Can Mayor Prickly ever become Mayor Personable?

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Chicago Tribune columnist John Kass talks Mayor Emanuel's likability.

Is it possible to make Mayor Rahm Emanuel even the teeniest bit likable?

I desperately want to help him, and I know you do too, because one look at the guy and you know he needs help, but he's too full of pride and arrogance and fear of showing even the tiniest weakness to ask us.

So I ask on his behalf: How can we make Mayor Prickly into Mayor Personable?

The way he's been acting lately, the idea of making a likable fellow out of Rahm seems impossible. He's already being compared with former Mayor Jane Byrne, whose combativeness drove the whole city crazy. They have that same style. Absolute fear wrapped in rice-paper toughness.

But I'm not the Dr. Albert Schweitzer/Mahatma Gandhi of Chicago columnists for nothing. I know you feel the love for the mayor as do I. So the other morning, when I ran into a group of cops on the street having coffee, I asked them:

How can we make the mayor likable?

They didn't say a thing. After a few seconds of looking at their shoes, one cop said, "We got nothin'."

Well, I said, maybe the mayor can walk the neighborhoods and say hi to all the kids and give them treats.

"Way too creepy," said one cop. "All the parents would complain."

Another piped up: "How do you make him human? First human, then likable."

But he is human. He's flawed. He's tortured. And trapped inside that Mayor Prickly shell is a good and decent man waiting to come out. I might get him a copy of "How to Win Friends and Influence People" to begin the exorcism.

"He can pay his speeding tickets just like everybody else!" said another cop.

Then another officer piped up.

"I got it!" he shouted. "A dunk tank! Just put a dunk tank outside City Hall. Let him sit up there. Think of the money he'd raise. And we could put it toward our pensions he'll screw us outta."

But he'd never go for it. The man wanted to be seen as ruthless and effective. And with gangs overwhelming some neighborhoods, the ruthlessly effective thing isn't working too well.

I warned him about the deficit in his Likability Bank two years ago. He ignored me and continued behaving in that haughty, brittle way of his, like Captain Queeg ready to snap if he didn't find the stolen strawberries.

Then Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis started mopping the alleys with him, and it was too late.

These days, he's released another persona: Mayor Antoinette.

Emanuel's official city vehicles have received 17 red light camera tickets and three speed camera warnings, according to ABC-7 reporter Ben Bradley, who found that all the tickets were dismissed. The mayor is a big supporter of those demonic revenue/spy cameras, but he wouldn't directly answer a question about whether his own tickets should have been paid.

We all have to pay. But the mayor won't pay? That's an arrogant, let-them-eat-cake moment if I ever saw one.

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