WASHINGTON--Jonathan Alter has been covering Rahm Emanuel since 1992, through two White Houses, Congress and back to Chicago's City Hall. Alter, in "Meet the New Boss" in The Atlantic, brings a unique perspective of a national writer who grew up on Chicago's North Side; his mother, the late Joanne Alter, was a crusading commissioner at what was then called the Metropolitan Sanitary District.
Excerpt: "My parents met Rahm before I did, and disagreed with each other about him. My mother, the late Joanne Alter, was a feminist reformer who went to the first Mayor Daley in 1972 and told him that it was the 20th century and he must let women into the Democratic Party. Daley, clever about neutralizing opposition, slated her for a position near the bottom of the ticket, commissioner of the Water Reclamation District, and she became the first woman elected to public office in Cook County. Later, she turned down a young Rahm Emanuel for a job on one of her campaigns because she thought he was arrogant and obnoxious, the kind of guy, she said, who was always looking over your shoulder to see if someone more important was in the room (although she would have loved his present-day focus on cleaning up the riverbanks of the Chicago River, one of her pet causes).
"My father, Jim Alter, a retired Chicago businessman, has long admired Rahm's political skills. He was impressed that his congressman managed to both offer outstanding constituent services and rise in just four years to the House leadership. It didn't hurt when Rahm arranged for a local documentary to be made about World War II veterans in his district that featured my father's exploits as a combat aviator."