Thursday, March 20, 2008

Personal Aside: In the Age of Obama the Chicago Media Follies.

As he sat down to write the lead “Tribune” editorial on Obama’s Philadelphia speech, Cringeley…who is there because he is not too liberal, not too conservative, not too moderate, not too pro-business, not too anti-free market…looked at the clock on the wall for some long seconds, calculated his deadline and started to ruminate.

He thought:

Let’s see. God the biggest thing I have to watch out for is that this paper not be considered racist. That’s first and foremost. So suppose I start out with the thought that Obama is undeniably the most talented man of his generation. No, can’t say that. Can’t use “man.” The most talented black man. No, AWFUL! That would make people think that there are separate classifications for talented blacks and others. No, let’s say “the most talented public official of his generation.” Is that right? No, that’s larding it on a bit too much and putting him over Reagan who is still beloved by some of the old-time readers. Marketing says no can do. I know: I’ll do what I do best, balancing ideas so that there’s something for everybody. On one hand Obama’s brilliant. On the other hand—here I go!

As Cringeley started to type the on-one-hand-then-the-other-hand “Tribune” editorial on Obama’s speech that would trail off into indefiniteness, sitting before her “Sun-Times” computer, political columnist Carol Marin was pondering, dilly-dallying, her fingers wriggling in anticipation but not knowing exactly who to praise first—a liberal black man or a liberal white woman.

She thought:

I do so want to believe! I DO SO WANT TO BELIEVE! Let me begin something like this: “The address in Philadelphia by Barack Obama was courageous. Brave. He praised his e grandmother.” GOD, DOES THAT APPEAL TO ME AS A FEMINIST! Especially from a black man who haven’t been noted for sensitivity to women—but then, what man has? Men have far too much power. I know, I will use the column to give him some glancing praise…say he was courageous to talk about race…but then I’ll concentrate on…OF COURSE! Geraldine Ferraro! The first woman on a national ticket! He is interesting but SHE HAS WON MY HEART! Let me call my secretary: BRUCE! BRUCE! Get in here! Where the hell have you been? This coffee is lukewarm. What! Dear God, you doing your nails again?

Down the corridor columnist Mark Brown was fiddling with the paperback “30 Days to a More Powerful Vocabulary.”

He thought:

Me write simple with crayon. Obama is great. Obama is what’s another word for “great” lemme look it up.

In the sports department, Rick Telander sat reflectively, chin in palm. He thought:

I am so tired of writing about guys chasing a pellet. Chase-the-pellet, chase-the-pellet. Maybe I can do something about Obama playing a pickup game of basketball with some kids. Ghetto kids. Of course it has to be on the level, not arranged. How can ghetto kids get in the East Bank Club where he hangs out? Not very easy. That’s the trouble with this job. Too few opportunities to link it to meaningful social change. How can I turn a prosaic column on sports to something that really matters—states in the south where blacks are still in some cases prevented from getting loans to start their own businesses…where the systemic pattern of discrimination years after the dawn of the civil rights movement still serves as a kind of blockade, an economic blockade, preventing black families from amassing any meaningful wealth to bequeath to future generations.

Across town in his luxurious condominium occupying a full floor in the John Hancock building, the multi-millionaire Fr.Andrew Greeley, splendiferous in his $2,500 tailor-made clerical suit and immaculate celluloid roman collar (wearing it all the time since one never knows when the media will call up and ask for an interview)…seated in an authentic post-prototype model of the Wassily Chair from the Bauhaus…overlooking his Olympic-sized swimming pool… surrounded by expensive oaken bookshelves containing such well-known works as “In the Name of the Mother” by Annie Sprinkle, “Sexing the Body” by Anne Fausto-Sterling, “The Evolution of Sexual Practices” by Anne Johnson and Jane Wadsworth, “Female Masculinity” by Judith Halberstam and “Feminism and Sexology” by Naomi B. McCormick…decided not to waste any more time thumbing through these books and get to work promptly on his “Sun-Times” column.

He thought:

Although I am slightly past eighty my stuff continues to capture massive attention because I say the unthinkable, all the more engrossing because I am a Catholic priest. The priesthood carries an aura of overwhelming authenticity in the column-ing business which is why I always appear in clericals. Let us see, what shall I write today that will get massive…and I mean massive…public attention, drawing as much attention to me as is possible and encouraging—even mandating—television to come to interview me! What’s the hottest topic today? Sex, obviously! Sex among politicians! Readers cannot get enough of it! So today I will make an outrageous immodest proposition ala Jonathan Swift who has been so overrated as a satirist while at the same time I have been under-rated I am sorry to say. I shall make this tongue-in-cheek advocacy that politicians should be allowed to be polygamous.

HAH! Then I will follow it up like so: Polygamy is not against the Divine Law! I don’t know if it is or not but I’ll just say so, who the hell cares? Sufficient that I have said it is not since I wear a collar as a Catholic priest. There will be a few dullards…Old Guard people…pre-Spirit of Vatican II people…writing to the paper making the sticky point that while it was acceptable under Jewish law, if Christ forbade marriage after divorce even when the grounds were adultery, then even more certainly He forbade polygamy to His followers and that the Council of Trent defined monogamy pronouncing anathema on anyone who says otherwise. Well if they think the paper will print any letter beyond 14 words that carries words of more than one syllable they can forget it! Gee—maybe under the Council of Trent rules someone can suggest that I am anathema…which means more attention, more celebrity, more TV interviews, more books. Wow! That would be a whole new rebirth of Andy Greeley! I can see the headlines now: FR. GREELEY ANATHEMA, WILL GO TO ROME TO PLEAD HIS CASE! Maybe old Benedict will unhorse me! Defrock me! Put me in the stocks! Put me on the rack and have his minions turn the wheels both ways to make me 10 feet tall while I grit my teeth and say “go ahead” while the UN intervenes and calls a halt to the torture. God what an opportunity. That will trigger the Coen Brothers to do THE ANDREW GREELEY STORY! With DVD rights that would amount to…what…let me see--.

