Shortly after he announced that he wouldn't run again for mayor, Mayor Richard Daley came to visit the Tribune editorial board. The official topic was the city budget, but inevitably the conversation roamed.
"Mayor," I asked at one point, "is there one thing that you haven't been able to accomplish in these 21 years that you deeply wish you had?"
The question bounced off him faster than a bullet off a suit of armor.
"No," he said. "I have no regrets. Because ..."
"Not regrets," I said. "But something that you dearly would have liked to do."
His voice rose another exasperated notch.
"Again," he said, "you have to have confidence in what you're doing. And you have to have perseverance, determination. And you have to have leadership. You have to take a lot of flak from a lot of people and move forward. Otherwise, you don't do it. I want to be respected. I don't want to be loved. I want respect from voters. This is nonsense about love."
He went on in that vein, until he said the thing that stuck with me most: "We're in a mushy world now and that's what the problem is."
A couple of sentences later, someone asked about recycling. He visibly relaxed and launched into a happy monologue, 100 percent free of mush.