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 Obamas 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.
Lets see. God the biggest thing I have to watch out for is that this paper not be considered racist. Thats first and foremost. So suppose I start out with the thought that Obama is undeniably the most talented man of his generation. No, cant say that. Cant 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, lets say the most talented public official of his generation. Is that right? No, thats 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: Ill do what I do best, balancing ideas so that theres something for everybody. On one hand Obamas brilliant. On the other handhere I go!
As Cringeley started to type the on-one-hand-then-the-other-hand Tribune editorial on Obamas 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 firsta liberal black man or a liberal white woman.
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 havent been noted for sensitivity to womenbut 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 Ill 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.
Me write simple with crayon. Obama is great. Obama is whats 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. Thats 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 mattersstates 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.
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 encouragingeven mandatingtelevision to come to interview me! Whats 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 dont know if it is or not but Ill 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! Geemaybe 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. Hes a Tom, thats 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 Im 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 theyve done is to turn the whole rag er paper into an Obama broadside! Every day hes on Page 1. Sweet Marin Roeper Steinberg Stellawell 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 Cookes wild man promotion cross the line to become corporate contributions? Its 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 doesnt even carry a political tag line my name is Obama and I approve this message! Cant there be one writer who gives a different tack? No, Cooke wont 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 Mens. How long can I go on looking at myself in the mirror?