Emanuel Is Not in Trouble

In reaction to the reports of flagging union support for Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and an apparent viable opponent in the person of CTU president Karen Lewis, Joe Gandelman writes:

So much for having him being seen as a political whirlwind who’ll easily serve many years as Chicago’s mayor. Rahm Emanuel has hit a political speed-bump. Part of it is due to the blood-fest that descended on Chicago on the 4th of July. And part of it is because no one has ever accused his political style of being endearing or even in power-politics terms utterly irresistible.

But the bottom line is this: one new poll has his political numbers are tanking faster than a new van of pet fish being unloaded at PetCo. And you can tell his side is worried when they respond as partisans almost always do: questioning the methodology of a poll that shows them in a bad light.

His analysis:

Yes, his problem has been arrogance – and merely dismissing a poll by questioning how it’s conducted could provide proof when voters go to the polls that further arrogance when it comes to the seriousness of your political situation could be hazardous to your political health and long-term political ambitions.

I disagree with that. Arrogance has never been a barrier to Chicago mayors being elected and re-elected, term after term. As I’ve written before, Rahm Emanuel has Peter Principled out.

To refresh your memory, the Peter Principle, first enunciated by Laurence Peter, is the proposition that in a large, hierarchical organization people tend to be promoted to their “level of incompetence”. Not their maximum level of competence, mind you. Their level of incompetence.

It stands to reason after a fashion. Pay and status aren’t determined by productivity or even your value to the organization but by the your job title, description, and seniority. The most effective mailroom clerk isn’t paid more than the least effective. The most senior, who may or may not be more effective, is paid more. The reason for this is obvious: it’s easier to administer.

As Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel is so far beyond his level of competence it is stomach-churning. His election as mayor is a sad illustration of how far being a top Democratic Party fund-raiser will take you. Raising money is a necessary skill in politics today but it doesn’t make you a good mayor of Chicago.

However, incompetence, too, is no barrier to holding high elective office for year after year. And Mayor Emanuel doesn’t depend on local resources for his campaign fund so local funds drying up that won’t be a problem, either.

My own view is that I don’t think that Rahm Emanuel has the time to be the mayor of Chicago. He’s too busy raising money for the party and will be heavily involved in the presidential campaign of whoever ends up running for president on the Democratic ballot.

But given the power of incumbency and his large war chest pronouncing his re-election in trouble is, well, an exaggeration. The only thing he has to fear is a large voter turnout.

1 comment… add one
  • Guarneri

    “However, incompetence, too, is no barrier to holding high elective office for year after year.”

    A lot of that going around……..

    In any event, I bet he wins. And that speaks volumes about voter, uh, tendency to self immolate. I happen to think the joint is at a tipping point – the whole state – where those who can are and will leave, and those who can’t will be left holding the bag, many pulling the same old lever all the way. Maybe the Bulls will be renamed the Pistons.

    I’ve spent a lot of time in Indianapolis recently. Economically its a different world. And despite the views of a certain commenter that residents of a state like Indiana are rubes, when one listens to the politicians of both stripes they make IL pols seem cartoonish.

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