The Chicago Way
Posted on October 13, 2008
I got an email from my cousin who lives in Chicago. He reminded me about the wonders of the Windy City. He pointed out that over the last six months, 292 Americans murdered in Chicago while 221 Americans were killed in Iraq and Afghanistan.
He reminded me that the political leadership in Illinois, which includes
Obama, Durbin, Jackson Jr., Gov. Rod Blogojevich, House Leader Mike Madigan, Senate Leader Emil Jones, Attorney General Lisa Madigan and Mayor Richard Daley are all Democrats. Not a Republican in the bunch.
He pointed out that the State Pension Fund is $44 billion in debt, worst in the nation. That the Cook County sales tax, at 10.25% is the highest in the nation. That the Chicago Public school system is ranked one of the worst in the nation.
He didn’t point out but should have that most Chicago politicians are under suspicion of corruption (for good reason). He didn’t point out that Governor Rod Blogojevich is expected to be indicted any day now. He didn’t point out that Tony Rezko’s conviction is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to official corruption in Chicago.
He didn’t point out that the biggest crime that Bill Ayers committed, outside of domestic terrorism, was subverting the ideals of education reform by taking money dedicated to real reform and diverting it to train the same kind of activists that are being charged with voter fraud today.
Chicago has long been called the City that Works. But that is in spite of the political system, not because of it. The people of Chicago are the greatest people on earth. They are polite, they are industrious, they are nice, they are smart, and they are passionate about their sports and their culture. They are also rightfully tired of the corruption that has dogged this city for decades.
Two reporters, John Kass of the Chicago Tribune and Lynn Sweet, have covered Chicago politics and its corrupt soul for years. They have asked very tough questions about the Obama campaign and its connection to the Chicago way of politics.
The McCain campaign has raised questions about Bill Ayers and his connection to Obama. They are legitimate questions. Ayers is an unrepentant radical and his relationship with the junior Senator from Illinois raises important questions about Obama’s true political philosophy. My only complaint about these lines of inquiry is that because they have come so late in the campaign, they look desperate.
But a bigger point, outside of Ayers, is Obama’s connection to the Windy City. There has never been a big Northern city liberal politician elected to the highest office in the land. Will Obama do to the country what the Daley machine has done to Chicago? Raise taxes to unsustainable levels? Fail to back up the cops in tough situations? Allow a resurgence in crime? Turn a blind eye to corruption?
That is the Chicago way. Is Washington really ready for the Chicago way?