has had a mediocre public service history and lacks the charisma to be a real leader. Yet, Garcia received nearly 35 percent of the total votes cast, leading three other challengers who trailed far behind. The battle left Emanuel with only 45 percent of the vote, a significant 5 percent short of what he needed to win the election all out in the city’s “Open Primary” system where the winner takes all.

The new system clearly changed the election playing field. In 1983, Harold Washington won the Democratic Primary with only 37 percent of the vote, sailing past incumbent Mayor Jane M. Byrne who received 30 percent and Cook County State’s Attorney Richard M. Daley who had 30 percent. Back them, the winner of the Democratic Primary them went on to face-off with challengers from the Republican and Independent parties.

Had the old system been in place, Garcia would have done poorly and Emanuel would be the mayor today, facing off against an obscure Republican Party candidate representing a party that has very few if any voting members left in the City of Chicago.

Garcia and the three other challengers won 55 percent of the vote, which is a landslide defeat for Emanuel who had campaign supporter and appearances from President Barack Obama and leaders of the state’s African American Community, such as Illinois Secretary of State Jessie White, the state’s leading Black officeholder, and Congressman Bobby Rush. Emanuel also had the backing of Congressman Luis Gutierrez, whose Hispanic district shadowed the pattern of 15 wards that Garcia won and that Emanuel lost.

With Garcia’s historic challenges, and his weakness as a leader both in Chicago where he served as a back-bench Chicago Alderman and on the Cook County Board where he did little more than occupy a seat, Emanuel’s poor showing demonstrated that voters were not looking at issues of red light cameras, schools, crime or economy.

They were looking for leadership and while Garcia didn’t have it, Emanuel clearly doesn’t have it either.

The new Emanuel Ad is intended to address that by showing that Emanuel is a “real leader” because he is willing to acknowledge that he is not perfect. That’s something very few Chicago politicians have ever done over the years, unless they were standing in front of the bench of a Federal Judge at their corruption sentencing.

Rahm Emanuel campaign Ad "Worst enemy"

Rahm Emanuel campaign Ad “Worst enemy”

Yet as smart as that move was, Emanuel’s commercial missed the mark. Instead of acknowledging his failings and promising to do better for the people of Chicago, Emanuel reinforced the very reasons why he should not be mayor and why a mediocre Cook County Commissioner and former Chicago Alderman stands a good chance of pushing him out of his 5th Floor City Hall mayor’s office.

The key element is that Emanuel fails to acknowledge he has taken so many of the city’s residents for granted. All five of the candidates have made Chicago their priority, with different levels of success. And All five of the candidates promised to fight the city’s mounting challenges: increasing crime, failing schools, sinking economy, and rising property taxes.

But voters are looking for someone to show strength and fairness, someone they can trust to be a good mayor not a self-serving opportunist who might be using the Mayor’s Office as a launching pad in a continued career path to higher office.

Does Emanuel want to be President? He won’t do it with this campaign, which has been lacking.

One of Emanuel’s biggest problems is that he harbors anger at people he disagrees with. And in Chicago politics, success is built on compromise, coalitions and alliances.

One of Emanuel’s first acts as mayor when he was elected in 2011 was to target his first enemies, Chicago’s American Arab community, Emanuel is Jewish and his parents are Israeli and they have a natural hostility towards Chicago’s Arab community which is overwhelmingly Palestinian.

Doesn’t everyone know that Arabs and Jews, Palestinians and Israelis are in an all-out-battle over Middle East issues?

So, when he took office, Emanuel abolished the Arab Advisory Commission in a claimed reorganization of the Chicago Human Relations Commission, which honestly was not very effective in achieving good human relations at all. Although the Human Relations Commission and the Arab Advisory Commission was created by Mayor Washington, it was always stymied by the political antics of its former director, the incompetent Clarence Wood who put personal agendas above the city’s ethnic community’s needs.

