All it took was one TV ad by Republican Sen. John McCain daring to mention the Chicago Democratic Machine—the machine we’re told does not exist—to unleash Mayor Chucky.
“If people start throwing dirt and mud—remember it comes back and hits you right in the face,” said Mayor Richard Daley, snarling, pointing his finger on Tuesday, positively chuckified.
“I think, to put my brother Bill in there—they want to put me in there, fine, they put me in there all the time anyway,” he said.
The McCain ad did not put him in there. But it put brother Billy in there as a lobbyist, and the mayor kept repeating “He’s not a lobbyist! He’s not a lobbyist! He’s never been a lobbyist,” even though Bill Daley was no mere lobbyist.
Daley defends brother, blasts McCain ad Daley defends brother, blasts McCain ad
Billy was a lobbyist’s lobbyist. And when he became U.S. Secretary of Commerce under Bill Clinton, Bill Daley traveled to Prague to teach American companies there how not to get themselves shaken down by local political bosses. I’m not kidding. Now he wants to be the next governor.
Others mentioned in the ad were Obama’s real estate fairy, the convicted influence peddler Tony Rezko; outgoing state Senate President Emil Jones (D-ComEd); and Gov. Rod “The Unreformer” Blagojevich. Each was trotted out as a component of the Chicago Democratic Machine backing the machine’s own self-professed reformer, Sen. Barack Obama (D-Rezko/Daley).
Obama wasn’t born of the machine, as the McCain ad states. He didn’t sprout fully formed from the mayoral forehead. But the former independent wised up to the Chicago Way, endorsed machine stooges and was warmed by Daley’s embrace. Daley’s own brilliant spokesman, David Axelrod, the Karl Rove of the Left, began to shape Obama as a reformer.
Obama repaid them by keeping his mouth shut on corruption. His stupendous silence has allowed McCain to outflank him on the reform/”change” issue.
Despite the great umbrage taken by Daley and my own paper’s editorial board, which complained the McCain commercial engaged in “guilt by association,” the ad was supremely effective and spot-on.
Actually, it didn’t go far enough.
McCain should have also mentioned the Illinois Republican bosses who dealt with Rezko in the state pension fund investment scandal, the same GOP heavyweights accused by witnesses of trying to use their White House influence to remove U.S. Atty. Patrick Fitzgerald.
Yet now that Daley has invited McCain to make other ads featuring him, consider the possibilities:
How about Obama, standing silently as the mayor’s white friends with Outfit connections, the Duffs, reaped $100 million in city affirmative action contracts even though the mayor knew his drinking buddies weren’t black or female. Then Obama endorses Daley in the name of reform.
Or how about a little Daley and a little Obama, as happy kindergartners playing in a sandbox with trucks from the $40 million City Hall Hired Truck scandal? Or how about a President Obama dealing with a tricky foreign policy/Chicago corruption issue?
This one involves the fugitive drug dealer and self-confessed Daley administration briber Marco Morales, still fighting extradition to the U.S. from the comfy warden’s office in his Mexican prison. On the day he fled Chicago—avoiding testifying to a federal grand jury about the bribes he paid at City Hall for contracts—Marco’s son began mysteriously receiving $40 million in Daley administration business. Again, I’m not kidding.
“People love money,” Daley said Tuesday. “Some love sex. Some love drugs. Some love power. It’s human frailties. You don’t have to bring individuals down when you’re running for the highest office in the United States.”
Daley was so upset about Billy that he talked about McCain’s involvement with the Keating 5, the scandal in which McCain was reprimanded by the Senate for his ties to the sleazy savings and loan king Charles Keating, along with four Democratic senators.
The public dishonor changed something in McCain. He began railing against the corrupting influence of money in politics and began publicly embarrassing Democrats and his fellow Republicans, about their political pork-barrel deals like that bridge to nowhere.
Perhaps, he’ll accept Daley’s challenge, and the mayor will continue to publicly deny that there is a Chicago machine, deny, deny, deny, even though the Daley underlings who helped build his machine and those giant patronage armies languish in the federal pen.
“You want to get tough in politics, I can get tough in politics as anyone else,” Daley said. “When you start throwing mud, mud is going to be thrown at you and it’s going to be sticky.”
It’s frightening to think of an angry Daley, doing a full Mayor Chucky, lips curled in rage, scooping up some mud balls because he doesn’t like a campaign commercial. But just wait. If his guy becomes president, he’ll be throwing his influence around the White House.
And that might be even scarier.