Friday, March 2, 2007
Personal Asides: Daley is Big on Denying the Self-Evident The Intriguing Liberal Game of Political Correctness Sheila SimonYour 15 Minutes of Fame is at Hand!
Few people can deny the self-evident without embarrassmentespecially these days when prudence would dictate a sense of realism. For example, George W. Bush says he realizes there have been mistakes in Iraq, in fact may give his opponents too much credit, but emphasizes he will continue the struggle. Perhaps Al Gore would be constrained to say that his huge house emitting a blast of power is inconsistent with his energy conservation urgingsnow that he has been found out.
Not so in the old days. Then a public official would just hold firm to his position and bluster through with a litany of lies even if all the evidence proved to the contrary. Richard M. Nixon comes to mind. Few relics of the old days exist nowbut they do in Richard M. Daley. Organized labor which but for one union opposed Daley because of the Big Box ordinance veto didnt hold his vote down (given he ran against two under-funded challengers who could?) but it scored dramatic gains in the city council where there will be 12 runoffs and three veteran aldermen defeated. The total labor score for the council: five wins, two losses, seven aldermen forced into runoffs. Any realistic politician when confronted with this obvious fact would acknowledge that by defeating some of his aldermanic supporters, the unions won some. That they sent a message.
But the other day when he was thanking voters by going on a handshaking tour at the Wishbone restaurant, here he was taxing credulity again with bluster. Wheres the message? Hello? I meancome on. What message? Oh give us all a break, Richie: the aldermanic contests show it. But he plays all of us for suckers by begging the question and ranting platitudes: What message? Ive been more pro-labor than they have. Listen, Rich, a number of us supported your veto but why dont you level with the folks and admit that the unions zinged you?
Daleys unease with English doesnt cover up his arrogance. Were supposed to be so stupid, we dont understand the voting statistics. His stumblebum rhetoric differs from the fine and precise language employed by Cardinal Francis Georgebut its only style. George frequently makes the same effort to deny credulity when hes cornered. Take a few years ago at the City Club of Chicago when he made a big mistake by being candid, sayingbefore a huge group of Democratsthat the Democratic party has lost its soul because it abandoned pro-life. There was a huge intake of air. Then, to even it up, he said, well, it could also be argued that the Republican party never had a soul! which got him off the hook with the Democratsbut not me not that he cared a whit.
Yet the master Jesuitical parser was at work not long later after I teased him about it. Rather than confess he was just trying to even the score before a sensitive group as any politician would do, he labored mightily to say that while the Democrats displease many Catholics by their pro-abort stand, the Republicans have historically displeased Catholics because of their fondness for James G. Blaine. Huh? I said. James G. Blaine? Then he labored to refresh me as to who James G. Blaine was. Midway through the history lesson, I said: yes, I know who James G. Blaine wasformer Speaker of the House, former U. S. Senator from Maine who was the Republican presidential nominee against Grover Cleveland in 1884. Yes, I know that Blaine was an arch-enemy of Catholic educationbut are you telling me that generations of Catholics distrust the Republican party because of Blaines actions over a hundred years earlier? Can you go down the street and find three people who can identify James G. Blaine?
Well, the legacy of Blaines anti-Catholicism matches the Democrats pro-abort-ness. That was exactly what the Cardinal meant. I said to him over the phone what I would have said to Richie who was similarly laboring to deny the obviousoh, please.
Criticize some religions and its okay. The Catholic one for instance. The Jewish one, too, now. There was a play on Broadway some years back, Sister Mary Frances Xavier Explains it All to You. Uproariously funny wrote liberal critics who would not feel the same way if the barbs were directed tolet us say the most sacred of sacred cows, gays. Say something critical of gays and you have your work cut out for you to deny that you are homophobic. Strategically brilliant, gay rights people have now adopted the strategy that to aver that same-sex choice is abhorrentan expression of personal religious beliefis to be a hate-monger: ergo, the only way to be thought of as tolerant is to support gay-rights.
Anything you say about Barack Obama is filtered through the prism of race i.e. to ask questions about his education is to be perceived by some people as a racistas one journalist told another about me. It is quite possible Roeser could be perceived as a racist. Criticize two blacksObama and James Meeksand its a dead giveaway. It doesnt matter that I supported Rep. Jesse L. Jackson, Jr. for mayor until he determined not to run: you criticized Obama and Meeks so your sword is broken in two and tossed out into the field where you must roam in the netherworld until the end of time. What if you gave $1,000 to Alan Keyes as I did? Doesnt count; hes not ourmeaning white liberalkind of black guy. What if you are personally fond of Commissioner Bill Beavers? Doesnt matter, hes not ourmeaning white liberalkind of black guy. Im turning out to be a kind of slow-growing fan of Todd Stroger. No good: hes not our kind of black guy. Their kind is Forrest Claypool: not black but never mind.
What if you have been a personal friend of Andrew Young (as I am)? Doesnt matter because hes a black man of the past and not relevant here. What if Im a personal friend of Cliff Kelley (as I am)? Wellwe cant understand that but you still criticized Obama and Meeks.
All of this concerns the latest doctrine of political correctness. To criticize the Mormon religion is okay because a white Republican running for president is a Mormon. To criticize the Trinity United Church of Christ pastor is not okayeven though he has talked against the Jewsbecause Obama belongs to that church and the criticism of his church defines you as a racist. Besides, Jews arent that big a deal anymore in the political correct lexicon. They used to be. Not now. The super-sensitive holy of holies category is gay. You are a bigot if you criticize gays. Criticize Jewsaw, well, some of them have it coming.
