If there is any photojournalistic exercise in the gymnastics of Chicago politics (or any assignment for that matter), it is finding that angle, that moment, or that scoop no one else has. My biggest coup to this end on the Chicago politics beat was when The New York Times helped secure exclusive access to former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich during his impeachment proceedings on January 29, 2009. But the show must go on.
Rahm Emanuel raises his right hand before testifying at his residency hearing concerning his eligibility to run for mayor of Chicago in a basement Chicago Board of Elections conference room in Chicago, Ill. on December 14, 2010.
And for some highlights from the day, courtesy of my old high school friend Eric Johnson, now a stringer for Reuters here in Chicago:
Shown photographs of his North Side home largely emptied of furniture, Emanuel identified various rooms and then jabbed at his interlocutor when asked to identify the kitchen.
“Very good Mr. Odelson. You pass U.S. history for $200,” Emanuel joked.
Outgoing Chicago Mayor Richard Daley and other defenders of the famously combative political operative have said the hearing is a sham and Emanuel was serving his country in Washington, but others say the objection to Emanuel’s candidacy in the February 22 election is legitimate.
One woman attending the hearing announced loudly she had heard enough when one of Emanuel’s questioners asked how often he had visited the city in the past year.
“Boo, boo,” the woman shouted. “You are making a circus of state law. Your hearing is out of order,” she said before being escorted out.
“The nuthouse is open,” another woman commented.
Final note: All politics is local indeed. Emanuel is a 1981 graduate of Sarah Lawrence College, where I graduated from in 2006. During the brief chronology of the life of Rahm Emanuel that he presented on the stand today under questioning by attorney Burt Odelson, I was the only person in the room to make that “raise the roof” gesture when Emanuel said he went to Sarah Lawrence. Somewhere, probably in Bronxville, New York, Professor Jefferson Adams was smiling.