November 15, 2012
Can an entire congressional district — like the one that just re-elected federally challenged U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr., D-Bud Light — be exiled from Chumbolone Nation?
And what about that West Side legislative district where Democratic state Rep. Derrick "Leave it in the Envelope" Smith was also elected by a landslide?
Smith is on FBI tape counting out the cash for a bribe, telling his confederate to "just leave it in the envelope." And he wins. Does that make you want to shower the district with your hard-earned tax dollars?
And what of my beloved Southwest Side? That's where House Speaker Michael Madigan, D-Lisa's Daddy, the state Democratic Party chairman, has been elected decade after decade, so he may hold this state in his claws and plunge it into bankruptcy, as wealthy Republicans line up to smooch his bony political behind.
Should the voters from these districts be banished from Chumbolone Nation? Certainly, exile is a harsh punishment. But not as harsh as denying them fire or water. But if not exile, what are we chumbolones to do with them?
"I couldn't believe the Jackson thing," said a fellow chumbolone, a North Side liberal Democrat who was amazed at how the Jackson business has played out.
"I mean, you watch these political shows where the fictional politician takes a massive dive and then gets resurrected and gets away with it, but you think, oh, that's fiction. But this is real! And he gets away with it. And it's not fiction!"
It's not fiction. It's Chicago.
It was on display election night on WGN-TV. The Rev. Jesse "King of Beers" Jackson came on via phone hookup. I was sitting in as some kind of political analyst, although my real role was skunk at the garden party.
Rev. Jackson began babbling some vague, singsong nonsense about voter suppression, a subtle play of the race card by a race-card-playing master. They weren't suppressed in the 2nd District, were they?
Sadly, I had to interrupt his ruminations to tell him that all politics is local, and then to ask about his troubled son, Congressman Bud Light.
For months on end, Jackson Jr. had been hiding from voters, not campaigning, claiming mental stress and checking into the Mayo Clinic, then out, then in again. All the while, he was also suffering from an acute federal investigation into his spending of campaign funds. It's called feditis.
As he hid, his minions delayed and manipulated the public. They cynically established a public relations foundation for an insanity defense or an excuse to cop a plea. It became a soap opera. And Jackson Jr. won by a landslide.
I asked Rev. Jackson: A month from now, after your son is elected, after he drops out and resigns, who will you have replace him? Your son Jonathan? Or your beloved daughter-in-law, Sandi?
"I will not answer your questions," Jackson said. "Your questions are extremely inappropriate."
Me? Inappropriate? Perhaps the Rev. King of Beers thought he was in another era, when he could call a national boycott of Budweiser, brand the company as racist, then quietly accept its homage as his sons were given the lucrative Budweiser distributorship on the North Side of Chicago.
Or maybe he thought it was in the 1970s and guilty white liberal reporters would tremble at the prospect of his rage. But he forgot something. I'm neither liberal nor guilty. And Greeks have only been white since Jacqueline Kennedy, America's queen, married the swarthy Aristotle Onassis.
So I asked it again, same idea, same players, same scenario: The congressman steps down. Who gets Daddy's nod? The second son? Or the daughter-in-law (who lives in Washington, yet somehow serves as alderman of the 7th Ward)?
"Inappropriate," the Reverend said. "Inappropriate."
I'm Dr. Inappropriate.
By not answering, he made things clear. After a lifetime of publicly discussing the right and wrong of things, it comes down to this:
Shut up. We've got the votes.
I wasn't the only one who thought it would turn out this way. Most political reporters had figured out the scenario, as did many of you. And right after the election, as if on cue, we heard unconfirmed reports about Rep. Jackson and a possible plea deal. If those reports are true, Junior's re-election has given him at least some leverage with the feds. He wasn't elected to serve his constituency — he was elected to serve himself.
We know the political class treats us like chumbolones, like idiots. The politicians keep getting elected to fill their treasure chests and the rest of us wonder what dog food will taste like when we're old.
So we call ourselves Chumbolone Nation. We're of all parties and of no parties. It's not about party. It's proud self-mockery, to let them know we're not oblivious to their schemes.
But what of the others, the thousands upon thousands who voted for Congressman Bud Light and Leave it in the Envelope and Boss Madigan?
They're not chumbolones like us. They're not victims. They're greedy morons, white and black and brown, barbarians slapping the rest of us in the mouth. They vote for a payoff, and ultimately, we chumbolones are the ones who end up paying.
Exiling them is impossible. But we can't excuse them either.
That would truly be inappropriate.
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