Wednesday, June 7, 2006

Personal Asides: The Difference Between the Sun-Times and the Tribune…The Hideous Truth—the Obama Phenomenon is All About Good Caucasian-Like Looks

The Difference.

Yesterday morning the under-staffed, miserably under-paid and job-insecure Sun-Times staff trounced that over-staffed, over-paid and corporate-sized Tribune on the major political story of the day…not withstanding that the Trib should, by virtue of its size, control the city’s political coverage hands-down. The Sun-Times broke the story that the Cook county board will shortly move to install Bobbie Steele as interim president. The sleepy Trib was AWOL on the story. This hasn’t happened just once, it’s a regular phenomenon. What’s the reason? One of the reasons is the Trib’s screwy relativistic view of itself. A good long time ago, Jim-Bob aka Jim Squires the Tennessee liberal who served as editor, sought to give the then (as now) slumbering giant a fresh direction. He foresaw the paper giving national news total prominence in its first section, rivaling the New York Times playing a distant second or third, contained in a Metro section.

The result: what the Trib had been really good at—the local news—was downgraded which gave a real boost to the starving Sun-Times. Today while Squires is long gone, having become Ross Perot’s press guru and other things, but the dream of the Trib as the rival to the Times lives on. Of course, Squires had no interest in conservatism which the Trib had gained its reputation on. Basically, it was the case of replacing the old absolutism with a kind of wishy-washy relativism in which the paper floundered trying to figure out where it stood. The Trib’s supposed rivalry of the New York Times never took. Say what you want about the ultra-liberal Times, it knows what it believes, in the same way the old Trib used to. Its editorials are crisp and well-written, not meandering and come to blunt conclusions. Its Washington writers are, as a conservative I hate to say it, superbly gifted in writing liberal nuance and as liberals fit with editorials perfectly.

In contrast, the Trib has editorials that never concluded anything but the obvious; the news-writers out of Washington are liberal re-treads; the regular journalists here in Chicago are out-pointed and like the rest of the paper blowsy. Columnist John Kass is the only writer worth reading in it and that’s because he hearkens back to the old newspaper’s damn-the-political-correctness integrity.

The entire paper seems to be padded with “fill”—stories and features that after you read them you tend to say, “so what?” With no definable ideology except what passes for conventional wisdom, the Trib, once a major paper in the country is just another well-padded bore. In contrast, the Sun-Times which has truly become the Democratic paper of record here, is the first one you pick up even though some of its columnists who try to be hip aren’t worth the bother: Debra Pickett the so-called “smart girl” who deals in clichés, Mary Mitchell who seems exhausted when the topic switches from race relations to issues of general concern, the prematurely orange Carol Marin who never fails to restate the left in unappetizing terms that even the left must resent. But the news staff is extraordinary: Fran Spielman who writes a third of the paper from City Hall, Abdon Pallasch the legal reporter already an expert in the field; columnist Mark Brown the punchy liberal who, unlike Marin, has something to say.

One indication of the many that tell you about the Trib’s horrible inner-insecurity is its inability to find an editorial cartoonist which has taken it some seven or so years to search for. The Sun-Times has an excellent one, Jack Higgins, who disagrees with the paper’s editorial thrust often (violating this Blog’s credo that a newspaper should be uniform ideologically) but who is a stunningly effective artist and political thinker—but the Tribune can’t find one for this simple reason: unlike its wavering, uncertain editorial writers who usually end their articles with “time will tell,” a cartoonist is by nature polemical.

Ergo: No cartoonist can draw a commentary by leaving a conclusion undrawn. You can’t draw a cartoon that says “time will tell” as the vapid paper’s editorials continually say. Since the entire paper is a psychological screw-up with most liberals trying to write pap that will appeal to Hinsdale and Oak Brook…and conservatives all but non-existant…with the business side unaware of what a paper should really be…and with the entire institutional side ashamed of the paper’s legendary history under McCormick…no cartoonist can be found because cartoonists are, by their very nature, polemical. That same vapidity has failed to give regular reporters in the paper the incentive to beat the Sun-Times because of the intellectual nirvana that besets the paper: similar to Pontius Pilate’s question to Christ that betrayed the true relativist: What is truth? When you have to ask it…when you see the torrential intellectual self-doubts of Zorn and…what’s her name, Schmich? (who is a kind of nihilistic intellectual soul-mate) know what’s happened to the Tribune.

The Hideous Truth.

What in the world is the reason why sensible journalists of both papers are talking up a junior United States Senator…who has accomplished nothing thus far in the Senate (and is not expected to until he gets his moorings) for President of the United States? That is what’s happening to Barack Obama, which is good news for him but bad news for people who would like to take public policy seriously. The only thing Obama has done is to accept the role Harry Reid has given him which is to be the ethics lodestar. Unfortunately back home in Illinois, Obama single-handedly caused the nomination of the one Democrat on the state ticket who is foreordained to lose because of serious misapplication of duty as a private banker. Still the mindless drum-beat goes on, most notably on the front-page of last week’s Sunday Tribune, the paper that doesn’t know what it stands for. At the same time, Carol Moseley Braun even before she put her foot into the Senate, was never reckoned as a presidential contender, even potentially. Why not?

