First, take a minute to watch this video. I’ll wait.
Done? Ok., good.
Now please allow me to relay a story that immediately popped into my mind as I watched this.
I was volunteering for the Chicago Marathon back when Blago was serving his second term (and of course I use the term “serving” loosely). They needed interpreters to be on hand in case the foreign athletes wanted to talk to the media. I didn’t even realize my countrymen (and women) from Russia were such good runners, but I digress…
As it turned out, there was little for me to do and I spent my time chatting with the ABC7 cameraman who was filming the post-race press conference. As it often happens with me, the conversation turned to politics.
I was pleased to learn that Mr. Cameraman was NOT a fan of Todd Stroger. Good, I thought. Good. I then asked him what he thought of Governor Blagojevich and this is where the nightmare began.
“I think he’s ok,” he said.
“REALLY??!!” I responded.
He then proceeded to tell me that he thought the governor was a swell guy because he had done so much for breast cancer research.
It then came out that the guy’s wife had succumbed to breast cancer and they had set up some sort of a foundation in her honor and to make a long story short, the governor attended one of their fundraisers. In person. Himself. This was a big deal to this guy. Just like it was a big deal to the elderly man in the video that Rahm took an interest in him.
I didn’t say anything to Mr. Cameraman, but can you tell me who in this whole wide world is AGAINST breast cancer research? Raise your hand if you WANT more women and men to die from this disease. No?… No one? Shocker. So of course we should love a politician who supports research to deal with this disease. We should worship him in fact.
This kind of thinking had clearly not entered this guy’s mind though and it’s not because he’s stupid. It’s because he thinks politicians are Very Important People who are Very Busy and Important and if one of those people comes to his event or takes up his issue, well, he must be a great guy.
Think for a moment about what this means. Mr. Cameraman didn’t say anything about Blago’s policies, the budget, etc. The governor came to his dead wife’s fundraiser and that was enough to buy his allegiance. And “buy” isn’t even the right word. What would attending have cost Blago? Cab fare?
Our city and state of course has a long and (not quite) proud tradition of this sort of thing. Blagojevich was only the most recent large-scale example. Dan Rostenkowski anyone? Politics here is all about taking care of individual voters’ problems or at least pretending really well that you give a damn about them. And we’ve seen over and over that voters will reward corruption and incompetence with another term in office so long as they guy came to their event or fixed their sidewalk or got them a job.
It seems that Rahm has learned this lesson extremely well.