February 20, 2013
New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg is butting his way into Chicago politics like some Mayor Buttinski.
Bloomberg, the billionaire, news mogul and despiser of large soda drinks, is spending at least $2.1 million here to determine which Democrat in the 2nd Congressional District gets to replace the troubled and criminally charged former U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr., D-Bud Light.
Bloomberg is pro-gun control. So he's running gun control ads, demanding assault weapons bans and so on, peeling the political skin off candidates who support the Second Amendment, proving one thing:
He's from New York. He doesn't eat in Chicago.
Because had Bloomberg bothered to actually speak with the African-American residents he's seeking to re-educate — in communities where young men with gang ties or teenagers walking home from school aren't safe — he might be surprised to learn that things aren't so simple.
South and West siders in neighborhoods that plead for additional police know that gangbangers don't use assault rifles. And that banning assault weapons won't stop the shorties from packing those handguns.
Many law-abiding residents don't want to give up their own guns.
But the Bloomberg political action committee is all about using the gun issue to shape the 2nd District race. He's already driven one candidate out, and he's hammering Debbie Halvorson, a former Democratic member of Congress who is running for the seat.
What's odd is that Bloomberg is playing in the Chicago political sandbox of Mayor Rahm Emanuel.
Emanuel's office and Bloomberg's Independence USA PAC say it's no big deal, and there is absolutely no collusion.
If you believe that, you're even more of a chumbolone than the rest of us chumbolones.
That's because Chicago mayors historically don't like it when New York mayors — or any mayors, for that matter — try to exert their influence in Chicago.
"Let me be clear," said Stefan Friedman, spokesman for Independence USA, which expects to spend $15 million in campaigns across the country. "It was in California, it was in New York. It is in Chicago.
"This is an independent operation in its entirety. There (were) no conversations beforehand."
Of course there weren't any conversations.
And, of course, if this is true, it also follows that I am the king of France.
"We're not coordinating with them," said Sarah Hamilton, press secretary to Emanuel. "There was no coordination."
But, of course, I believe her.
And may I have a croissant with that and various cheeses?
Meanwhile, Halvorson is beside herself with rage. Another candidate, Ald. Anthony Beale, 9th, is also shaking with outrage. I'm not taking their sides, but I can understand why they're peeved.
Clearly, the Bloomberg ads are doing what they were designed to do: pave the way for President Barack Obama's candidate, former state Rep. Robin Kelly.
She may not officially be Obama's candidate. But Kelly's campaign co-chair is Cheryl Whitaker, wife of Dr. Eric Whitaker, and the Whitakers are close personal friends of Barack and Michelle Obama.
And all the South Side politicos had to see was Whitaker's name up with Kelly's — and talk of an Eric Whitaker fundraiser — and Kelly began pulling in the cash.
For African-American Democratic political types, the Whitakers are like the white puff of smoke from the Vatican. It tells them that someone has been selected from 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.
But that doesn't answer today's questions: What the heck is a New York mayor doing sticking his fingers in Chicago's South Side political pie? And why is the Rahmfather allowing it?
It almost makes me long for the despotic reign of former Mayor Richard M. Daley. Mayor Shortshanks never let any New Yorker play in his sandbox. His legendary father, Mayor Not-So-Longshanks, would have scowled and sent the New Yorkers packing.
And the late Mayor Harold Washington might have really gotten upset at such affront to his South Side. Washington might have even pronounced Bloomberg an "antediluvian dodo head" or one of his other classic pet phrases.
The fact is, Mayor Buttinski of New York wouldn't have butted in unless he got permission from Mayor Rahm Emanuel.
One rule of Chicago politics: We don't want nobody nobody sent. Another rule? You never let another dog mark your territory. Ever.
Even Obama, when running for the Senate in Illinois in 2004, didn't like outside agitators. Obama's supporters constantly mocked the perpetually angry Republican Alan Keyes, who was sent here from Maryland in a quixotic attempt at preventing the ancient prophecies.
So I called a fellow who has spent decades toiling in the Democratic political vineyards of the African-American South Side. He defended Bloomberg.
Perhaps it's natural for Bloomberg — who hates the Second Amendment almost as much as he hates Big Gulp sodas — to use his giant super PAC to counter the National Rifle Association.
"The NRA is in every race," the South Sider said. "So it's only fair to counter them."
That's fair. But would the Mayors Daley or Washington ever allow a New Yorker to mark their territory in Chicago? And why does the Rahmfather allow it?
"Were any of them considering running for president of the United States?" asked the South Side guy. "If he's running for president, he'll need Bloomberg and Bloomberg's money and blessing.
"So he won't say a thing. And he'll let Bloomberg do what the heck he wants to do. Because that's politics too."
So the only Buttinskis wanted by Chicago politicians are those who have a certain value, to be redeemed later, perhaps in 2016.
Even if it's a Mayor Buttinski from New York.
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