Chicago-style brass knuck­les thug­gery

The Washington Times Weekly - - Commentary -

“His fa­ther was a great friend of my fa­ther.” The ref­er­ence to William Ay­ers’ fa­ther was how Mayor Richard M. Da­ley be­gan his de­fense of Barack Obama for his as­so­ci­a­tion with the un­re­pen­tant Weather Un­der­ground ter­ror­ist. Mr. Da­ley’s fa­ther, of course, was Richard M. Da­ley, mayor of Chicago from 1955 un­til his death in 1976. Mr. Ay­ers’ fa­ther was head of Com­mon­wealth Edi­son, the Chicago-based util­ity, from 1964 to 1980.

You bet they were great friends. That’s gov­er­nance, Chicago style. The head of gov­ern­ment is friends with the heads of ev­ery big busi­ness, lobby and union, and to­gether they make de­ci­sions on how every­one else will live. Those on the in­side get what they want. Those on the out­side — well, they get what the big guys want them to have. That’s life in the big city.

It’s not the worst way to run a city. I know — I’m from Detroit, which might be bet­ter off if it had may­ors named Da­ley for 41 of the last 54 years. But it’s not the op­ti­mal way to run a na­tional ad­min­is­tra­tion, at least if you’ve promised to bring in a new era of bi­par­ti­san­ship and mu­tual re­spect. Even so, it ap­pears to be the way that Barack Obama, who once as­pired to be mayor of Chicago, has de­cided to run his ad­min­is­tra­tion.

We can see that nowhere bet­ter than on the health care is­sue. Over the spring and sum­mer, the White House door has been wide open to lob­by­ists from health care busi­nesses. The doc­tors’ lobby has got­ten prom­ises that physi­cian pay­ments won’t be knocked down too much. In re­turn, they are ex­pected to lobby for what­ever bill the con­gres­sional Democrats come up with.

The phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal firms’ lob­by­ist, for­mer House En­ergy and Com­merce Com­mit­tee Chair­man Billy Tauzin, has got­ten as­sur­ances that his clients’ busi­ness model won’t be wrecked any more than it al­ready has been by strin­gent reg­u­la­tion. In re­turn PhRMA is run­ning TV ads for health care re­form.

The health in­sur­ance com­pa­nies were on board, too. Un­til, that is, Se­nate Fi­nance Chair­man Max Bau­cus pre­sented his bill re­quir­ing them to cover any­one who ap­plies but ex­act­ing only small fines from healthy in­di­vid­u­als who de­cide not to buy in­sur­ance un­til they get sick. Since this looked like a quick road to bank­ruptcy, the health in­sur­ers’ lobby com­mis­sioned a study that pointed out, cor­rectly I think, that the Bau­cus bill would in­crease the cost of in­sur­ance to those who al­ready have it.

The re­sponse of the Chicagostyle Obama White House was rem­i­nis­cent of the re­sponse of the late Mayor Da­ley when asked an in­con­ve­nient ques­tion by a re­porter whose fa­ther and brother were Demo­cratic precinct com­mit­teemen. “Some­times in the best of fam­i­lies, there’s a bad ap­ple,” replied Mr. Da­ley, to the be­wil­der­ment of re­porters from out of town. A bad ap­ple is, in Chicago, a for­mer great friend who is not play­ing team ball.

So the health in­sur­ers have been de­nounced by White House spokes­men and Demo­cratic con­gres­sional leaders as foul fiends and gougers of work­ing fam­i­lies. Prom­i­nent Democrats have been talk­ing about re­vok­ing in­sur­ance com­pa­nies’ ex­emp­tion from the an­titrust laws (granted so that small firms would have ac­cess to data needed to com­pete with the giants). Trans­lated into Chica­goese: Nice lit­tle in­sur­ance com­pany you got there. Too bad if some­thing hap­pened to it.

The same treat­ment is be­ing given to Fox News, which ac­cord­ing to White House spokes­men, “is not a news or­ga­ni­za­tion.” “Other news or­ga­ni­za­tions, like yours,” Mr. Obama con­sigliere David Ax­el­rod told ABC News, “ought not to treat them that way.”

In other words, when Fox breaks the news that the White House green czar is a self-pro­claimed “Com­mu­nist” or that op­er­a­tives of pro-Obama ACORN have been aid­ing and abet­ting child pros­ti­tu­tion, other news out­lets should spike the story. Or risk be­ing de­moted from great friend to bad ap­ple.

Last Fe­bru­ary, Mr. Obama told Fox News (to which I am a con­trib­u­tor), “I don’t al­ways get my most fa­vor­able cov­er­age on Fox, but I think that’s part of how democ­racy is sup­posed to work. You know, we’re not sup­posed to all be in lock­step here.”

Now we are. Maybe Mr. Obama thought every­one in Wash­ing­ton would be his great friend. Hav­ing en­coun­tered unChicago-like dis­sent and dis­agree­ment, he has re­sponded with clas­sic Chicago brass knuck­les. We’ll see how far this kind of thug­gery gets him.

Michael Barone is a na­tion­ally syndicated colum­nist.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.