But Emanuel was trying to make the Human Relations Commission better. Instead, he seemed to target the elimination of American Arabs. His next act was to undermine the Arabesque Festival which was launched four years earlier by former Mayor Richard M. Daley, an Arab festival American Arabs had been clamoring to establish for two decades.

Worse, Emanuel has discriminated against people based on their religion and ethnicity. Emanuel has excluded all Arabs from his activities, but has worked with leaders of the mostly non-Arab Muslim American community. The majority of Muslims in America, 78 percent, are non-Arab. The majority, 37 percent, are African American. The second largest group includes Asian and Pakistani Muslims. Arab Muslims are the smallest group.

And never mind that the majority of Arabs in America, and in Chicago, are actually Christian Arabs.

Emanuel has failed to address his real problem in his latest mea culpa, eat crow, kinder and gentler campaign advertising gimmick. It’s slick but it doesn’t hit the mark he needs to undermine his weak challenger’s growing popularity.

Emanuel needs to overcome his flaws and embrace real diversity. Because it is clear to African American and Hispanics and Asians that if he can so easily brush aside Arab Americans, Rahm Emanuel can just as easily push all of them out of his office, too.

Here is Emanuel’s campaign ad and the text of what he says:


They say your greatest strength is also your greatest weakness. I’m living proof of that.

I can rub people the wrong way, or talk when I should listen. I own that. But I’m driven to make a difference.

When politics stood in the way of a full day kindergarten or tougher gun laws, I charged ahead.

And when business interests said $13 minimum wage was too high, I didn’t back down.

Look, I’m not always going to get it right.

But when it comes to fighting for Chicago and Chicago’s future, no one is going to fight harder.

Click here to go directly to the Ad on Youtube.

(Ray Hanania is an award winning former Chicago City Hall political reporter and columnist. He is President/CEO of Urban Strategies Group which provides media consulting to governments, politicians and businesses. Reach him at [email protected].)

Photo by danxoneil

Ray Hanania

Blogger, Columnist at Illinois News Network Online
Ray Hanania is senior blogger for the Illinois News Network news site. He is an award winning former Chicago City Hall political reporter and columnist who covered the beat from 1976 through 1992 (From Mayor Daley to Mayor Daley). And, Hanania is a stubborn and loud critic of the biased mainstream American news media.

In 1976, he was hired by the Chicago community newspaper The Southtown Economist (Daily Southtown) and in 1985 was hired by the Chicago Sun-Times and covered Chicago City Hall for both. In 1993, he launched the “The Villager” Newspapers which covered 12 Southwest Chicagoland suburban regions. He hosted a live weekend Radio Show on WLS AM radio from 1980 through 1991, and also on WBBM FM, WLUP FM and shows on WSBC AM in Chicago and WNZK AM in Detroit.

Hanania is the recipient of four (4) Chicago Headline Club “Peter Lisagor Awards” for Column writing. In November 2006, he was named “Best Ethnic American Columnist” by the New American Media;In 2009, he received the prestigious Sigma Delta Chi Award for Writing from the Society of Professional Journalists. Hanania has also received two (2) Chicago Stick-o-Type awards from the Chicago Newspaper Guild, and in 1990 was nominated by the Chicago Sun-Times for a Pulitzer Prize for his four-part series on the Palestinian Intifada.

Hanania’s writings have been published in newspapers around the world. He currently is syndicated through Creators Syndicate and his column is feature every Sunday in the Saudi Gazette in Saudi Arabia. He has written for the Jerusalem Post,, Newsday in New York, the Orlando Sentinel, the Houston Chronicle, The Daily Star, the News of the World, the Daily Yomimuri in Tokyo, Chicago Magazine, the Arlington Heights Daily Herald, and Aramco Magazine. His Chicagoland political columns are published in the Southwest News-Herald and Des Plaines Valley News on several Chicagoland blogs including the and

Hanania is the President/CEO of Urban Strategies Group media and public affairs consulting which has clients in Illinois, Florida, Michigan and Washington D.C.

His personal website is Email him at: [email protected]