Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Lewis’ secrecy over hospitalization not a good character trait for public official

It’s always intriguing whenever a public official winds up becoming ill and needing the services of a hospital.

Not only does it show us how vulnerable they are, it also puts them into positions where they have to take orders – rather than bark them out to their minions.

SO WHAT SHOULD we think of the fact that Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis (also the hopeful mayoral candidate for many who despise the thought of “four more years” of Rahm Emanuel) is at an undisclosed hospital somewhere in Chicago.

Or, for all we know, it could be out in the suburbs somewhere. Maybe she thought she could do a hospital stay somewhere isolated and no one would ever know?

Now before anyone gets all worked up, I must disclose that I don’t know where she is, or what exactly she is being treated for. Which, if you’re relying on the various news media accounts that began popping up on the Internet Monday night and updated in the Tuesday newspapers, is the same level of knowledge you don’t have.

The teachers union initially tried saying nothing, even though the rumor mill out there was saying that Lewis, who is 61, suffered a stroke. That tidbit got reported in several places.

ALTHOUGH A STATEMENT by union officials that reads like it was coerced flatly denied that she suffered a stroke.

“Karen is being evaluated in a local hospital after experiencing discomfort Sunday evening,” the union said, while going on to cite her “privacy” as a reason for offering up so little detail.

The only problem with that line of logic is that one gives up a certain amount of privacy when they throw themselves into the public policy eye – or even contemplate doing so.

Perhaps this is a reason why those people who want to replace Rahm so badly (we hate Emanuel more than we despise Eisenhower Expressway morning rush hour traffic, according to a poll by yet another mayoral challenger, Robert Fioretti) that they’re practically begging Lewis to run for mayor ought to get a grip and focus their attention elsewhere.

BECAUSE IF SHE were mayor, there’d be no way she’d be able to get away with this kind of non-talk. We literally would have reporter-types staking out every single hospital in Chicago and nearby suburbs in hopes of trying to catch a glimpse of her (we literally didn’t know where she was, so we’d have to hit them all).

Watching this play out brings back memories from just over two decades ago when then-Gov. Jim Edgar wound up requiring quadruple bypass surgery to remove a blockage that was preventing sufficient blood from getting to his heart.

I remember the level of briefings being so detailed to the point where one of my editors commented that my stories were rather graphic about referring to the condition of the governor’s groin – something he claimed to have never read before.

While Lewis is giving us something we have all read way too often – absolutely nothing. Unless you want to read the platitudes about how Lewis is a “freedom fighter” who will be “back on her feet in no time.”

I’LL GIVE THE union the benefit of the doubt that the little bits of information they have provided about their boss is all truthful. For all I know, she may well be out of the hospital by the time you get about to reading this commentary.

There are those of us who will go on about concocting tacky jokes about how it probably was Rahm himself who plotted out a scheme to make Lewis ill so as to knock her out of the election cycle before she could get in.

But what I do know for sure is that Lewis is showing us she has at least one characteristic of a political person – a sense of secrecy. Unfortunately, that’s not one of the reasons some people are wishing, praying, hoping for a “Mayor Lewis” come next May.


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