The answer is Obama’s near Caucasian good looks which makes racists out of the fawning white-dominated major press. Were he to be an African American with looks like a younger John Stroger: a paunch, much darker skin and a less aquiline nose, would he be in the running? Of course not. Were he to look like Stroger, he could still pose with a forefinger to his cheek in deep thought as he does now, and not be in the running for president. Even before her mishaps in the Senate, Moseley Braun couldn’t either: she is a representative black woman with an eye-catching smile albeit but not presidential.

A younger Stroger look-alike could pontificate with vague clichés, as Obama did at the Democratic convention, telling us that Americans should be regarded as Americans and not by hyphenates but would not register. Obama, a mulatto, has a white mother and black father: thus he looks vaguely more representatively white than black and as such is white liberal America’s idea as the first black president. He could play one on “West Wing.” Edward Brooke, the liberal Republican Senator from Massachusetts, who had far more experience than Obama (having been state attorney general and a two-term Senator) was never regarded as a presidential contender: reason, he could not be mistaken for a white man. He was also Republican but that was of less importance than his looks. This article will be cited as horrendous by the political correctionists—but the writer is too old to be dismayed by the cosmetician obfuscators. You read it here first: The reason Obama is mentioned so often by the media for president is that he is half white and visibly so-- and liberals who are nothing if not hypocritical, deem him easier to accept and elect than were he fulsomely black.


  1. Intentionally or not, those who either question, resent, or are overly enthused about Obama's popularity can't resist casting for him to "flip-flop" on his oft-stated denial of 2008 presidential or vice-presidential ambitions. The appeal of reigning in Obama's rise with a lure to flip-flop on the 2008 presidential race can't be resisted.

    I'd rather watch those fishing for an Obama flip talk and write about the differences in his criticism of the Bush's Iraq mess before and after becoming Senator. I'm convinced a cast in that direction would encourage Senator Obama flip back to the stronger crticisms he made prior to his 3/04 democratic primary victory.

  2. Greg BlankenshipJune 7, 2006 at 6:08 AM

    The jr. Senator from Chicago, IL did have the gaul to state on the Senate Floor, in a debate over requiring voters to show an ID before voting, that the reason such measures were unecessary was because there is no vote fraud in the US.

    If those kinds of statements don't have the makings of Presdential timber in the salons of the left, I don't know what does.

  3. Did you read Schmich's series of Cabrini Green and its residents? Zorn may not be your cup of tea either, but he's no dummy either. Why so free with the slams? And, Tom, you are selling Obama way too short. I guarantee that I look far more like a White Guy than he does (which isn't surprising since I'm white) and no one is going to take me seriously as a candidate for anything. In a lot of ways, Obama is a breath of fresh air in politics. I'd like to think that Reagan and him could've been good friends if never ideological soulmates. Could you say the same of Reagan and other Dems like Pelosi?

  4. I've heard so much about Barak being a leading African American figure. But he's half black, and as far as I know, raised by his white mother in white culture. If feels racist only to reflect on his black heritage. Doesn't his white heritage also make him great?

  5. The idea that Barack Obama is popular because he is "a mulatto" is one of the craziest things I've ever heard. I sincerely hope the statement is some sort of political satire that has gone over my head. Otherwise, I have to conclude it's racist tripe.

    First, it's flatly wrong. Obama doesn't look white. There's no way he could be mistaken for a white man.

    Second, of all the factors involved in political popularity, why on earth would you focus on race? How about the fact that he's handsome -- maybe that has a little something to do with it? Or the fact that he's an excellent speaker? Or the fact that he has no real record, so voters can largely project their own views onto this blank slate?

  6. Patrick McDonoughJune 9, 2006 at 1:34 PM

    Dear Tom, I really enjoyed this article. While I agree with much of what you wrote, I think Newspaper Editorial Staff tones down some of the staff writers at the Chicago Tribune. While I have no idea how it works behind the walls, Tribune Staff Writers such as Gary Washburne, Laurie Cohen, Todd Lighty, and Dan Mihalopoulos have a powerful knowledge of the events, but might not be allowed to write without limits. (Tribune scared about lawsuits?) Fran Spielman has excellent sources that she seems to trust and is allowed to write as she wants, I do not think the Sun-Times interfers with her. I also think the Chicago newspapers have come a long way in not blindly accepting the Daley Administration Spin. Also go to my web site as we honor you, Thanks Pat.

  7. Roeser, you're much fatter than I could have imagined. Very selfish.

  8. Kudos to you Mr.Roser! Everyone is so busy fawning over Obama and they dont even know why. The next time you meet an Obama cheerleader, ask them why. Exactly what accomplishments has he made? The whole fan club is built on his looks.

  9. I agree with your comments regarding Obama, he is very "white friendly". Butt Sen. Edward Brooks complexion is much fairer than Obama's and his features aren't as full as Obama's. Have you taken a look at Obama's lips? There's no way Obama could pass for white? If Obama didn't tell he America he was bi racial I would have never known. Vanessa Williams and Beyonce have the same complexion as Mr. Obama's and htey have two black parents.