The Southside Chicago neighborhood of Beverly -- on its surface, it hasn't changed much over the years. It still has more Irish pubs than any place in Chicago. Pleasant old ladies still tend to their immaculate tree-lined front yards. Capacity crowds still fill the pews at St. Barnabas and Christ the King. Kids still ride their squeaky bikes to Rainbow Cone in the summer. Irish clans, with surnames like Hynes, Joyce, Keane and, yes, Daley, still mark the area as their political "turf." All cogs in the wheel of Chicago's well-oiled Democrat political machine.
It is the Irish Catholic edge of the 1st Congressional District represented by former Black Panther Defense Minister Rep. Bobby Rush. The Hawaiian-transplant, then State Senator Barack Obama, ran and lost his first race for Congress here in 2000. Salty newspaper reporters, Pulitzer Prize-winning political cartoonists, and Louis Farrakhan have lived here too. This is the politically-powerful 19th ward of Chicago. The borderline of civilization.
At least, it was powerful once. With Rahm Emanuel soon to be inaugurated (some would say coronated) mayor of Chicago, operatives wonder if any of the "old rules" will still apply. But has anything really changed?
For most of Chicago's rank and file, "turf" has had very little to do with political ideology. It has everything to do with survival: Who gets what? Or, more realistically, who gets not? For a paycheck and a retirement package, they'll believe anything you want. Global warming. Carbon credits to erase your carbon footprint. Government-run healthcare. Rights for garden vegetables. You name it.
Chicago-style progressivism also helps keep other disparate ethnic, racial, and other politically challenged factions toeing the line. Ultimately, the end-game is the same: consolidation of power into one government ruling class. That's why Democrat elites have never had a problem with classism. It's the politically correct form of discrimination. As a Chicago ward boss once said, "We don't want nobody nobody sent." Ain't it the truth.
This is the way it has been here for almost a century, ever since Anton Cermak, a Bohemian immigrant, defeated William Hale "Big Bill" Thompson, the last Republican mayor of Chicago, back in 1931. It is still the same machine of Richard J. Daley, the "Father," who ruled Chicago with an iron fist and a tangled tongue for 21 years from 1955 to 1976. The old school cops who live in Mount Greenwood, and who still keep the Old Man's photo on their mantels (along with JFK and the Pope), will tell you that. Outwardly, it's Barack Obama's machine. It's Rahm "Deadfish" Emanuel's machine. But it's really just the same machine.
The big difference now is that machine has gone global and, in 2012, the stakes are higher than they have ever been before. In order to defeat the Machine, you need to understand its components and its modus operandi.
So what are the lessons of the Chicago Way?
Lesson #1 of the Chicago Way: Power attracts the corruptible (especially if his name is Rahm).
Key Obama operatives and allies have moved from D.C. back to Chicago. Former White House deputy chief of staff Jim Messina is managing the President's $1 billion re-election effort from a 50,000 square foot headquarters at Chicago's One Prudential Plaza. Fortunately for Messina, there will be no need to worry about anymore legal trip wires of the Hatch Act or Sestak or Romanoff-style Jobgate hiccups.
David Axelrod, former Senior White House advisor and longtime friend of Mayor Richard M. Daley, the "Son," is here too.
Overseeing it all -- unofficially, of course -- is former White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel, who ascends the Chicago mayoral throne on May 16.
Rahm Emanuel. The same f-bomb bastard who made $18 million in two years as a Wall Street investment banker without any financial experience by leveraging his political contacts. The same steak knife-wielding, deadfish mobster wannabe who received $320,000 sitting not-so-pretty on Freddie Mac's do-nothing board and who looked the other way when the government-sponsored mortgage giant misreported billions in income to deceive investors. Freddie and Fannie Mae gave him an additional $50,000 for his first congressional campaign.
Just a few years later, collapsing under the deadweight of its subprime mortgage shell game, Freddie Mac's failure would be regarded as one of the precipitating event of the Housing Market Meltdown of 2008. As Emanuel infamously said once, "Never let a good crisis go to waste." He never has.
Lesson #2 of the Chicago Way: The law is not an obstacle.
The deal was obvious to everyone: A Daley in the White House for a Rahm in the Mayor's House. In January 2011, President Obama named William "Bill" Daley his White House chief of staff replacing Emanuel. All that was left was for Rahm to wrap up the mayoral election, making it easier for him to coordinate Obama's re-election effort. It was musical chairs -- machine-style.
