If President-elect Joe Biden is looking to make an unforced error in filling out his administration, he’s got the perfect opportunity.
As the transition to a new administration continues, there’s considerable speculation about how President-elect Joe Biden will fill out his administration, most of it focused on the personalities he will choose rather than the skills and viewpoints they will bring to the executive branch.
One thing’s for sure: There will be many familiar faces from the Obama and Clinton administrations. There’s nothing wrong with that — presidents are entitled to choose from among the many members of their team.
But one name prominently discussed should raise eyebrows among Biden supporters — former Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel.
He’s a jack of all trades in the politics department, a former chief of staff to President Barack Obama, member of Congress, adviser to President Bill Clinton and Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Chicago’s cut-throat school of politics.
Although Emanuel is problematic for a variety of reasons — his reputation as a bully, blowhard and jerk is undisputed — that’s not the biggest problem he poses for the Biden administration.
Here’s the problem in a nutshell — Emanuel was one of the architects of the failed cover-up of the unjustified 2014 fatal shooting of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald by Chicago police Officer Jason Van Dyke.
The record of what occurred — and what happened afterward — is as indefensible as it is disqualifying. There’s no way for Emanuel or his apologists to minimize or gainsay the facts; the video of what occurred and the political and legal maneuvering afterward told the whole story.
After the fatal shooting, city police officers went into cover-up mode. That was followed by the city’s attempt to block release of the video under the state’s freedom-of-information law. Then the mayor and city council reached a rushed and hushed-up $5 million settlement with McDonald’s family.
Everything fell apart after a judge ordered release of the video, especially Emanuel’s protests that he knew little to nothing about what occurred. If that is technically true, his ignorance was by design.
The Chicago Tribune politely explained that Emanuel’s “second term was dogged by allegations that he sought to keep the now-famous dashcam video of the incident from coming out until after he won election to a second term in 2015.”
The fallout ultimately ruined Emanuel’s plans for a third term as mayor. He was politically radioactive then, and he ought to be radioactive now because of his self-serving indifference to what occurred in the McDonald case.
When presidents stock their administrations, they are sending a message to the people of this country about what they stand for.
Nominating Emanuel for a seat in the Biden Cabinet (transportation secretary has been mentioned) would send exactly the wrong message in a time of heightened sensitivity on the issue of police-community relations. There are plenty of qualified Democrats other than Emanuel from whom Biden can choose. He should do himself a favor and leave Emanuel on the sidelines.