Which brings us to the story from Santa Rosa, California where a few classmates razzed high school freshman Rebekah Rice about her Mormon faith by shouting at her, Do you have 10 moms? Rebekah answered with a retort that made no linear sense but which she said anyhow: Aw, thats so gay! Immediately she was sent to the principals office at Maria Carillo high school reprimanded Rice that she had descended to hate speech. Which triggered Rices parents to sue the high school charging it had violated their daughters First Amendment rights. Liberals are prone to dismiss the ruckus, saying that both sides were wrong. But thats too-too-too what shall I say?simplistic. The fact is that the incident proves there are some insults that are accepted as commonplacebecause Mormons are conservative in natureand some are highly insultingbecause gays are sacred cowser, bulls perhaps, or cows and bulls-- in todays hierarchy of affirmative action.
Any society that pretends all gays lives are at serious risk is as silly as the one which insists all Indians are offended because of Chief Illiniwek, a fictitious creation (when perhaps a handful of Indians objected) danced in regalia a U of I functions. In absence of such purists having genuine moral absolutes, one has to make do with the synthetic religion one must contrivethus use of Illiniwek is a mortal sin; mocking Mormons is very-very venial but mocking gays is a sacrilege.
Liberal faddists in academe and the media move quickly. Not long after Paul Simon died, there was a move to canonize him in liberal theology. Why Simon when there are other dead Democratic senators to deify? Well, he was the first to take off after Chief Illiniwek: that figures. But what about the Democratic predecessors? After all, Stephen A. Douglas was a great Illinois senator and a pro-choiceron slavery. Paul Douglas was a great Illinois senator, a wounded Marine in World War II when he was age 50, an economist, even a one-time socialist, an intellectual and early environmentalist. Scott Lucas was Senate majority leader who took on the Kelly-Nash machine in his early days and earned the enmity of Joe McCarthy and was a close friend of Harry Truman. Why not them? Well, Stephen A. Douglas who wanted states to decide through squatter sovereignty whether slavery was immoral or not is uncomfortably close to the current breed of liberal who is nonjudgmental on human lifeso it may be embarrassing.
Paul Douglas? A good choice but he was for winning the Vietnam War. A liberal no-no. Scott Lucas lost to Everett Dirksen, a conservative, who is too close to today so he might be resurrected inadvertently. No Paul Simon is a martyr. Why martyr? Liberals dont know but he sort of was. Unlike the two Douglas and Lucas, he did nothing in the Senate except tell Clarence Thomas in confirmation hearings that he would do well to visit an Indian reservation. Beyond that, he was a 16-carat phony. Exploring his inner thoughts wasand I tried to do so many timeswas like looking down the tube of a dark-field microscope. He was a trivialist; a short-term presidential candidate; the possessor of a rumbling baritone which was uttered through his nose like Thurston Howell, III of Gilligans Island. Among Illinois senators he probably ranks slightly ahead of C. Wayland (Curly) Brooks. Except Brooks, a one-time brilliant prosecutor, was much less complicated than was the fastidiously simple Simon.
Simon was a master at personal public relationsgesticulating how homely he was as a sign that he was honest. Homely he was and he added to it with horn-rimmed glasses. He starred in one role: plain, bare-bones Paul Simon. As a man he was curiously remoteand I would visit often with him when I got to Washington. The slogan among his staff which was unceremoniously let go when he decided not to run members of whom were not helped by him in getting other employment the slogan was Paul Simon loves humanity. Its people hes not fond of. The plain, bare-bones what-you-see-is-what-you-get wasnt Simon, preening before a mirror in his private thoughts but Al (the Pal) Dixon. There was a small town country lawyer who was fun, jovial, quick and far more able to get things through the Senate than Simon. If William Jennings Bryan (born in Illinois) was a populist, Paul Simon was the kind of liberal who could perform exercises in fundamentalism.
He was utterly fanatical about perfecting his image as a plain, simple, apple-cheeked southern Illinoisan with an out-of-date bow-tie, Wallace Wimple glasses and teeth that look like the joke ones that clatter and chatter when you take them out of the box. He so played the role of the small town newspaper editor that he had a battered old portable on his desk, purportedly to indicate that he wrote his own stuff on that thing though when you went over to it, you had to blow the dust off the keys: his stuff was ground out the way all other senators doby a staff producing a basic copy to which he added his own words. He was a good writer and wrote his own books but the industry he exerted to show his simplicity was contrived and Herculean. So he diedso what?
Well, he has a daughter, thats so-what. She looks like him which is rather a shame but she accentuates it. Doesnt care to overcome it. She has horn-rimmed glasses and the same huge teeth but there is so much that can be done with womens looksI remember how Eleanor Roosevelt charmed me--that I fully believe Sheila is doing her old man once again, cultivating the art of plainness. She is a law professor at Southern Illinois University. So heres the drill, liberal-watchers. The liberals are determined to have another go at plain, homely old Paul Simon through his daughter, dowdily dressing dully to show shes honest. So shes running as destinys tot for mayor of Carbondale and the liberal media hearts up here are going patty-pat, patty-pat.
So here and there you see a few references to her: the dull rumble before the heavy artillery begins to drum roll her. Of course no one knows what she believes because shes following the Barack Obama strategy but she has that faraway photographic look in her eye, her forefinger pressed to her cheek. Oh shes deep. Just watch her look deep.