Thursday, January 12, 2012

Is it really new that same ‘white Irish Catholic’ family types dominate politics

I must admit to amusement at the fact that many people are getting offended at first lady Michelle Obama these days because of a new book about the first couple that tells us, among its tidbits, that she was offended at the fact that so much of our political power is tied up in generation after generation of the same few families.

As written by New York Times reporter-type Jodi Kantor in her new book, “The Obamas,” former mayoral staffer Michelle Obama, “particularly resented the way power in Illinois was locked up generation after generation by a small group of families, all white, Irish Catholic…”

WHICH JUST DOESN’T strike me as much of a revelation about the nature of politics in our fair city.

The now deceased newspaper columnist Mike Royko mocked this very trait some four decades ago in his book “Boss” about the head of the ultimate political family (Richard J. Daley). Or have we forgotten all those “begats” by now?

But I’m not about to defend this trait – which continues to this day and likely will go on for many more generations (let’s not forget the Daley relation who’s running for a seat on the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District board of commissioners).

What amuses me is the fact that some people out there are trying to lambast Obama the first lady for thinking such a thought.

BECAUSE I HAVE heard many a Chicagoan get into a drunken political quarrel that centered around the fact that the same damned families kept getting elected over and over and over.

Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan being nothing more than the daughter of Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan, D-Chicago? The bigger outrage might well be that she’s the adopted granddaughter of one-time 13th Ward Committeeman (and Richard J. Daley personal friend) Michael Madigan, Sr.

Because that places this particular train back yet another generation, and straight to the ultimate Hizzoner himself!

At one point or another, we all have expressed the exact same frustration that Kantor says Michelle Obama expressed on occasion during the two years that she worked for city government (in the early days of the Richard M. Daley mayoral administration).

WHICH MAY WELL mean that Michelle Obama is the REAL Chicagoan in that family – unlike hubby Barack who grew up in Honolulu and adopted our city for his adult life.

So those people who are claiming that Michelle is saying, or doing, something wrong, or showing us how out-of-touch she is with the common folk? I’d say they’re the ones who don’t have a clue.

Particularly someone like Matt Drudge, the guy who used his overblown website recently to trash her for this remark because he took offense to the characterization of the political establishment as “white.”

As though the South Shore girl who went on to Princeton University before returning to Chicago to work at a high-powered law firm before going to work for the city for a couple of years were really nothing more than some radical.

PERHAPS HE THINKS she’s some sort of spawn of Bill Ayers (the one-time Weathermen activist from the late 1960s). The reality is that she’s really just one of us.

It is her critics who need to get a clue about reality. Particularly someone who would want to view this as a racial issue against her. That’s just too stupid a concept to take seriously.

And yet these are the people that the bulk of the Republican presidential hopefuls are turning to for support in trying to get elected. It’s going to be no wonder if Michelle Obama gets four more years in the White House (which after reading a few chapters of “The Obamas” I couldn’t help but wonder if she deep-down would prefer to come home to Chicago after this year).

Of course, then again she’d be returning to the place where the same ol’ families wind up running things, generation after generation. Although the reality is that some new families do wind up working their way into the works.

SUCH S THE Jacksons or the Strogers, although I noticed one political pundit (Rich Miller of the Capitol Fax newsletter) also managed to include the Berrios family (Cook County Assessor Joe and state Rep. Toni, D-Chicago) in the political family mix.

Because that would stretch it beyond just a “white” thing. But would certainly fall in line with the concept of the same old families passing down political power.

But just as new families occasionally work their way into the mix, I can’t help but wonder what will become of family Obama on our political scene? How about Sasha or Malia running for office someday?

That might actually unite the forces. Michelle theoretically would be “upset’ over a political person’s kid running for office, while the ideologues who are bashing Michelle these days can rant about the return of the name “Obama” to the political scene!


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