by John Kass | October 1, 2015 12:03 am
Hillary Clinton and Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel have so much in common, in politics, in truthiness, and now in their questionable use of private email.
They both know politics and muscle the Chicago Way.
They worked together in those Bill Clinton presidential years, Hillary as the first lady who wouldn’t bake cookies; Rahm as the servant, the future “leaker in chief” who would go so far as to send a dead fish to his enemies.
Oh, and did I mention that both are suspected of using private email accounts to shield their dealings from the public and from sunshine laws and Freedom of Information requests?
Hillary has her private email scandal, and now Rahm has his own private email issue. Both deny there is any issue — Rahm says he keeps all of his private and political business separate from his public work.
He stands accused of using private email as mayor of Chicago to shield dealings, raising some of the same questions that have followed Hillary about her email habits while secretary of state.
A great metropolitan newspaper — my Chicago Tribune — has filed a lawsuit to compel the mayor of Chicago to give up those private emails, so the public can learn how its money has been spent, and what went into the decisions that affect people in the city.
The use of private email by government officials makes a mockery of the people’s right to know what’s going on with their government and their money.
It’s as if Hillary and Rahm think government is their own private business.
But before anyone shouts “You didn’t build that!” consider how identical they are, Hillary and Rahm, like some political movie mom and son, but without common DNA.
And even as they ooze angelic sincerity, they’re difficult if not impossible to believe when they insist that they’re telling the truth.
Obvious in their cunning, each giving off a vengeful vibe, as if they’ll pay you back whether you want them to or not.
So they’re exactly like movie con artists, daring the rube to step into their game and figure it out. Yet by the time the rube does figure it out, the rube is toast.
“You’re thinking about some mom and son con-artist/buddy movie?” said my colleague Old School, a film buff who helps with the column.
How about “The Grifters II,” with Rahm as an older, tougher John Cusack and Hillary in the Anjelica Huston role?
Old School frowned, nixing that idea on Oedipal grounds.
“No, no, that’s way too dark. This needs something light. Hillary as the mom. Rahm as the kid,” he said. “Like they’re a hobo mother and son traveling the country, running flimflams on local rubes.”
Eureka, you’ve found it!
They drive across the Great Plains in a Kelly green Olds 98, blue skies, an eight-track on playing the Temptations, pulling scams, drinking sody-pop from glass bottles, tossing them out the window, not even recycling.
“I’m thinking more of a ‘Paper Moon’ with Hillary as the adult and Rahm as the son,” said Old School. “They set up a table and hide the email server under one of three shells.”
Dang it. He had to bring me back to the reality of those secret private email accounts.
And that’s too bad because I’d just started seeing them driving that green beater 98, playing their games, conning people out of valuables, maybe Rahm convincing a lonely, chunky, embittered woman to give up her wooden leg for love in a Flannery O’Connor bit.
Or, what if the befuddled owner of a diner empties his till into Hillary’s battered felt hat, insisting they take it, take it all?
Hillary in the passenger seat, saying, “Oh, no, I just can’t accept this!” as Rahm comes running, a wooden leg under his arm, loud banjo music on the soundtrack.
Rahm fumbling with the keys, then gunning it, saying “Gee thanks, Mister!” as the one-legged woman hops up to the diner man, tells him what happened and he starts blasting away with a shotgun.
But they’re down that dirt road apiece, dust flying, too far away for the diner owner’s stupid shotgun to reach. They’re gone.
Then we had to get back to the private email business, didn’t we? So let’s do it.
It turns out that in 2009, as the first of two Chicago Way chiefs of staff for President Barack Obama, Rahm asked for Hillary Clinton’s private email address.
So did Hillary give Rahm the idea, or vice versa?
Now the mayor of Chicago says he keeps his political email separate from his government email and asks us to believe him.
“Well … I would just say that as a preference I prefer to be on the phone so I can use all my colorful and very precise and persuasive language,” Emanuel told Chicago public-television station WTTW.
“But I have a practice that my political and personal (business) stays on my private email and city business is on the government and that’s how I operate.”
Sure you do.
And someday you will grow into a real boy, and few will remember that other Mayor Emanuel made of wood.
“It’s like a drip, drip, drip, and that’s why I said that there’s only so much that I can control,” Hillary Clinton the victim said on “Meet the Press.”
When asked whether she used her private email to shield her messages from Congress and the people, Hillary laughed it off as “another conspiracy theory.”
“It’s totally ridiculous,” she said. “That never crossed my mind,” she said.
Of course it didn’t. It never crossed your mind. And Rahm keeps everything separate. Just believe it.
You can barely see the taillights of that green beater Olds, driving away, banjo music, the two of them high-fiving, getting away, as we rubes watch them go.
(John Kass is a columnist for the Chicago Tribune. His e-mail address is [email protected], and his Twitter handle is @john_kass.)
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