Last week, Hillary Clinton gave Rahm Emanuel her vote of confidence even after it became clear that the mayor’s administration deliberately withheld the video of the shooting of Laquan McDonald until after his re-election. This week, Chicagoans have a much different answer for the former adviser to Hillary’s husband. USA Today reports that a poll of Chicago voters puts Emanuel’s approval rate at a microscopic 18%, while a majority of respondents demand his resignation (via Newsalert):
A new poll published on Tuesday shows that more than half of Chicagoans believe Mayor Rahm Emanuel should resign in the aftermath of the release of a police dashboard video that shows a white police officer shooting a black teen 16 times.
More than 51% of likely voters said Emanuel should resign, while 29% said he should not step down, according to the poll commissioned by The Insider, a newsletter published by Illinois Observer.
Only 18% approved of how Emanuel is handling his job and 67% disapproved, according to the poll which was conducted by the Chicago firm Ogden & Fry. Meanwhile, 63.2% of respondents said they did not believe the mayor when he said he did not view the disturbing video of officer Jason Van Dyke shooting Laquan McDonald ahead of its public release.
The pollster offered a caveat to his one-day survey:
“Right now, you’re in the middle of a strong emotional response,” said pollster Tom Swiss. “I would be curious to how people are feeling in a month or two months.”
Well, maybe, but this isn’t just the day after, either. The video finally got released before Thanksgiving, a little over two weeks ago. It was a full week ago that Emanuel insisted he wouldn’t resign, and tried to quell the firestorm by firing a police superintendent over the shooting. Thus far, the “strong emotional response” does not appear to be receding, nor the political judgment which it has created.
Emanuel tried a new tack today — a public apology in a rare city council meeting speech:
“If we’re going to fix it, I want you to understand it’s my responsibility with you,” Emanuel said in a rare speech to the full City Council. “But if we’re also going to begin the healing process, the first step in that journey is my step, and I’m sorry.”
Emanuel, who has dismissed his police superintendent, parted ways with the head of the police shooting review agency and dropped opposition to the release of the McDonald shooting video during the last two weeks, framed up the situation as “a defining moment on the issues of crime and policing — and the even larger issues of truth, justice and race.”
The address of 40 minutes or so, coming during a crucial time of Emanuel’s tenure, was more of a political speech designed to assuage Chicagoans than one filled with specific plans that several aldermen called for this week to deal with entrenched problems in the Chicago Police Department. Those problems were highlighted nationally by the fatal shooting of 17-year-old McDonald by a white police officer, the 13 months it took for video of the incident to be made public by court order and for a murder charge to be brought only shortly before the video’s release.
Emanuel also told the council, “I own it,” but this public apology isn’t really owning it. He’s apologizing for it happening on his watch, a somewhat passive and impersonal allowance, especially since he’s been mayor for more than four years. Emanuel told the council, “We cannot shrink from the challenge any more than we can ignore the wrenching video of a troubled young man, a ward of the state of Illinois, failed by the system, surrounded by the police and gunned down on the streets of Chicago.” Emanuel somehow neglects to mention that he spent a full four years running that system while not just “shrinking from the challenge,” on top of which his system just so happened to bury that video long enough for Emanuel to win another four years.
That brings us back to Hillary Clinton, and for that matter Tammy Duckworth, who needs a big turnout in Chicago to beat Mark Kirk for his Senate seat. So far, Duckworth is keeping her powder dry on Emanuel:
While Senate candidate Rep. Tammy Duckworth (D., Ill.) called for the Chicago police superintendent to step down earlier this month, she has yet to comment on calls from Chicago constituents and Democratic lawmakers for Mayor Rahm Emanuel to resign as well.
According to a poll on Tuesday, over half of Chicagoans said Emanuel should step down, after questions were raised about how he handled the shooting death of Laquan McDonald, a black teenager killed by a police officer last year. …
Duckworth issued a carefully worded statement on Facebook last month after the video was released, but did not take a position on how the mayor’s office handled the issue.
“Investigations of this nature should of course be thorough and deliberate, but it is my hope that officials at every step of this process understand the public’s frustration and skepticism as to why this particular investigation has taken so long — and that real accountability and reform are pursued across Chicago’s criminal justice system,” said Duckworth.
With Democrats desperately needing a big turnout from the Machine in 2016, they can’t stay on the fence forever about Emanuel. Otherwise, Emanuel won’t be the only one owning the Laquan McDonald killing.