Now that the real-life Rahm has been elected the Second City’s new mayor, the irreverent faker @MayorEmanuel’s work is done. But what made Dan Sinker’s political commentary so poignant and gripping during the election run-up?
Playing off the mayor-elect’s frequent rants – Former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said America could pay for the economic stimulus if we “put a quarter in a jar every time Rahm uses a swear word” – Dan Sinker’s now-legendary Twitter feed began as a sounding board to journalists and other politicos to hypothesize what the real Emanuel would say to them.
(More on TIME.com: See photos of Rahm Emanuel – the real one – running for mayor)
But no one could predict that it would turn into a veritable dramedy of the underbelly of Chicago politics, spinning a complex narrative of campaigning and politicking. Now Sinker is taking a much-needed break from the tireless portrayal of Emanuel, choosing to step out from behind the keyboard for an interview with The Atlantic.
By day, Sinker is a journalism professor at Columbia College in downtown Chicago. But his past is speckled with all the makings of an off-color political impersonator. He founded the edgy (and now defunct) Punk Planet magazine in 1994 and started a mobile-only storytelling site in 2009. And he’s a Chicagoan through and through. All the pieces add up to create one super fake Rahm. But here’s the clincher: “I was never really making fun of the guy,” he says outright. “I was making fun with the guy.”
(More on TIME.com See TIME’s interview with Rahm Emanuel, Chicago’s “Next F#@*ing Mayor”)
In the midst of campaign season, he heartily laughed in the face of journalists who begged him to reveal his identity – with the requisite profanity-laced tweets, of course. Rahm himself even famously pleaded with the parodist to show his face, offering a hefty charitable donation if the man behind the madness were to emerge. Needless to say, Sinker declined.
Though it is a surprise he managed to evade being outed for the duration of the campaign. The Atlantic reports his Twitter secret was known “only by his wife, a small circle of friends, and one Chicago Public Schools teacher” who managed to trace a posted link back to Sinker.
(More on TIME.com: See video of Chicagoans voting for their new boss.)
Sinker’s epic saga brought out recurring characters like political consulting guru David Axelrod and Carl the Intern, following the daily minutia with a touch of crass. In an era where Washington is seen as out-of-touch with average Americans, Sinker’s tales lent a dose of vulgarity to the idealistic political world – and who better to lampoon than the macho man with the loud mouth, referred to as “Rahmbo.”
This leaves NewsFeed wondering: now that Rahm is indeed “Mayor Emanuel,” perhaps he’ll take control of the eponymous Twitter feed? Though a word of caution: he has big shoes to fill.