Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Funniest Damn Thing


I have read in weeks:
Exclusive: Bill Daley drops bid for governor

By Rick Pearson
Tribune reporter
7:00 p.m. CDT, September 16, 2013

Bill Daley abruptly ended his bid for the Democratic nomination for governor today, telling the Tribune that a lifetime in politics had not prepared him for the “enormity” of his first run for office and the challenge of leading the state through difficult times.

Daley, a member of two White House administrations, a presidential campaign manager and the son and brother of two former Chicago mayors, dropped out of the race less than four months after declaring his political resume gave him the best credentials to replace Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn.

“One of the things I always thought in my career that I wanted to do, I thought I would be able to have that opportunity, I hoped, would be to run for office. And even though you’re around it for a long time, you really don’t get a sense of the enormity of it until you get into it,” Daley told the Tribune.

“But the last six weeks or so have been really tough on me, struggling with this. Is this really me? Is this really what I want to spend my next five to nine years doing? And is this the best thing for me to do at this stage of my life?” he said. “I’ve come to the conclusion that this isn’t the best thing for me.”

Daley’s stunning decision to drop out of the race could give Quinn a virtually free shot at winning nomination for re-election in March...
The notion that anyone who has carried the name "Daley" around for the last 65 years like God's own corporate/political JPMorgan Palladium card would bail on his home-state's race for governor because -- after a lifetime of running political campaigns, corporations and the White House -- he suddenly discovered politics is really, really hard is so absurd that it defeats all attempts to punditize it properly.

The only time a political brawler from Chicago's First Family of political brawlers beats cheeks out of a political race is when he determines it is in his long-term best interest to move quickly in the opposite direction.  As you may recall, having spent 22 years in the empire-building business, Da Mare Hizzself suddenly decided to give it all up and hang out his shingle at exactly the same time that city revenue projections and his own popularity both plummeted after the Great Crash.  The citizens of Chicago woke up to find that Hizzoner had built his empire by buying political peace with revenue and projects and city contracts he would no longer have.  

The money from the sale of the Skyway -- meant to last for decades -- was all gone.  The revenue and same-as-cash prestige the Olympics would have provided never materialized (and the story behind that was a whole other pot of chili.)  The money from pawning the city's parking meters (to a consortium which would soon hire from Hizzoner's family and political retinue -- a stash that was meant to last for decades -- was all smoked up in a summer's afternoon.

Shortly thereafter came the buyouts.  Then the first layoffs in living memory.  Then many, many more rounds of layoffs and furloughs and school closings and city administration re-re-re-re-organizations.   Whole city departments vanished, leaving only a few file cabinets full of long, cumbersome performance evaluations of staff who were now gone given by managers who were now also gone, some boxes of unread books on management, a few reams of obsolete letterhead and a few bales of team-spirit tee-shirts and key-chains moldering and forgotten in closets here and there.

And so, being a very wise political boss, having spent every nickle he could borrow to keep his empire propped up a few months longer, Hizzoner quit, leaving his legacy of profligacy and crushing debt for future generations to sort out.  

History shows us that the heirs of Richard J. Daley do not step aside until stepping aside becomes the only, viable political option remaining.  Did I mention that Illinois is broke?  As in for-real, may-soon-have-to-live-under-a-crumbling-bridge broke?  It's a funny story.  Turns out that all those years lawmakers were supposed to be paying into the state's pension fund, they were more-more-less not doing so, which made everybody very happy a things were going along because who wants to raise taxes to pay for some geezer's corn pads in the far-off, utpoian neverland of...

...The Twenty First Century!

Remember how it sounded all majestic and prosperous when you said it like that?

But -- and here's the funny bit -- it turned out the millennium came and went, and the jetpacks and space-station tourism and perpetual, exponential economic growth we were all promised never materialized, and the wonderboys of yesterday became the geezers of today, and their retirement shopping lists, while mostly very modest, included a lot more stuff than just corn pads.

And that's when -- in a situation that eerily parallels the dire straits the City of Chicago began facing shorty before Hizzoner Da Mare made for the exits -- the by-now gargantuan unfunded pension liability of the Great State of Illinois started being talked about by people other than actuaries and poopy-heads.

I have no idea what made Bill Daley -- who has been eyeing the Governor's mansion for years now and who made it clear that he only entered the race after very seriously weighing every factor -- suddenly decide to back out.  For Democrat's who are now spared a punishing primary, this is a very good thing, so maybe he was paying off an  IOU.  Or maybe collecting a new one.  Perhaps he has read the tea leaves and thinks no Democrat can win, so why risk his political neck in a foredoomed campaign? (Bill Daley was, after all, one of the first to quit the Gore 2000 Florida

when the going got messy.)

But I do know that fixing Illinois' massive budget and pension problems will require bending arms, breaking promises and deeply disappointing political friends and allies during some lean times to come.  And these days the Daley's political genius seems to only run hot when the cotton is high and the wind in at their backs.

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