Oh! How the Chicagah mighty have fallen! Apparently, Fast Eddie wasn’t fast enough because he’s sittin’ in the slammer with the not-quite-as-quick Ed Burke set to join him. But as momentous as those omens are, the surest sign of the impending apocalypse since COVID-19 is the Feds finally indicted the Velvet Hammer.
Say it ain’t so Mike!
Don’t get too excited. Not only will they bury Darth Madigan long before he spends a single night in the joint, but the sun of political sanctity won’t be rising on the Land of Lincoln anytime soon. That’s the way it is with all the best Sith Lords.
Though I can’t help but think Hizzoner is looking down, or perhaps up, on all this Machine madness as he chuckles to himself and says, “Didn’t I tell you not to get caught?” And the elder Mayor Daley never did.
My original theory was to point out how politics can be every bit as addictive as crack cocaine and it was their inability to let it go that proved to be the Terrible Trio’s undoing. But former Tribune Columnist John Kass summed that possibility up quite nicely in his recent blog post so there’s no need for further explanation.
I may not be able to fathom John’s bizarre case of Bidenophobia, but every now and then he manages to get it right.
Of course, while the former Speaker remains cool as a cucumber, the same can’t be said for his former Springfield minions who have to wonder if they’re next as they tremble in the shadow of the specter of the not-quite-dead Madigan who already haunts those hallowed capitol hallways.
But all political and public superstition aside, there was nothing magical about Madigan’s power. His “force” was the eminently basic capacity to get people elected – and perhaps unelected – and the willingness to embrace the hard work it took to do it. His “hammer” was as simple as understanding the importance of the loyal local precinct committeemen.
My immediate post-indictment effort consisted of calling my retired Illinois State Board of Election friends to perform what amounted to a virtual wake for the man. They told me that whenever the Madigan “team” submitted paperwork of any kind, they knew it would be letter perfect. No one knew the “rules” and applied them more efficiently than Michael Joseph Madigan, much to the chagrin a 22nd District contender who’d never see their name on the ballot.
Yet, despite that overwhelming evidence, Illinois Republicans still can’t be bothered with any of it. They’d rather shriek and howl about the dastardly Democrats than actually work to do something about them. Not to mention their propensity to fall in love with the kinds of silly social issues that lose general elections by double digits.
But as I ponder the once mighty Speaker’s fall from grace, I can’t help but ask myself the question Abigail Van Buren often posed to housewives who routinely bitched about their errant husbands – “Are you better off with or without him?”
Illinois may have the pension mess, a terminal case of fiscal insolvency, the rot of an undue union influence, the abysmal bond rating, the corruption, and all of the associated Democratic shenanigans. But if I had to answer that question today, particularly in regard to the City of Chicago, it would be that we were far better off with the Madigan Machine in place.
Though I have to say that declaration makes me feel a lot like an Eastern European immigrant who longed for democracy until he actually had to endure it.
We have a 300-plus pound governor who has the nerve to pontificate on our health as he wrecked the economy for no good reason while willingly destroying children’s lives just to curry favor with teachers unions.
Not to be outdone, through their absurd “bail reform,” counterproductive “police reform,” and many other “woke” measures, the Illinois General Assembly has taken the teeth out of law enforcement to the point where carjacking has become the official state sport.
Then there’s the Mayor of Mayhem, under whose auspices the Second City has descended into the kind of violent Third World hell that has businesses leaders threatening to flee the city for good. Instead of working collaboratively with police department brass to solve the problem, she calls them “fucking cowards” in meetings.
And just for good measure, as the City That Doesn’t Work burns around her, the Dwarf of Doom just told an Italian American group that her dick is bigger than theirs.
What have I been telling you about truth and fiction? And this is somehow supposed to be an improvement? All I can say is I can’t remember the last time Mike Madigan referenced his genitalia.
Even if we could go somehow to back to the halcyon Machine days, I’m not so sure I’d make that choice. And my fervent wish is this hastening Illinois descent turns out to be a suddenly Speaker-less Reign of Terror that will soon pass. But for now, it would seem we’re stuck between the Psylla of political order and corruption, or the Charybdis of utter political chaos.
And we certainly enduring the latter. I’d like to think it couldn’t get any worse, but let’s not forget that we live in the State of Illinois.