Donald Lambro

WASHINGTON -- When President Obama tries to make the case that his policies have improved life in America, he isn't talking about his hometown of Chicago.

The third-largest city in the U.S., where Barack Obama's political career began, is the murder capital of the country, with one of the nation's highest unemployment rates.

It is now governed -- if one can say that with a straight face -- by the president's former chief of staff and top adviser, Rahm Emanuel, and a gang of incompetent Democrats who've taken a troubled city and made things a great deal worse.

It's a city where jobs are scarce, unemployment has soared, the labor force is shrinking, businesses have fled, gun-wielding drug gangs are murdering innocent people with near-impunity, schools are dysfunctional, and City Hall seems incapable of taking control of its streets and making the city safe again.

Five hundred and six Chicago residents were gunned down last year, up from 433 in 2011, and it's headed for another record number this year. Forty-three people were shot to death just in the month of January.

Mayor Emanuel, who's been in office for nearly a year, watched the murder rate climb through most of last year, without taking any effective actions to halt the killing spree.

Earlier this year, as the crime epidemic worsened, law enforcement authorities beefed up their police presence in some of the worst neighborhoods. But it's unclear whether that is having any long-term impact.

For many discouraged, frustrated Chicagoans, the latest law enforcement initiative was 506 lives too late.

Rahm Emanuel's police action certainly came too late to prevent the shooting death of 15-year-old Porshe Foster last November. The sophomore honor student had just completed basketball practice and was talking with friends in her South Side neighborhood when a hail of bullets was fired into her group, one of them hitting Foster in her back.

The city's disastrous economy undoubtedly is a factor in its soaring crime rate. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 473,731 people in the 14-county Chicago metropolitan statistical area (MSA) were unemployed in March -- pushing the jobless rate up to nearly 10 percent.

"In addition to the higher rate, the Chicago MSA lost an estimated 12,303 employed residents between February and March 2013, dropping total regional employment to approximately 4.4 million," according to the World Business Chicago website.

Chicagoans seeking answers to the senseless killings that have engulfed their city blame the high level of youth unemployment and their all-too-often dysfunctional school system.

Donald Lambro

Donald Lambro is chief political correspondent for The Washington Times.