Ed Driscoll

'Rahm-a-Lama-Ding-Dong'

Rahm Emanuel, “Ex-Obama Aide Forced into Chicago Runoff,” John Fund reports. Couldn’t happen to a nicer party hack:

Illinois, the nation’s fiscal basket case, has been full of political surprises lately. Yesterday, Chicago, the home of the political machine that nurtured Barack Obama’s career, saw Mayor Rahm Emanuel forced into an April runoff against Councilman Jesus “Chuy” Garcia.

Emanuel, Obama’s first White House chief of staff, had every advantage in the race: $7 million in TV ads, a personal visit from his former boss, and the backing of a business community that’s been able to make special side deals with “da Mayor.” But Garcia showed the muscle of two powerful forces in the city’s politics: its growing Hispanic population and the Chicago Teachers Union, furious at Emanuel’s closing of 50 public schools. Two years ago, Emanuel retreated after a brief teacher’s strike and signed a new, generous contract with the union hoping to buy peace. That never works, and now the union is out to get him.

At Bloomberg, Dave Weigel explains why his fellow ‘Progressives’ “Celebrate Rahm Emanuel’s Surprise Setback in Chicago:”

Why did progressives–why do progressives–want to humble Emanuel? The answer’s been blaring from magazines like In These Times and Rolling Stone and the Nation for months. In the election-month cover story of In These Times, for example, progressive historian Rick Perlstein explained why the deal Emanuel cut with a company to remake the city’s transit cards never stopped hurting him.

The transit cards can double as debit cards, you see, promoted as a boon for Chicago’s un- and under-banked. But dig the customer fees hidden in the 1,000-page contract the city signed with Cubic: $1.50 every time customers withdraw cash from an ATM, $2.95 every time they add money to their online debit account with a personal credit card, $2 for every call with a service representative and an “account research fee” of $10 an hour for further inquiries, $2 for a paper copy of their account information, and, if you decide you’ve had enough, a $6 “balance refund fee.” [Gee, wait’ll they discover ObamaCare — Ed] This all makes mincemeat of the pro-privatization argument that “the marketplace” is more transparent than a government bureaucracy. The city might have been able to anticipate this before inking the deal had they paid attention to the fact that Money Network, the payment processing company partnering with Cubic, had received the lowest possible grade from the Better Business Bureau, and that another partner, MetaBank, was fined $5.2 million by federal regulators for a scheme to issue debit cards funded by tax refund loans at interest rates of up to 650 percent.

Emanuel was elected in the nadir of the first Obama term. While the White House adapted to Democratic politics, and while economic progressives took back a leading intellectual role in the party, Emanuel governed as a neoliberal. He’s still got plenty of advantages over Garcia, but he’s the first Chicago mayor to be forced into a runoff since the runoff system was created. Progressives wanted not just to humble Emanuel but to make a point about what sort of politics could no longer define the Democratic Party. And they’ve done that.

So Rahm has been transformed into the local government equivalent of Joe Lieberman, whom the Kos Kiddies hung out to dry as a loyalty test in 2006? That was also Hillary’s fate in 2007 — and possibly yet again if Elizabeth Warren is serious about running.

It’s a mindset that’s catching on the other side of the aisle: at Red State today, Leon Wolf has some thoughts “On the Value of Shooting Cowards.”

(Headline via NRO’s Twitter account. Note the photo atop it, which will get loads of play should Emanuel lose his runoff against Garcia.)