Carol Felsenthal
On politics

David Brooks Sends Rahm Emanuel an Early Valentine—Again

Days after Rahm Emanuel left his job as chief of staff on October 1st to return here to run for mayor, New York Times columnist David Brooks wrote the “The Soft Side.” The column was weirdly worded—“Flawed like all of us, [Rahm] is a full human being, rich and fertile from the inside out”—and provided plenty of easy laughs for Brooks/Rahm detractors. Today, Brooks did it again…

When New York Times columnist David Brooks and Rahm Emanuel were both working in Washington, the two seemed to have had a good thing going: Rahm fed David snippets of stuff happening in the White House, and David presumably took some of them and used them in his column. (Brooks wrote that he was one of many whom Rahm would call—in his case “a few times a week”—brief calls but affording “enough time for him to tout some speech or policy initiative.”

Days after Rahm left his job as chief of staff on October 1st to return here to run for mayor, Brooks wrote the tribute from which I took the above quote. Titled “The Soft Side,” it was weirdly worded—“Flawed like all of us, [Rahm] is a full human being, rich and fertile from the inside out”—and provided plenty of easy laughs for Brooks/Rahm detractors.

Gawker’s Jim Newell: “Before Emanuel’s White House departure …, he would call David Brooks … to spin, … hoping that Brooks could relay the administration’s agenda …. Brooks loved the attention from a powerful person! And today, he has memorialized his far-away love, the one who slipped away to a Chicago mayoral race, with a paean of the most tender kisses.

Huffington Post’s Jason Linkins:  Riffing off Brooks’ use of the word “fertile,” Linkins goes Brooks one better—or worse: “Rahm Emanuel is a womb, straight up bursting with fecundity.” 

New York Observer’s Aaron Gell: “…extra-mushy paean to Rahm Emanuel, which is perhaps the most embarrassingly heartfelt eruption of guy-love ever published by the paper.”  

Today, two weeks before the election that could make Rahm mayor, Brooks sent another valentine, in a column titled “The Splendor of Cities.” He describes chasing Rahm “down an icy Chicago street,” as the candidate campaigns door-to-door. In his October column, Brooks had described Rahm as “an urban cowboy,” and revisits that motif here.

In his leather jacket and jeans, Rahm defies the miserable weather, and he’s so happy doing it—“glowing, bouncing, reminiscing and hugging.” Potential voters, “in sweatpants” are delighted when Rahm shows up at their door—“sometimes wrapping him in an embrace and sometimes bringing their kids out to pose for pictures.”

If Rahm doesn’t get the 50 percent-plus vote on Feburary 22nd and gets stuck with a runoff on April 5th, could there be another Brooks’ valentine to come?

I hope not, because I generally admire Brooks’ writing and analysis. And he knows Chicago, having come from New York to college at the University of Chicago, followed by a stint as a police reporter at the City News Bureau. He is capable of writing a serious analysis of the Chicago race, and these columns don’t add up to one.

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