Saturday, May 23, 2009

Tougher than a TV jungle, Chicago is

“Politics ain’t beanbag” – the mythical Mr. Dooley.

“Chicago ain’t ready for reform” – former Ald. Paddy Bauler.

“After being in, you know, Chicago and Illinois politics for this many years, the jungle doesn’t seem too scary” – former Illinois first lady Patti Blagojevich.

Could it be?

Has the former first lady of Illinois managed to come up with the 21st Century’s quote that summarizes how tough and feisty the Chicago political scene is?

IF SO, SHE may very well have made a more lasting contribution to Chicago political history than her husband. He may very well be the first Illinois governor to be impeached and removed from office, but eventually his name is just going to become yet another one on the list of would-be politicos who couldn’t keep themselves out of trouble.

But if the daughter of Ald. Dick Mell has managed to come up with a comment that sticks, she could be remembered for the ages. Chicago politics is tougher than a Costa Rican jungle.

What a concept!

For those who haven’t been paying attention to every word coming from the Blagojeviches these days, Patti made this comment earlier this week while appearing in an interview broadcast by WVON-AM.

FOR THOSE WONDERING why she’d willingly subject herself to media questioning, it was one of those softball-type interviews where the local radio guy was so thrilled to have her on the air that he wasn’t going to start pressing her on details of her husband’s criminal case – or those audio tapes the feds have that show our one-time first lady to be a potty mouth.

Broadcasters at the one-time Voice of Negroes (which is still a significant radio station focusing on community events in the African-American neighborhoods of the South Side) were willing to play along and let Patti talk about her upcoming appearance on a national television program – one that will pay her enough money so that she and husband Rod will be able to feed and clothe their two daughters for a few months while his criminal case is pending in the federal court system based in Chicago.

This, of course, is the same program that originally wanted Rod to appear as a pseudo-celebrity, eating bugs and struggling to survive in a jungle of Costa Rica.

That inspired Patti to say she thinks she can handle the heat of the jungle. After all, she’s coping with the “heat” of the Chicago political scene – which for the past few years badgered her and her husband with repeated questions about his alleged criminal behavior and now wants him to talk about his criminal trial.

ACTUALLY, WE DON’T want him to talk about his criminal trial, most of us want him to admit his guilt and beg for the maximum penalty possible, which won’t happen. But that is an issue for a future commentary.

So what should we think of Patti Blagojevich’s comment (which I think is more interesting than the Legislature considering a measure that would deprive Rod of any royalty payments he may ever receive from the book he allegedly is writing)?

It is a bit of an overstatement, but only because a real jungle setting is much more harsh than the environment at City Hall – even on those days when the air conditioning conks out in mid-August and the building gets incredibly stuffy.

Keep in mind that while the “reality” show that will include Patti Blagojevich is being set in Costa Rica, the “jungle” setting that will be used to shoot the program is going to be a controlled environment.

SHE MAY GET dirty, sweaty, and literally have to eat a bug or two.

But she’s not going to have her life put at risk, the way anyone who wandered into the real jungle would be. So yeah, the Chicago political scene probably is a more hazardous place for the Blagojeviches than the outdoor television set being used as a Costa Rica jungle.

But it has just enough of a sense of exaggeration to be catchy. It could be the kind of comment that sticks in peoples’ minds. If the officials at WVON have any sense, they ought to do everything they can to document the fact that this comment was made during one of their live broadcasts.

Maybe even make the audio available somehow (put it on their website, so that people could make a click and hear Patti herself compare “da Hall” to “da jungle.”

IN FACT, A part of me is inclined to think that Patti has topped both Bauler and the Bridgeport bartender character created by Finley Peter Dunne in coming up with a line that tries to summarize the Chicago political scene for the ages.

Then again, Bauler set the gold standard for corruption quotable quips. What other city has a line that summarizes their character so succinctly?

Of course, the ultimate quotable line in Chicago doesn’t relate to City Hall or politics. It refers to our police.

As put by the long-time Mayor Richard J. Daley – “The policeman isn’t there to create disorder. The policeman is there to preserve disorder.”


1 comment:

Krista Grimm said...

Bleeping golden post on a very telling quote. But so far, too obscure to be legendary. An audio clip would help raise visibility.