Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Daley the Demagogue

From Merriam-Webster - Demagogue: a leader who makes use of popular prejudices and false claims and promises in order to gain power.
In his Tuesday rants against 42nd alderman Brendan Reilly's opposition to the Chicago Children's Museum building a 100,000-square-foot facility in Grant Park, Mayor Richard M. Daley raged at Reilly's characterization of Grant Park as "not a kid's park." It became almost a mantra, "Not a kid's park?, "Not a kid's park?!" he repeated, again and again, incredulous anger rising each time.

Except, as Greg Hinz reports in Crain's Chicago Business, "The mayor’s press secretary, Jacquelyn Heard, conceded afterward that the latter remark may have been based on bad information."

In other words, it's a lie. A lie that the mayor just goes on repeating, because he thinks it has legs. Just like the lie about all the opponents to the museum having racist motives. He knows it's a lie, but it doesn't matter. It's always worked in the past.

Stop hiding behind generalities, Mr. Mayor. Exactly who are you calling a racist? Name names. Do you think I'm a racist? Blair Kamin? The Chicago Tribune's editorial board? Is New Eastside Association of Neighbors' Richard F. Ward a racist, Mr. Mayor? Name names and let the public decide whether they agree with your characterizations.

And now, the Mayor calls on all the leaders of Chicago - businessmen, community leaders, the ministers - to rise up with him in revolt against Brendan Reilly's war against children and minorities. The unstated, underlying message in Daley's bullying is clear: get behind me on this, or suffer the consequences.

As quoted in the Sun-Times, the Mayor now talks about the battle over the museum as if were a civic Armageddon . . . "a fight for the future of this city . . . If you lose this one, you lose the strength of our city . . " How poor and weak a thing is this Chicago that Daley has given us, that a single mayoral defeat can send it collapsing into an impotent gelatinous goo.

FUD - Mayor Richard M. Daley is a master.

Let's be clear. This is not about "the children." It is not a fight for racial justice. It's about raw political power, and the Mayor's insatiable hunger to maintain a monopoly of it within the city he governs. To Greg Hinz, a sharp observer who knows city politics inside and out, the real issue behind Daley's blustering smokescreen is no mystery "At stake is Mr. Daley’s ability to steamroll any local opposition to venues for the proposed 2016 Olympics."

Postscript: The Sun-Time's Fran Spielman, with Greg Hinz among the city's most indispensable journalists, has a compelling story indicating that Mayor's plan to override Reilly's aldermanic prerogative in vetoing the museum could run into stiff resistance in the City Council. Aldermen as diverse as the 50th ward's Bernie Stone, the 2nd's newly elected Bob Fioretti, and even the 21'st Howard Brookins, who saw his own aldermanic prerogative overridden when he pushed for a Wal-Mart in his ward three ago, expressed grave reservations about upending a tradition that has been a major source of their effectiveness. Savvy politicians all, they realize it would set a precedent that would open the door to the Mayor usurping and eroding the powers aldermen depend on in running their wards.

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

Wonder if the person who advised the Mayor to call the opponents racists is the same person who told him to rip up Meigs at 2am. There is a person who was involved with both actions.

The racist accusation did cross a line he will have a hard time getting back over.

Robert Salm said...

When I read the transcription of his briefing, my heart sank. I've lived in the New East Side since 1994 and seen the tremendous growth in both residents and what is becoming a truly wonderful area near the lake.

In previous elections, our precinct has been one of Daley's biggest supporters; turning out one of his biggest percentage leads over opponents. To call residents who do not want the underground museum "racist" is one of the most self-implosive, bombastic things Daley did in a long time.

I imagine Daley wishes he could go back and use a different line of opinion, but as usual, he smeared his opponents with hyperbole and a feckless diatribe. I also imagine what Daley is really upset with is not New East Side residents so much as our new alderman, Reilly, who effectively canceled Northwestern's planned sale of the LSD building to a developer. Thus ending a long string of rubber stamping that our previous Daley-following alderman Natarus would have done.

Pete said...

Daley's claim that opposition to the museum move is partly driven by opponents wanting to exclude poor children is totally disingenuous, given that the museum charges $8 admission for all children over the age of one. How many poor kids can afford that? If Daley's really that interested in being inclusive, shouldn't the museum be free to everyone?

Gotta love Reilly's chutzpah (even if it means political suicide), along with this insight: "Over the past 150 years, dozens of exciting projects have been proposed for Grant Park. If exceptions had been allowed for those worthy projects, we would not be having this debate today because there would be no open space left."

Robert Salm said...

Most children's museums have similar pricing and few "free days", although the Children's Museum in Indianapolis--an incredibly larger and educational children's museum--charges a little less than Chicago's. Like I wrote before, the CCH is nothing more than a great indoor playground with a paltry group of half-assed educational exhibits.

MMH, AIA said...

I would like to add that Daley is not far off from what he is commenting about the E. Randolph residents... although I believe race is too strong of a word.

The attitudes and expressions I witnessed at the community meetings were far from peaceful. There were many signs displayed that commented that the residents didn't want "them" to come into their neighborhood. Their overheard comments are very similar as well. This isn't as racist as much as it is classist!

When I verbally disagreed with their NO to the CCM, I was immediately attacked and called and outsider, non-parent, and many other things. I am a resident of this neighborhood and I can't believe how my neighbors are acting about this issue?!?!

When discussions were arranged to solve the homeless issues underneath E. Randolph, most of the people that were yelling at me on Sep. 10th must have been out of town that day?

To paint a picture that the local residents (my neighbors) are innocant, kind and not conserned with only themselves is just as disappointing as calling them racists (which I believe they are not far from).

nickelwood said...

Anybody know what year(s) Hugh Duncan's Castle House/Bed & Breakfest was built?