At the same time back at the “Sun-Times,” Mary Mitchell was slamming a fist into a cupped hand in ferocious anger, thinking:

Damn that Obama. The nerve of the half honky ingrate. Here Jeremiah Wright devotes the best years of his ministry to him…working up the crowd when Obama was a mere community organizer…and now to save his neck Obama disses him. He’s a Tom, that’s what he is. No anger. Careful, too careful, about blaming Whitey when Whitey is the cause of it all. I SAY ALL! Well we made him what he is today and we can break him down to corporal. I should have listened to Al Sharpton who said Obama was unreliable. I think I’m going to trim that sucker down. Where the hell would he be without people like us slaving night and day for black consciousness?

All the while at a prominent law firm which has the “Sun-Times” as a client, attorney Jeffrey Rein stands at the window overlooking Michigan Avenue and ruminates:

That goddamned paper will be the death of me yet. I told Cooke to go ahead and push Obama because they need to rev up black readership in order to save the paper from going into hock and they can keep on paying me. But dear God what they’ve done is to turn the whole rag…er paper…into an Obama broadside! Every day he’s on Page 1. Sweet…Marin…Roeper…Steinberg…Stella—well of course Stella in the city! Now they want to print the whole text of the speech…all the columns raving Obama. We got 1st amendment privilege here but good God when does Cooke’s wild man promotion cross the line to become corporate contributions? It’s the Daily Obama now! And corporate contributions in money or kind to a federal candidate are verboten under the law. The paper is a tissue of promotion for him and it doesn’t even carry a political tag line “my name is Obama and I approve this message!” Can’t there be one writer who gives a different tack? No, Cooke won’t stand for it Almost wish the Two Crooks were back along with Big Jimbo snuffling down the martinis with Black while Radler shuts down the escalator and crimps the soap in the Men’s. How long can I go on looking at myself in the mirror?


  1. Brilliant and so devastatingly true.

    You have encapsulated all of the tripe that appeared in "The Obama Times" yesterday. Only Lynn Sweet managed to make a mildly critical comment in stating that Obama's speech was less impressive because it was only made on account of the immediate "jam" that he is in.

  2. Nice satire today.
    Now, let us think of what the Rev. Mr. Wright could have in his thoughts.

    Could it be the memory in his lifetime of fire hoses being turned on civil rights workers? Emmett Till?

    Blacks being denied rooms in hotels to stay overnight when on a trip, or a seat at a restaurant so the family could eat?

    Drinking fountains for whites only? So much, much more, including the daily humiliations of a black boy, having to listen to names he and his family were called? Too much to list.

    And as he remembers the deaths of four little black girls in a church; what black children endured going into a white school, should he shout, "God bless America?" It might be a tad hard.

  3. Tom,

    I have been reading your "conservative" rants on your blog about the Wright-Obama affair. I am 73, considerably younger than you are. Lately, I have been revisiting the history of famous racists of the past. Your injudicious and callous language sounds much like the language Fr. Charles Coughlin bellowed until he died in 1972. Pope Pius XII could not restrain him and Pope John Paul II can't restrain you from his hallowed grave.

    Revisit Fr. Coughlin and you will find that his words are like your words. He was anti-semetic and Pro-Nazi. You appear to be anti-black. Have you no shame, Sir.

    Ted Bojanowski
    Village of Summit, Illinois

  4. Since white's are on the recieving end of 90% of interracial crime, I wonder what e alexander would excuse coming out of a white preacher's mouth. It's pretty clear using her logic anything would be justified.

  5. Ted,

    I am familiar with Tom Roeser. I am also familiar with the writings and speeches of Fr. Coughlin. Tom sounds nothing at all in tone or content like Fr. Coughlin.

    Show me one instance of Fr. Coughlin parodizing the indecisive fawning press? The comparison is just plain wrong, and is a blatant attempt to smear without considering the facts.

    Put up and example Ted, rather than making such unfounded accusations.


  6. Reading the comments to this truly humerous post proves to me that folks like alexander and Bojanowski are true liberals, as they have not the faintest sense of humor.

    J. Swift, M. Twain, W. Rogers, A. Bierce would sail by them like good change ups from the pitcher of your choice.

    This is a current life or death struggle for the future of our poor country, so remarks about Fr. Conk are about as pertinent as those about George III (that was the English monarch), or Hitler.

  7. Like the fabled Alice I was cruising in the blogosphere when I whooshed down the rabbit hole into “Roeserland.”

    One of the commentators to my post on the “old codger’s,” sorry Tom Roeser’s blog about the Chicago Media fawning over Barack Obama likened his satirical blog to the words of J. Swift, M. Twain, W. Rogers A. Bierce. I then pondered, maybe H.L. Mencken or Lewis Carroll was more appropos.

    Good satire cannot be appreciated or savored on first reading, so I read it three times more.

    I have concluded that scorching satire of this high quality should not be languishing on someone’s blog, no matter how notorious. It should be ready for prime time as an Op-Ed column in the Chicago Tribune or the Chicago Sun-Times, where it would be most acceptable-- or, maybe, the New York Times or the Wall Street Journal.

    Perhaps, Frank Nofsinger, or JBP, disciples of Thomas Roeser, can interceded on my behalf and encourage their mentor to have his comments about Chicago’s fawning media printed, in total, as an Op-Ed column as I have suggested.

    Ted Bojanowski
    Village of Summit, Illinois