Thursday, September 25, 2014

Would Harold still hold a grudge against the Mighty Quinn?

“I would never appoint Pat Quinn to do anything. Pat Quinn is a totally and completely undisciplined individual who thinks this government is nothing but a large easel on which to do his PR work.


“He was dismissed; he should’ve been dismissed. My only regret is that we hired him and kept him too long.”




Those were the words of then-Mayor Harold Washington back in 1987 to explain the dismissal of the city’s director of revenue following only an eight-month stint in the job.


That director, of course, was Pat Quinn – who by that time had already been involved in the “Cutback Amendment” that reduced the size of the Illinois House of Representatives by one-third. He had yet to be elected to the post of Illinois treasurer, lieutenant governor or governor, nor to run any of the unsuccessful campaigns he tried in the late 1990s for the U.S. Senate or Illinois secretary of state.


THOSE WORDS ALSO are being used these days in a campaign ad that uses video of Washington speaking, then tells the voters we should “fire” Pat Quinn come Nov. 4 (a.k.a., Election Day).


This particular advertising spot came a couple of days after Republican gubernatorial nominee Bruce Rauner touted his endorsement by a collection of African-American ministers – many of whom had previously offered their support to Rauner individually.


It is part of the continuing effort by the Rauner campaign to hurt Quinn’s standing amongst African-American votes (where theoretically he could get up to 90 percent support).


Create a sense of apathy amongst black voters, and perhaps Rauner’s coalition of rural residents and business-type executives can be large enough to win the election for Illinois governor.


THERE’S JUST ONE problem with this strategy; the tidbit being used this time to motivate this line of thought is so old and unimaginative.


For all Rauner’s campaign has done is recycled the theme of one of the campaign ads that Dan Hynes used in his 2010 Democratic primary campaign against Quinn for governor.


He also reminded us of what Washington once had to say about Quinn.


For that matter, I have heard many political people of both major party persuasions use the fact that “Washington fired Quinn” as one of their talking points about how Quinn is somehow less-than-legitimate.


ACTUALLY, IF YOU study what Washington actually said (particularly that line about the “large easel on which to do his PR work”), it is so in line with what so many political people said about Quinn – he puts the “causes” he touts front-and-center, and isn’t afraid to embarrass his alleged colleagues if it helps bolster himself.


A “phony reformer,” is a phrase I have heard used to describe Quinn by so many people I can’t even begin to recall them all.


This is an old attack. It is why Quinn had little to no trouble swatting it aside when he started to get questioned about it on Wednesday. Heck, Quinn should probably have put a response to this on tape years ago. Then, he could just play that segment in response to the Washington attack whenever anyone tries to resort to using it against him.


All of this is to say that my response to learning of the latest Rauner campaign rhetoric was to wonder why his people couldn’t come up with something original. Unless they want to believe that black voters will mindlessly follow their “leader” when they cast ballots on Election Day.


SOMEHOW, I JUST don’t see that happening.


And as for the debate some are taking now as to whether Washington would have ever forgiven Quinn (the mayor died shortly after this firing occurred), I can’t help but think that Washington would have been like many other people will be come this election cycle.


He’d hold his nose and vote for Quinn against the “rich guy” who seems to think all the money he can afford to put into his own campaign gives him a sense of intelligence and know-how.



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