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Perhaps Emanuel is Just a Slow Learner

Don Rose 15 December 2015 One Comment

It seems that I and much of the world have misjudged Mayor Rahm Emanuel. The legend is that he is one very smart guy, but recent events call that into question.

I’m not saying he is dumb, but rather what we used to call a “slow learner.” He just doesn’t get things as quickly and easily as most folks. It’s also possible that he suffers from the fashionable malady called adult attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)–though I’m not qualified to make a clinical diagnosis.


What leads me to these conclusions? First, he has been mayor for nearly five years. Before going to Washington in the Obama Administration, he was a three-term congressman representing a large part of Chicago’s North Side. Earlier in his career he was a fundraiser and advisor to Mayor Richard M. Daley’s winning campaign in 1989–and before that a fundraiser and publicist for a Chicago-based consumer protection organization.

You would think with that background he might long ago have learned a few things about this city. But in his recent, melodramatic apologia for the Laquan McDonald murder, he apparently just discovered that the police treat black kids on the South Side differently than they would treat him. His voice actually broke when he shared this remarkable fact with us. A faster learner might have absorbed the idea somewhat earlier–perhaps in the Daley campaign, surely as a congressman, or certainly early in his first term as mayor. Some of us have suspected this for decades, but perhaps we qualify as fast learners.

Guess what else he just discovered and decided to share: The police have a code of silence that protects cops who have done wrong.

Was this also a matter of slow learning?

Maybe not. Here’s where the attention deficit disorder may come into play.

The first official reference to the police code of silence was brought up in the verdict in the case of Anthony Abbate, the off-duty cop who unmercifully beat up a woman bartender and was found guilty two years ago in federal court. The mayor and his corporation counsel tried unsuccessfully the have the reference to the code of silence expunged from the jury’s record.

After that, approximately a year ago, the judge in R. J. Vanecko’s trial for killing David Koschman made official note in the finding that there existed a code of silence within the police force that kept the case from coming to trial for years. This was the first-ever judicial ruling officially confirming the code’s existence.

What did Emanuel and the city’s top lawyer do? They made extensive but unsuccessful legal pleas to have the judge expunge reference to the code of silence from the record. So we must presume that Emanuel first became aware of the code then, but it just slipped his mind, the way things get away from ADHD sufferers.

We are told that hyperactivity, inattention and impulsiveness are the primary earmarks of the disorder. Well, there is no question that he is hyperactive. The journalist Jim Warren, in covering

Emanuel, frequently referred to him as “the missile.”

The respected website “WebMD” further notes that ADHD patients “Have a hard time paying attention to details” and often don’t pay attention to others. Sound like any mayor you know?

Instead of condemning Emanuel, perhaps he deserves our compassion and pity as a slow learner and possible ADHD patient. At least until our record-breaking property tax bills come due later next year.

Don Rose is a regular columnist for the Chicago Daily Observer

One Comment »

  • Anonymous said:

    ” The police have a code of silence that protects cops who have done wrong.”

    Sort of like suburban police departments have a code of silence that protects the children of affluent parents who have done wrong. It works both ways. Et tu.

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