Cabinet Positions, Cover-ups, and Confronting Disparities
Does the Laquan McDonald cover-up permanently disqualify Former Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel from future public service?
Democratic president-elect Joe Biden didn’t promise a post-Trump “return to normalcy”, but he did promise to return professionalism and expertise to the executive branch. Therefore, Biden considered former Chicago mayor, Rahm Emanuel, for a cabinet position. Emanuel has a mixed track record, but a mixed track record isn’t a bad report card, unless there’s a scandal.
Emanuel’s detractors insisted his handling of the Laquan McDonald police shooting disqualified him from the new administration that has pledged to combat systemic racism. (McDonald was a black teenager with a knife and he was shot by a white police officer.)
The Chicago Sun-Times reported, “Attorneys for the city fought against the release of the video that showed the 17-year-old’s murder, only to have a Cook County judge order it release months after Emanuel had secured his second term in a runoff election.” After the video was seen the New York Times reported, “Cover-ups of misconduct had rarely been made so plain as in the discrepancy between the officers’ account of the killing and what the video later showed.” (Sixteen officers provided false statements, exaggerating the threat posed by McDonald.)
Emanuel decided not to run for reelection. The McDonald scandal cost him a third term. The police officer that shot McDonald was convicted of second-degree murder, and three other police officers were charged with conspiracy, official misconduct, and obstruction of justice, but all three were acquitted of the cover-up charges. (Chicago City Council approved a $5 million settlement for McDonald’s family before the family even thought of filing a wrongful-death lawsuit. Part of the settlement required for the video to remain sealed until the investigation was complete. This part is never included with the rest of the cover-up.)
A politician’s mixed track record often includes inexcusable events.
Others have argued the Laquan McDonald scandal disqualified Emanuel from public service for good. This argument has merit, especially for those that moralize at their own convenience. Hillary Clinton took responsibility for the security lapse in Benghazi resulting in the death of the US Ambassador to Libya after a terrorist attack. Benghazi turned into a huge scandal. Sen. John McCain described the events as either a “massive cover-up or incompetence.” Whether it was a massive cover-up or incompetence, it didn’t disqualify Clinton from becoming the 2016 Democratic nominee for president, as a matter of fact, Clinton was labeled the most experienced presidential candidate in history, even though she had no major accomplishments during her career in public service.
If the inexcusable events of Clinton’s mixed-track record were overlooked because of her experience, then there’s a case to be made for Emanuel, especially for an administration that pledged to combat systemic racism.
Those that wish to eradicate systemic racism prove its existence by pointing out disparities, but these wishful thinkers rarely confront the root causes of disparities.
In Rahm Emanuel’s book, The Nation City: Why mayors are now running the world, he stated education reform was the single most important thing he did as mayor of Chicago, education was key to solving the most pressing issue in America — income inequality.
Emanuel explained, when he was first elected, Chicago was the only major city in the country that did not have a full-day kindergarten. Chicago also had the shortest school day and the shortest school year in the country. Emanuel wrote, “It drove me absolutely crazy, that based on school hours, kids in Houston were getting three years more education from kindergarten to twelfth grade than our students in Chicago. Nearly 80 percent of our 381,000 public school kids are at the poverty line or below, and there was no way that cycle of poverty had a chance of being broken with the shortest school day and year in the country.”
Those disparities weren’t caused by systemic racism, but those disparities needed to be eradicated to confront income inequality.
Emanuel eradicated them.
The Laquan McDonald scandal may disqualify Emanuel for a cabinet position, but the notion that he’s not suitable for an administration that pledged to combat systemic racism is absurd.