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Rahm's Time Magazine Portrait: He's Arrogant and Prickly But Not Stupid

By Erica Demarest | May 30, 2013 10:05am | Updated on May 30, 2013 10:16am
 Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel is on the cover of Time magazine's latest issue.
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel is on the cover of Time magazine's latest issue.
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CHICAGO — Mayor Rahm Emanuel is this week's Time magazine cover story, an overview of his tumultuous first term in which he is described as "arrogant, chesty, prickly, yes, but never stupid."

Headlined "Chicago Bull," the story depicts Chicago as "a cash-strapped city in a flat broke state" with budget, crime, racial, unemployment and infrastructure problems, a place of "mutual suspicion and failing schools."

The mayor is portrayed as up to the task.

"The decisions we make in the next two to three years will determine the face of Chicago for the next 30 years," Emanuel tells reporter David Von Drehle.

He is, indeed, prickly, when asked about Chicago's infamous murder problem, suggesting that the media operate with a pack mentality that disregards what he considers accomplishments in the city's fight against crime.

"You're all like birds jumping from the telephone wire," Emanuel tells the reporter.

Chicago Police Supt. Garry McCarthy argues that though May 6, the city experienced 102 murders compared with 167 in 2012 — "the best numbers since 1959."

Crime is down 11 percent from last year and 20 percent since Emanuel took office, McCarthy said.

Though Emanuel made his mark as a hardball player in the political world, he tells Time that he is now more interested in policy.

"I am a wonk desperate to get out of a hack's body," the mayor said.

He also repeats his assertion he has no interest in running for president, or again working in Washington, for that matter.

"I'm done with that," he says. "I worked eight years in the White House for two great presidents. They talk about things they want to do. I'm doing it. This is the happiest I've ever been in public life. I've always wanted to be mayor."

During a Thursday news conference, Emanuel embraced the way he was described by the magazine.

“I’m very bullish about Chicago. I’m bullish about our future… I’m bullish about a Chicago that has reached a milestone, where two years in a row, more kids are graduating high school than ever before," Emanuel said. "I’m bullish about a Chicago that has the largest graduating class from its community colleges in 20 years, about a city of Chicago that’s starting to tackle the tough issues."