David Axelrod: Chicago Tribune Being Mean to Rahm Emanuel

Friday, 09 May 2014 05:51 PM

By Sean Piccoli

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A political ally of Rahm Emanuel scolded the Chicago Tribune on Friday for being "snide" to the famously sarcastic and short-tempered Democratic mayor, whose reputation for belittling people is matched by his readiness to fight his own battles.

Even so, David Axelrod — like Emanuel a former adviser to Presidents Barack Obama and Bill Clinton — penned a column in Friday’s Tribune defending his fellow Chicagoan from "a snide and gratuitous screed on the performance of our current mayor."

Axelrod was reacting to a column on Wednesday by the Tribune’s Kristen McQueary with the provocative title, "Emanuel’s arrogance exceeds his accomplishments."

It depicted the tough-talking mayor as a "walking personality disorder" who regularly jets off to Washington, D.C., while Chicago drowns in debt and reels under a wave of gang violence.

"Maybe he ought to spend more time here, in his city," McQueary wrote.

It was arguably language that Emanuel understands.

But Axelrod cried foul, writing that while he appreciates "fair commentary, even when it singes," in this case he took "strong exception."

Axelrod also waved his own résumé — as a City Hall reporter for the Tribune back in the day, "when a mayor tried to eject our bureau chief from the building as punishment for our forceful coverage."

He went on to complain that McQueary "dismisses with a line" the mayor’s school reform accomplishments and "minimizes" his efforts to rein in the city’s pension costs. Axelrod seemed particularly upset at the suggestion that Emanuel is "indifferent" to the violence afflicting Chicago’s inner city.

"And if McQueary believes the mayor does not spend time in these neighborhoods, perhaps she should leave Tribune Tower from time to time and travel the city with him," he wrote.

"I don't pretend Rahm Emanuel is a perfect man or perfect mayor because I don't believe there is such a being, in or out of politics," Axelrod concluded. "What he is, though, is an energetic, skillful, and committed leader who is taking on very difficult challenges to move Chicago forward."

Granted, in his own unique way. Another Friday column on Emanuel asked, "Can Mayor Prickly ever become Mayor Personable"?

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