Commentary / Coronavirus

Everyone is a Critic – Starting with Rahm Emanuel

Rahm Emanuel

The gall of perennial critics never ceases, even in a crisis – especially in a crisis. On March 22, Democrat Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel lectured the nation on how President Trump was not managing the global coronavirus crisis properly. The hypocrisy requires comment. 

Rahm Emmanuel, former Chicago mayor and 19-month chief-of-staff to President Obama, distinguished himself as a Machiavellian in 2008 – spouting “never let a crisis go to waste,” meaning be politically expedient or opportunistic when others are distracted suffering.  

This is not how most Americans think, not how they define service, honor, or integrity. Emmanuel took the principle from Machiavelli’s The Prince and more insidious tracts. 

The suggestion one uses deceit and guile to win against political opponents during a national crisis is not new. The principle suffuses Saul Alinsky’s 1971 primer “Rules for Radicals,” aimed at upending the Constitution, tracking Marxist maxims, radicalizing the American population. 

Rahm Emanuel and his ilk aim to unseat President Trump’s leadership by using this crisis to their own benefit. Emanuel’s hypocrisy is outsized, once you review the facts. 

On national television, Emanuel spits criticism – Democrat talking points undermining President Trump’s crisis management. This weekend, he asserted Trump was late to declare an emergency, late to protect Americans from the Chinese-origin pandemic – all Trump’s fault. 

How rich is this? As Mayor of Chicago from February 2011 to May 2019, Emanuel failed to manage three crises, one in education, one law enforcement, one in violent crime.  

During Chicago’s 2012 education crisis, when teachers struck for the first strike in 25 years, paralyzing public education – Emanuel literally left town. When the Chicago Teachers Union learned he withheld money from schools, he dodged, weaved, and dissembled.  

During Chicago’s rolling law enforcement crisis, Rahm Emanuel modeled how not to behave – how not to manage a crisis. Even NBC described his relationship with law enforcement as “fraught,” which was charitable under the circumstances.  

Why? In 2014, a fatal shooting triggered outrage. The need was for calm, thoughtful leadership. Instead, Emanuel created panic, distancing himself from law enforcement, blaming them, then confiding in them, firing, rehiring, and violating Chicago’s own Police Board rules. The result was a riptide in the community and more stirring of national prejudices. His “legitimacy,” decision-making and integrity were all questioned. 

The third crisis was unforgivable. Under Emanuel, Chicago became a violent, deadly place – the nation’s murder capital. Three-quarters of the way through 2016, Chicago recorded more than 3000 shootings, 500 murders, countless personal and property crimes.  

At the apex of Emanuel’s Chicago leadership, it became more violent than any time in two decades. The Mayor took zero responsibility for the carnage, which killed more people by a factor of seven – than have died nationally from coronavirus. 

The self-satisfied Democrat and “crisis expert” critiques Trump’s hands-on, expert-fed, team-led approach, imagining he has a crisis he “cannot waste” – and must blame on Trump. From Rahm Emanuel to New York’s Mayor de Blasio, the lure of fixing blame on Trump is too strong. 

The hypocrisy is glaring, especially re-looking Emanuel’s time as Obama’s Chief of Staff. He assumed the post in late 2008, left late 2010. Return to that short period of service. What happened in that time? How did the Chief of Staff and his erstwhile boss respond? 

In April 2009, the H1N1 virus scared the nation and rippled around the world. Another health-related gift from China, it was declared a “pandemic” by the World Health Organization. 

Rahm Emanuel and President Obama faced a decision, aggressively seek to stop it or let it go. They let it go. No presidential task force, presidential leadership, daily briefs. It appeared on their watch and was their responsibility, but taking ownership raised liabilities. It might have become an albatross, might be blamed on them, so they ignored it.  

Emanuel’s unspoken corollary: If a crisis is one which might be blamed on you, do not talk about it. Blame it on factors outside control. Let it run its course – and you run the other way. 

That is precisely what Rahm Emanuel – and his former boss – did. They did not declare a public health emergency until six months after the “pandemic” was declared. By that time, the virus had already killed more than 1,000 Americans. Not their problem.  

Like the “novel” coronavirus, H1N1 stemmed from animals –in that case, swine. It was described by the CDC as a “unique combination of influenza virus genes never previously identified in either animals or people,” and was easily transmissible. Vulnerable Americans succumbed; the mortality rate climbed. 

Even so, the Emanuel-led White House chose to ignore it, until it could no longer be ignored. The comeback might be they delegated leadership to CDC, but that is rich. Real leaders lead – which means they are at the front, ahead, responsible in fact, not blame-shifting. 

Net-net, the self-satisfied Mayor and former chief of staff, should review his facts before lashing out – trying to squeeze political gain from a national crisis. What he is doing looks disingenuous, dishonest, partisan, and disreputable. That kind of gutless “leadership” is not what the nation needs – or ever needed. 

President Trump is modeling crisis leadership – and management. He is thinking “now” and “future,” inspiring collective action, sharing credit with foes for advances, listening to experts, communicating honestly with the American people – all of which will save, not cost lives. 

The bottom line is Trump’s crisis response is inspiring confidence. His actions are textbook for beating an “invisible adversary,” one that challenges assumptions, history, and systems, one that requires calm, continued analysis and dexterity. 

Winston Churchill once noted, “Success is the ability to go from failure to failure without losing your enthusiasm.” He knew about that, had done so in the Battle of Britain and other crises.

Churchill knew leadership was hard, critics innumerable, all sure they could do better. He knew he was the leader – as Trump knows that he, in our time and this crisis, is the leader.  

Like Churchill, Trump is blunt, determined, tireless, and leading. He is communicating, perpetually reassessing, acting, relying on deep-seated experts, helping navigate the crisis.  

Our job, in the face of robust crisis-management, is not to become partisan critics, but to do our part as citizens. It is unglamorous, not what Machiavelli, Obama, or Emanuel would do, but “the right thing.” We are Americans – that means we must pull together to defeat enemies, not apart. Enough said.  

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