The Real Rahm Emanuel

The would-be Chicago mayor is actually kind of nice, says a New York Times Magazine profile

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For those who don't know, Rahm Emanuel is not usually the most charming guy in the room. He can be testy. He gets angry easily. He has mailed dead-fishes to people that he doesn't like. But he must have something going for him: Scott Turow profiles Emanuel's candidacy for Chicago mayor in the latest New York Times Magazine, noting that Rahm began the race with support around "7 percent," in September, good enough for fifth place in an early mayoral poll. Come January Emanuel was clearly leading the race, and despite numerous court injunctions questioning his status as a resident of the city is now the favorite to win the office. Turnow makes a strong case that Emanuel isn't necessarily who you think he his.

Perception: Rahm as 'Hyper-aggresive'

Reality: He may come across as "egocentric," "aloof," "abrupt" and "wary," but Rahm's can be a "soft-spoken, polite and responsive candidate," Turow says. He relates the story of Emanuel's composure as he sat patiently through 12 hours of proceedings around his residence in Chicago while ignoring the bait thrown by lawyers and rambling speeches of objectors.

Perception: Rahm the Political Mastermind

Reality: Describing Rahm's demeanor during some old-fashioned hand-shaking at a CTA el stop, Turow writes that Emanuel "does not have the same natural social gifts of most politicians." Furthermore "he has repeatedly offended important people in Chicago's political circles." That said, he does have the important connections that helped him secure over $10 million in fundraising, "more than was raised by all of the other mayoral candidates combined."

Perception: Rahm the Heartless

Turnow portrays Emanuel as a family-oriented man with the ability to connect and relate to a wide-range of people, noting that he kept a picture of his family on his table during the residency trial. Emanuel has "plans to hold office hours in supermarkets." He also is fairly religious: he has a "deep sense of justice that I think comes very much from his Judaism," Turow quotes Jan Schakowsky, a Democratic rep from Illinois, as saying. Emanuel's support from Chicago's African-American population is worth noting as well. "Emanuel was scoring particularly well with black women, many of whom say they appreciate a white man's giving up a position of power in order to serve an African-American president."

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