One Police Plaza

Garry McCarthy: Chicago's Surprise Candidate?

September 25, 2017

Garry McCarthy for Mayor of Chicago? No joke, folks.

McCarthy is a former NYPD Deputy Commissioner who ran the department’s COMPSTAT program and more recently served as Chicago Police superintendent. Fanciful as it may sound to some in New York, his candidacy could be for real.

If so, he’d be running against the man who appointed, then fired him, the Democratic incumbent and chief of staff to former President Barack Obama, Rahm Emanuel.

An exploratory committee has been formed. “I’m considering it but I’m not driving off a cliff,” McCarthy said in a telephone interview.“There’s a witchhunt going on against the police. I feel I can make a difference.”

Appointed superintendent in 2011 by Emanuel, the mayor later scapegoated McCarthy to cover his own involvement in hiding a video of the 2014 fatal police shooting of a 20-year-old black man, Laquan McDonald, until Emanuel’s re-election the following February. He later fired McCarthy as political attacks escalated over the video.

Since then, crime in Chicago has exploded. In 2016, there were 762 murders, more than twice as many as in New York City, which has more than double Chicago’s population. Through July of this year, there were 402 murders, which puts Chicago on a pace that exceeds last year’s.

McCarthy blames the skyrocketing crime rate on what he described in an article for the conservative Heritage Foundation as “legal cynicism”— a climate in which cops and the law are defined as “illegitimate, unresponsive and ill-equipped to ensure public safety.”

He writes: “Police-related shootings in Chicago represent less than ½ per cent of all shootings in the city. Had there been no police-related shootings last year, 4,300 people would still have been shot.”

Yet, he adds, the political reaction to the McDonald shooting resulted in his firing; in minor disciplinary cases becoming termination cases; and a state law “requiring that any civilian contact means a four-page report and Department of Justice involvement.”

The result, he writes, has been a huge increase in the murder and crime rates in Chicago. “A movement founded with the goal of saving black lives is resulting in more black lives being lost. The police are not the violence problem in society.”

That sounds pretty harsh and goes against the grain of today’s narrative of police killing unarmed African-Americans. [When’s the last time you read that before the white cop shot Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, Brown had tried to take the cop’s gun?]

But when crime seems out of control and a city’s safety seems threatened, different priorities rule. Put another way, a society faced with anarchy or repression will choose repression.

That’s what occurred in New York circa 1993, when homicides topped 2,000 and a New York Post headline, referring to then-Mayor David Dinkins, read, “Dave. Do something.” The result was the election of Rudy Giuliani as a law-and-order mayor.

McCarthy is reprising that theme. He said, “In my presentations, I cite what we did in New York under Giuliani and Bratton,” a reference to Giuliani’s appointment of Bill Bratton as police commissioner. With their policy of zero tolerance, New York City’s murder rate dropped to under 1,000 in 1996, a decline that continues to this day. Last year, the number of homicides was near 300.

Yet in New York today, few speak of the Giuliani-Bratton crime turnabout. Rather, their successes are viewed through a different prism, which emphasizes the large number of young blacks sent to prison in those years.

We can only wait and watch how things play out in Chicago.

JOHN MCCAIN. Revenge, as the saying goes, is a dish best served cold. Or, as the Kennedys were known to say, “Don’t get angry, get even.”

Sen. John McCain didn’t get angry, at least publicly, when during the presidential campaign, Donald Trump said the Arizona Republican was “no war hero” after nearly six years of captivity in a North Vietnamese prison following the shooting down of his plane. “He’s no war hero,” Trump said. “He’s a war hero because he was captured. I like people who weren’t captured.”

Now, two years later, McCain is getting even with Trump. Last week, he took his revenge, announcing he would again vote against the Republican Party’s bill to repeal President Obama’s Affordable Care Act, putting the knife for the second time into the heart of one of Trump’s key campaign promises.

McCain made no mention of Trump’s denigration of his Vietnam military service. Instead, he said he could not vote for the bill “in good conscience.”

The national media made no mention of revenge or getting even. It took McCain’s explanation at face value, citing his current battle with brain cancer and pointing out he voted against his closest friend and Senate colleague, Lindsay Graham, one of the bill’s two sponsors.

The national media also made no mention that, coincidentally, a snippet of McCain’s capture appeared in Ken Burns’s documentary on Vietnam that aired on national television last week. The snippet shows McCain, as a young Navy pilot, lying flat on his back, his arms and a leg broken. Realizing he is the son and grandson of four-star Navy admirals, the North Vietnamese allowed a French television crew to interview him for propaganda purposes. McCain describes his capture and treatment, then, his voice breaking, says he wants to tell his wife he loves her.

The narrator in Burns’s documentary says, because McCain failed to credit his captors’ treatment of him, he was subsequently beaten. He was also tortured and endured two years in solitary confinement, leading to his attempted, and thwarted, suicide.

When his father was named commander of all U.S. forces in the Vietnam theater, the North Vietnamese, again for propaganda purposes, offered McCain’s early release. He refused, unless the other captured Americans imprisoned with him were also released.

Asked about McCain’s vote, Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, said: “My friendship with John McCain is not based on how he votes but respect for how he’s lived his life and the person he is.”


Copyright © 2017 Leonard Levitt