The Fish Rots From the Head in Chicago

Why aren’t President Obama and Hillary Clinton demanding Rahm Emanuel’s head?

AP Photo/Christian K. Lee
Ron Fournier
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Ron Fournier
Dec. 2, 2015, 8:50 a.m.

Pres­id­ent Obama needs to mail Rahm Emanuel a dead fish in a box. Hil­lary Clin­ton should de­liv­er it. For the in­teg­rity of the party that rep­res­ents a vast ma­jor­ity of black voters, Demo­crat­ic lead­ers every­where need to send the Chica­go may­or a mes­sage: You’re dead to us.

A long­time lieu­ten­ant for the Clin­ton fam­ily and former chief of staff in the Obama White House, Emanuel nev­er hes­it­ated to muscle weak or dis­loy­al Demo­crats out of power. It’s time to flip the script on the en­for­cer nick­named “Rahmbo.”

Emanuel once sent a poll­ster who was late de­liv­er­ing a sur­vey res­ult a dead fish in a box. The night Bill Clin­ton won the 1992 pres­id­en­tial elec­tion, his aides were cel­eb­rat­ing around a pic­nic table when Emanuel picked up a knife and shouted the names of politi­cians who had “f****ed us.” After each name, Emanuel de­clared, “Dead man!”

I’ve got noth­ing against Emanuel. I’ve known him since 1992 and be­nefited from his stra­tegic leaks in the Clin­ton White House. And I know this: Emanuel epi­tom­izes a brand of polit­ics that puts loy­alty and elect­or­al suc­cess above all else. He was edu­cated in the school of Clin­ton, where the ends jus­ti­fy the means, and ruled the Obama White House when it ca­pit­u­lated to the cul­ture of Wash­ing­ton that his boss had vowed to fight.

And then off he went to Chica­go, a his­tor­ic­ally cor­rupt city with a po­lice de­part­ment known for hid­ing mis­con­duct and bru­tal­ity.

On Oct. 20, 2014, po­lice of­ficer Jason Van Dyke fired 16 times at 17-year-old Laquan Mc­Don­ald, killing him. The next day, a po­lice de­part­ment state­ment claimed the teen­ager was shot while ap­proach­ing po­lice of­ficers. That was a lie.

A dash-cam video that au­thor­it­ies had ac­cess to with­in hours of the shoot­ing shows Mc­Don­ald hold­ing a knife and veer­ing away from of­ficers when he was shot. Why did the po­lice de­part­ment claim oth­er­wise? Why wasn’t the video re­leased to the pub­lic? Why didn’t the city in­vest­ig­ate the fact that 86 minutes of oth­er video sur­veil­lance foot­age of the crime scene was sus­pi­ciously miss­ing?

The most lo­gic­al con­clu­sion is that po­lice wanted to duck ac­count­ab­il­ity and Emanuel wanted to avoid los­ing his Feb. 24, 2015 reelec­tion amid na­tion­al un­rest over a po­lice shoot­ing in Fer­guson, Mis­souri.

The may­or nar­rowly won a second term after an April 7 run­off. Eight days later, the city made pub­lic a pree­mpt­ive $5 mil­lion set­tle­ment with the Mc­Don­ald fam­ily, an agree­ment reached quietly weeks pri­or. Emanuel’s team made sure to in­clude a clause that kept the video con­fid­en­tial.

Fight­ing a freel­ance journ­al­ist’s law­suit seek­ing the video, Emanuel ar­gued that re­leas­ing it might taint a fed­er­al in­vest­ig­a­tion. That was a lie. The Justice De­part­ment has said it did not ask the city to with­hold the video.

“That makes this whole epis­ode look like an at­tempt by the city, the po­lice and pro­sec­utors to keep the video un­der wraps, know­ing the polit­ic­al prob­lems it would most likely cre­ate,” reads a New York Times ed­it­or­i­al that ac­cused Emanuel of “will­ful ig­nor­ance” in “the cov­er-up.”

More than a year after the shoot­ing, a county judge ordered the city to re­lease the video. Only then was the of­ficer charged with Mc­Don­ald’s murder.

Emanuel on Tues­day fired po­lice su­per­in­tend­ent Garry Mc­Carthy, not be­cause one of his of­ficers shot a man 16 times as he walked away from po­lice or be­cause his de­part­ment covered it up. No, Emanuel fired Mc­Carthy be­cause he had be­come “a dis­trac­tion.”

Emanuel prom­ised to start equip­ping of­ficers with body cam­er­as and to ap­point a task force to in­vest­ig­ate the po­lice de­part­ment. But it’s too late.

Chica­goans have seen how far Emanuel’s ad­min­is­tra­tion will go to hide an em­bar­rass­ing video.

They won’t trust a task force ap­poin­ted by this may­or.

They know a fish rots from the head.

The world is watch­ing, too, and won­der­ing wheth­er the party that rep­res­ents most blacks and most big cit­ies can clean its own house. Lord knows there would be howls from the Left had a GOP may­or been so “will­fully ig­nor­ant,” so tone deaf and mor­ally cor­rupt in the death of a black teen­ager. And they would be jus­ti­fied.

A Chica­go cop killed a teen­ager and Emanuel ad­min­is­tra­tion f***ed with the evid­ence. Pick up the rhet­or­ic­al knife, Demo­crats, and aim it at Rahmbo: dead man.

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