Tuesday, September 11, 2007
Personal Aside: The Reader Thinks John Kass is Too Much a Hedgehog i.e. Narrowly Focused on Ryans Corruption, Ignoring his Good Points.
For years, Michael Miner has been writing a column in The Reader called Hot Type. This week it is about John Kass, the Tribunes page 3 columnistthe most philosophically balanced and consistent writer in the major press today in my estimation. There are some who say Kass is another Royko. I dont think so. I could take Royko or leave him; when he was funny he was very, very funnybut it was entertainment. Good entertainment but as enduring as a snow-cone in July.
With Kass you get a columnist who is tough, Chicago-tough, a former butcher, a former merchant marine sailor who writes like an angel. Show me any other columnist, a chronicler of the city, who gives you tips on what books to have your kids read for their character improvement who can write funny, write touchingly, write with literary flair, write simply, write with a kind of spirituality that is not corn-ball or emotional-filled.
Michael Miner goes after Kass by saying that Royko was a fox and Kass is a hedgehog. By which he means Royko took in a wide vista as a Foxbut a hedgehog has narrow visualization. By which Miner, probably the most consummate liberal writing today in Chicago, seemed to imply that if Royko were around he would look at George Ryan and see beyond Ryan to the good he did whereas Kass is rooted only one a narrow vista.
To Miner, Ryans good points come not from his extensive past but from after he changed. He blasted capital punishment; he became a pro-choicer and vetoed a key piece of pro-life legislation which he had pledged to sign; he went to Cuba and urged recognition of the Castro government; he changed his mind on OHare expansion. These are the good things, to Miner. Does Miner imagine that one night Ryan just sat bolt upright in bed and said: all these things I was wrong about so Im going to change!
Miner knows but does not acknowledge sufficiently that Ryan changed in order to get off the prosecutorial hot-plate, to influence a future jury panel. Why else did he get himself nominated for the Nobel Prize? You have to give Ryan and his advisers credit for using every ounce of initiative to save his skin, but Miner should be less gullible and come to understand the reason why Ryan did it. But to a liberal, if you do liberal things no matter what the motivation, thats all that matters.
The paramount issue that will convict Ryan in the minds of his fellow Illinoisans is something that all the sweet perfumes of Arabia cannot expunge, or the mellow let-be-statesmen-about-it stuff that Miner writes to obfuscate his ideology. It is this: Ryans corruption put people who worked for him in a vise; they had to sell tickets. Every secretary of state has encouraged workers to sell tickets but in the past when youd go out for coffee and return youd find probably a ticket or so on your deskworth $100. You either ponied up yourself or got somebody to buy it. With
Ryan, when you went out for a coffee break or to the toilet, you found a hefty stack of ticketsand that stack would have to be satisfied.
In order to pay for that stack often an inch or so thick of $100 tickets and satisfy your patronage obligation, a Ryan worker would have to be as venal as possible about it. Which is the reason why under Ryan, drivers examiners were taking more chances than they ever had beforebecause the tariff was ungodly high to pay the piper. Thats why so many Ryan examiners turned crooked many more than under other secretaries of state and thats why an illegal alien trucker got on the highway, failed to understand English when someone was trying to warn him about debris tumbling off his truck and thats how the six kids were incinerated.
Yeah, Michael, John Kass is a hedgehogfocused on one thing. Not a fox like Royko. Well read Dick Ciccones book on the tortured soul that was Royko and think again about your fox and hedgehog analogy. Its pretty tough to take your eyes off the spectacle of six kids roasted alive which can be directly laid to corruption, Michael. Maybe you can but then youre the broadminded kind of guy that I am sure Mike Royko would agree with on this issue.