Even Emanuel's lack of Chicago residency would prove not to be a stumbling block. In fact, the media's narrative would only serve to help him.
Thousands of Illinois candidates have been knocked of the ballot over the decades. It is casual Chicago political bloodsport. Back in 1995, Barack Obama forced his then-rival for Illinois State Senate Alice Palmer (who had endorsed Obama as her successor) and four other Democrat opponents off the ballot. Emanuel challenged his sole opponent in the 2004 Democrat primary, Mark A. Fredrickson, claiming he started gathering signatures too early.
In the 2011 elections, the Chicago Board of Elections knocked the only Republican candidate for mayor off the ballot because the Board conveniently lost "his" paperwork. He even had the filing receipt. An African-American candidate, Victor Rowans, received the ballot boot because he co-signed a car loan for a friend. The car incurred a $60 parking ticket unpaid at the time of the petition deadline and that was the end of Rowan's candidacy.
But Emanuel was different. For members of the government ruling class, a legal challenge to his candidacy was unacceptable. Nationally and in Chicago, the mainstream media cried "foul" and Emanuel, for the first time in his life, was officially granted "victimhood" status.
Rahm Emanuel, a victim?
In response to the legal challenge, Rahm advisors launched a "Let Rahm Run" campaign and the catchy slogan was immediately tagged as a headline in editorials throughout the country. It's nice when you have friends in the media, isn't it? Emanuel must have been laughing himself silly.
Lesson #3 of the Chicago Way: The Machine will reward you.
In the end, the Illinois Supreme Court reinstated Emanuel's name to the Chicago mayoral ballot after the appellate court knocked him off. Chicago cops, firemen, public school teachers, and city workers need to physically live in Chicago in order to work here. But the court reinterpreted the meaning of residency for Rahm Emanuel. After all, the law is not an obstacle.
On February 22, Emanuel won the election with 55% of the vote, avoiding a run-off. In total, Emanuel raised $14.5 million for his mayoral campaign from out-of-state contributors like Steven Spielberg, Donald Trump, and millions more from financial services and investment firms. For VIP tickets to his inaugural gala, Rahm is also charging $50,000 a pop. That gives you "special access" to "da Mayor."
Fair payment for services rendered to the Chicago machine.
Lesson #4 of the Chicago Way: Know your enemies.
Going into the 2012 election, that Machine has a number of moving parts.
One of those parts is A Better Chicago PAC, a 501(c)(4) tax-exempt organization, which does not require disclosure of contributors. The political action committee is headed-up by Greg Goldner. Goldner managed Emanuel's first congressional campaign, was a senior aide to Mayor Daley, managed his re-election in 2003, and was tapped by Obama for America to implement get out the vote and voter protection programs in Ohio. Back in March, the PAC funded print ads against Chris Christie in New Jersey in retaliation for Christie's anti-tax campaign in Illinois. The PAC also funneled $445,000 in cash to pro-Rahm Chicago aldermen during the election. The payoff continues.
Sean Sweeney, another Emanuel crony, is also the co-founder of the new group, Priorities USA Action, an independent organization to amass unlimited contributions and fund political ad campaigns using money from undisclosed sources with the goal of raising $100 million. It is co-founded by the former White House deputy press secretary Bill Burton with seed money from the Service Employees International Union and film producer Jeffrey Katzenberg. Hooray for Hollywood.
Other Obama political allies are around too including Penny Pritzker, the former national finance chair of Obama's 2008 presidential campaign. Emanuel has named Pritzker a board member to the Chicago Public Schools. She is currently the chair of the Chicago Public Education Fund, the successor organization to the Chicago Annenberg Challenge, the controversial public schools reform initiative spearheaded by Weatherman terrorist and former UIC professor, Bill Ayers, and chaired by Barack Obama.
Toni Preckwinkle, an early mentor to Barack Obama, was just elected President of Chicago's Cook County Board.
This is the advent of Barack Obama's new global Democrat machine and, make no mistake about it, Rahm Emanuel is still firmly at the controls. In 2011 and beyond, the lesson of knowing your enemies is one the Republican Party can't afford to fail.
Especially if they are from f---ing Chicago.