Carol Felsenthal
On politics

Where Was Rahm During NATO Weekend?

Until late yesterday afternoon, when he summed up the success of the NATO summit in a press conference at the Office of Emergency Management, Rahm Emanuel was mostly missing from headlines. Instead, it was his Ravenswood house in the spotlight—after demonstrators protested outside the apparently unoccupied residence on Saturday, and news spread of a plot to firebomb it with a Molotov cocktail…

NATO protesters, Rahm Emanuel
 

Until late Monday afternoon, when he summed up the success of the NATO summit in a press conference at the Office of Emergency Management, Rahm Emanuel was mostly missing from headlines. Instead, it was his Ravenswood house in the spotlight—after demonstrators protested outside the apparently unoccupied residence on Saturday, and news spread of a plot to firebomb it with a Molotov cocktail.

The city official in the limelight was not the mayor—how unusual is that?—but police chief Garry McCarthy, out at the front of police lines, sans body armor and helmet, shouting orders to his troops. It was McCarthy’s day in the sun (and rain).

So what was Rahm up to all weekend?

His press secretary, Tarrah Cooper, emailed me a “sketch” of the mayor’s schedule, which shows him at 16 separate events between Friday and Tuesday.

Here are some highlights—excluding such social events as bowling with the foreign press corps and watching the Joffrey Ballet with NATO spouses—that make it seem as if the Mayor is auditioning to be our city’s first foreign minister:

Reception with “His Excellency Mark Rutte,” the Prime Minister of the Netherlands (at the Chicago Club); meeting with “The Right Honourable David Cameron,” Prime Minister of the United Kingdom (at the mayor’s office in City Hall); “business roundtable” with [Defense] Secretary Leon Panetta (at the newly named Waldorf Astoria); Meeting with Dr. Guido Westerwelle, Foreign Minister of the Federal Republic of German (again at the Waldorf); NATO ISAF Leaders Dinner (at the Field Museum); NATO Delegation Reception (hosted by Rahm at Navy Pier); NATO United States Permanent Representative’s Spouses Lunch (at the Art Institute); and “Tribute to Mestrovic Reception with Prime Minster of Croatia” (at the Santa Fe Building). Also, scheduled for this morning: reception with the president of the Republic of Turkey, “His Excellency Abdullah Gul” and, finally, meeting with the president of Poland.

On Monday morning, Rahm emerged at the Roosevelt CTA stop to shake hands with commuters and thank them for their patience during the NATO conference. And then, in his jubilant press conference late Monday afternoon—his first public comments—Emanuel gave his staccato takeaway from some of these meetings: The prime minister of the Netherlands “commented on the beauty of Millennium Park…and we discussed a cooperative agreement between our two water departments. We talked about making O’Hare the North American pub for the Dutch flower trade.” He added that the German foreign minister told him that Germany is interested in investments in the Chicago area and that German companies are “thinking about moving their North American headquarters here to the city of Chicago.”

The mayor enthused about world leaders commenting on “how beautiful the city was, and how clean our city was. They commented on the national architecture.” He also thanked the cops, calling them “the finest police department in the country.” As far as putting Chicago on the map, he compared “the largest NATO summit in 63 years” to the city’s hosting of the 1893 Columbian Exposition, boasting that “by hosting the… summit, we have reinforced, reaffirmed and revitalized Chicago’s role on the world stage.” Emanuel argued that, in the wake of the summit, the second city “title” can be retired—and that Chicago, the first American city outside of D.C. to host NATO, has “show[n] the world that we’re a world-class, first-class city.” 

 

Photography: (Protesters) Whet Moser; (Emanuel) Esther Kang

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