Thursday, March 8, 2012

How different are we, really?

I couldn’t help but remember a moment from some two decades ago – I was at the Statehouse in Springfield sitting in the sorry excuse of a cafeteria that existed then in the Capitol’s basement and having a conversation with a Republican legislative aide.
OBAMA: Snatched away our G-8

This particular aide was a Springfield native and was among those whose vision of Illinois included very little of Chicago, when our conversation shifted to the ongoing (even back then) debate over building a new airport for the Chicago area.

AS HE PUT it, Chicago and Illinois really were two differing states because the scale upon which many Chicago political people thought was just so much bigger than what many natives of the rural parts of the state would come up with.

“It would never occur to many of us to want to build a new airport,” that aide told me. “We’d just make do with what we had, and accept its limits.” Even if it meant that the number of flights would be negatively impacted – resulting in economic losses caused by less traffic passing through O’Hare International.

Only Chicago-oriented political people, he said, would be so eager to dream big thoughts that they’d want to make them reality – no matter how impractical they might well be. Even though the impracticality, when achieved, is what makes for greatness.

What brought this conversation to mind was the moment on Monday when we all were shocked – the G-8 that had so many people wetting their panties at the very thought of all the activists who would come to Chicago to play “60s protester” was no more.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA has decided to have those world leaders gather at the official presidential retreat out in the country – which has so many security measures in place and restrictions that there’s no way political protest will be a much of a factor.

We in Chicago will still get to host the NATO conference scheduled for May 20-21. But the perception is that Chicago’s reputation has taken a blow. We have shown we’re not really capable of handling the kind of events and happenings that occur in “world-class” cities.
CAPONE; His name lives on, in lame gags

Which means the kind of people who are happy these days are the ones who “think” like the rural pols – who never would have had it cross their minds to have such an event take place in their home communities.

That is how I think of many of those activists who a couple of years ago were all worked up over the thought of squashing the efforts to bring the 2016 Summer Olympic Games to Chicago.

ALTHOUGH I DON’T get as worked up as those people who complain that the Super Bowl can never be held at Soldier Field – since I’m skeptical that Chicagoans would care to see any football game that didn’t directly involve the Chicago Bears.

Which is to say that I think the loss of the G-8 summit is something that reflects negatively upon us. I think it is a loss. It would have been a chance to show off our city to the world.

It makes me wonder if the kind of people who don’t want such events in their communities are really just ashamed of where they come from?

Which is why it may well be fitting that the activists/rabble-rousers who were planning on making a scene in May during the G-8 say they’re still coming to Chicago.

THEY WON’T BE able to get anywhere near Camp David without risking arrest and a criminal conviction that would result in serious prison time. So they’re going to do their thing here.

Which means our police are still going to have to cope with the issue – only we don’t get the benefits that would have been derived from having the world leaders themselves in our community.

We won’t have the dateline “CHICAGO” being transmitted all about the globe on stories about the efforts being made to try to make our world a better place (even though, to be honest, the actual accomplishments likely would have been far less significant).

We even have Russia Premier Vladimir Putin taking pot shots (although his gags are so dated – Al Capone, really?!? – as to be ever-so-lame) at Chicago’s image.

THERE WON’T BE much of anything taking place in May to distract us from the mediocrity that will be taking place in the professional baseball ballparks on both the South and North sides.
EMANUEL: One Illinois? Really?

So what should we think?

I couldn’t help but notice how Mayor Rahm Emanuel was in Peoria on Wednesday, where he talked down the significance of the loss (which sounded like such political spin that I doubt it “played” in that central Illinois city) and emphasized the need for Chicago and rural areas within Illinois to think of ourselves as being united.

A nice, noble goal, I suppose. But if it means we’re going to start paring down our urban aspirations, then perhaps it is a step in the wrong direction.


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