Sunday, February 18, 2018

It isn't as if we're ALL for Lipinski

Ichabod Crane
     A few readers expressed shock on my Facebook page that the Sun-Times would endorse Dan Lipinski. While I generally try to stand behind the paper—we're all in the boat together, pulling on the oars—this is a case where I have to set my face into a blank expression and mutter "sorry, not my table," as I hurry past. I'm not on the board. I don't make these decisions.
    But as people were also explaining to me the sketchy circumstances of Lipinski's elevation, I found myself  grumbling, "I know, I KNOW!" and thought I should dig out a few examples of my handling of the man, to illustrate that we might have lapsed on this race, but generally have done our part in the past and might do so again in the future. Even noble Homer dozed.

     Perhaps due to my own manifest bodily deficiencies—eggplant nose on a garbage can head teetering on a Baby Huey physique—I tend to notice personal flaws.
     When the Jedi Council sits around, for instance, trading tales of Sen. Peter Fitzgerald's shortcomings as a politician and legislator, I am apt to chime in, "And he's got that awful facial tic."
     Or when Rep. Rahm Emanuel—whom I admire—first visited, to be quizzed about his views, I had to restrain myself from chirping, "What happened to your finger?"
     Childish, I know. Even more starkly so on Wednesday, when college professor and hereditary Congressman Dan Lipinski stopped by to introduce himself. The mood in the room was somber, as befits a subversion of the democratic process, and as my colleagues established that he was going to stick to the ludicrous tale of how his father, Rep. Bill Lipinski, just happened to decide to retire so his son could miss the primary and run against a sham opponent, I fixated on his looks.
     An unsettling, bird-like quality to the man—rail-thin, glittering, deep-set eyes, a prominent Adam's apple. Like a character from literature, and I struggled to conjure which one. Then it hit me—Ichabod Crane, the guy from the Washington Irving tale, fleeing the Headless Horseman. He had the same timidity, the same lack of ... something.
     He spoke in bromides. "I believe my job is to help my constituents," he said. "My campaign is about what I'm going to do for the people." Golly.
     He said how he will be his own man, then explained his goal of finding a perch on his dad's congressional committee.
     The more I studied this frail, awkward-speaking academic (his poor students; the heart breaks) the more I felt an odd pang of sympathy. Clearly, he wasn't burning up the scholarly world, even down in the backwater of Tennessee. I'm convinced that, rather than run the risk of his son ending up behind the counter at Wendy's, Bill Lipinski decided to plunk him into a comfortable berth. He got his boy a good job, and while the U.S. Congress is supposed to be more than a sinecure for one's relatives, this can't be the first time it has happened. I can't see into the future. Maybe Dan Lipinski will surprise us, and surpass expectations. He certainly will, now that I think of it. He couldn't do worse.

                       —Originally published in the Sun-Times, Aug. 20, 2004

CORRECTION

     Six years ago, when Rep. Bill Lipinski bequeathed his seat to his son, the fortunate boy visited the editorial board to try to charm us. I described the meeting this way:
     "College professor and hereditary Congressman Dan Lipinski stopped by to introduce himself. The mood in the room was somber, as befits a subversion of the democratic process, and as my colleagues established that he was going to stick to the ludicrous tale of how his father, Rep. Bill Lipinski, just happened to decide to retire so his son could miss the primary and run against a sham opponent, I fixated on his looks.
     "An unsettling, bird-like quality to the man—rail-thin, glittering, deep-set eyes, a prominent Adam's apple. Like a character from literature, and I struggled to conjure which one. Then it hit me—Ichabod Crane, the guy from the Washington Irving tale, fleeing the Headless Horseman. He had the same timidity, the same lack of . . . something. He spoke in bromides. 'I believe my job is to help my constituents,' he said. 'My campaign is about what I'm going to do for the people.' ''
     It turns out, what he is going to do for the people is make sure that not one federal dollar finds its way to an abortion clinic, even if it meant that the 57,000 voters in his district without health insurance never get any. He was one of the Democrats who said he was voting against health-care reform, out of his concern for life.
     It was surprising to see Lipinski making a stand—sort of like a guy who crashes your party turning around and complaining about the dip.
     Six years ago, I concluded that, considering the low expectations for this Tennessee carpetbagger, "he couldn't do worse."
     I stand corrected. He has done worse. The Sun-Times regrets the error.
                       —Originally published in the Sun-Times, March 22, 2010



9 comments:

  1. Here are a few of my thoughts on Lipinski.
    He said he would get Central Ave. put through to 65th. Street (like his dad said) in 2011, not a weed has been pulled.
    Me and others had tried to get help navigating Social Security benefits from his office and were given the same form we got on the internet.
    One thing that really sticks though is, a couple of years ago we went to a Veterans Day ceremony in Oak Lawn. Our granddaughter was singing in the program. Congressman Lipinski, when asked to say a few words, got up and gave a rambling speech that was mostly about the CUBS.
    A. R.

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  2. I hope the editorial board asked Danny if his daddy picked his Republican opponent this year like he did back in '04.

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  3. Love the second piece being framed as a correction. Funny!

    Off-topic with regard to this, but applicable to the swell photo atop the blog today. Uh, that's a swell photo atop the blog today!

    It was like a visit to Brigadoon, or something, yesterday. Even the side streets in the city looked pretty much like that, for a few hours. Fortunately, we were able to get out and enjoy it while it lasted, as I figured the charming, snow-clad effect would be short-lived, which it was.

    Now, completely off-topic, did y'all notice how fast the previous snow-pack melted? I thought it seemed fast. Turns out it was "the largest 2 day snow melt in recorded Chicago weather history," which is saying something, no?

    https://twitter.com/NWSChicago/status/964658154079424512

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    1. The Buckeye State has produced some real winners (Dennis Kucinich was my Congressman from 1997 to 2013, and I actually voted for him--not once, but multiple times), and after 25 years here, I don't miss Illinois politics one damned bit. My condolences to youse guys.

      Being on the "wrong" side of Lake Erie, Northeast Ahia gets far more snow than Chicago does...two or three times as much, depending on location and elevation. As for record snowmelt, we once lost nine inches of snowmelt in a single night of heavy early-spring thunderstorms that produced record flooding and a 17-foot river rise in 12 hours' time. Not long before that (Feb.2009), we saw a 22-inch snow cover (an all-time record) disappear over a single weekend.

      Basically, I traded Chicago's winter sunshine and brittle cold for endless gray skies and endless shoveling. But eventually, you can get used to almost anything...sort of. And there are worse places if you hate snow...like Buffalo, to name just one. And closer to home, New Buffalo (MI)...hence the name.

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  4. What did happen to Rahm's finger?

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    1. Nicked it at an Arby's where he worked as a teen. Ignored the cut and it got infected.

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  5. Tic. Not "tick". Tic.

    Sorry, I am among other things the owner of nitpicking.com

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  6. This is the guy whose opponent is a full-fledged, self-acknowledging Nazi, right? Yay democracy.

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  7. When Dolt 45 finally goes down (whether it's this year, next year, or...God help us...in 2020), the celebrations will make the Cubs' 2016 victory look like a neighborhood block party. Millions will spontaneously express their joy in outpourings of jubilation and relief, and not only in Chicago, either.

    Of course I'm one of the folks who,18 months ago, predicted a lopsided Hillary blowout, but this is one prognostication you can take to the bank. Or to the streets.

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