The Chicago Way

Back when Kevin Costner had a viable career as an Oscar-winning actor, (something that the younger readers of this blog probably won’t remember, but that’s okay) he starred in a movie called “The Untouchables”.

In this film, which was set in Chicago, Costner portrayed Eliot Ness, the Treasury department agent who brought down notorious mobster Al Capone, portrayed by Robert DeNiro.

Among the other members of the cast was Sean Connery, who portrayed one of Ness’s agents, Jimmy Malone. As a Chicago native, Malone tried to explain to Ness, a dude so straight he made Boy Scouts look like bank robbers, what he’d have to do to bring Capone down. Click on this clip because Connery says it better than I can write it:

I thought about this scene last night as the news came down that Republican State Sen. Scott Brown had defeated the Attorney General Martha Coakley in a special election in Massachusetts to fill Senate term of the late Ted Kennedy.

If the conduct of Republicans and their anti-health care reform cheerleaders was any indication, it’s time for President Barack Obama and the Democratic majority in Congress (something that everyone in the Fourth Estate who isn’t Rachel Maddow seems to have forgotten) to realize something that most of us, especially those of us who don’t have access to health care, have already realized.

(A) the Republicans aren’t interested in compromise, they’re interested in power. They got used to the eight years they spent doing such things as starting wars, giving their rich buddies (and the private contracting agencies they own) big tax cuts and contracts and torturing the foreign prisoners they arrested on evidence they can’t bring into American courts. It’s the kind of power that’s hard to give up.

So, (b)They’re not trying to work with you. Even if every consitutent they have says “I don’t have health care. Can you please vote for reform?” the Republicans in Congress aren’t going to support it because, wait for it, not passing health care reform moves you one step closer to being a lame duck.

So while I understand that it is your nature to offer the Olive branch, it’s time, Mr. President, for you to consider doing things The Chicago Way.

The Republicans think that by getting a faux populist, truck-driving Playgirl Model elected in Massachusetts, they’ve put health care reform in the hospital. It’s time that you put them and their ideas in the morgue.

Now how do you do this, President Obama?

Well, for one thing it’s time that you stopped playing nice.

If you hear Republicans in Congress lying through their damned teeth regarding health care reform, call them on it. Don’t back down. I know that you’re not real fond of getting your Angry Black Man on, but it’s time you did. Nice isn’t going to cut it now.

Also, use your resources. Get on your Facebook page and talk directly to your friends. Use the bully pulpit that is the State of the Union Address. Take the “I know you need health care reform so get on your Congressman’s nerves” tour and talk directly to the American people. You’re better at it than your opponents and they know it. They’re counting on you to be too nice to do it. Prove them wrong.

A year ago today I was among the thousands of folks who froze their tails off to see you make history, President Obama.

If you don’t want to BE history in three years, you need to be less Eliot Ness, and more Jimmy Malone.

It’s time for the Chicago Way.



  1. I don't believe Obama by himself can out-thug the hard Right wack-a-doo element of the GOP. They're too well organized. But worse, there are a number of Democrats and a larger number of Independents who a) have a legitimate beef with the size and direction of the Federal budgets, and b) are virulently against any type of tax increases.

    It's often said that organizing Democrats is akin to herding cats. Presuming this cliche as true, meshing the Jimmy Malone School of Persuasion with Obama's pledge of transparency will prove to be problematic — especially with some of his party members in the Senate. At the same time, Obama's semi-technocratic approach to influencing legislation is kind of a loser.

    Bruh President's best move, IMO, is to take his ideas to the streets. He's been very reticent about explaining specific ideas in detail, and therefore has ceded the power of the proverbial bully pulpit to various politicians and the pundit class. What he should do is circumvent both groups and speak directly to the public.

  2. I agree with the above commenter. When republicans get all wrapped around the axle about something the president does or doesn't do, the frothing is tolerated and then ignored. It's up to President Obama to speak to the people who put him in office and break the cocoon Emanuel and others have put him in. I applauded him for saying yesterday that he didn't want a health care bill pushed before Senator-elect Brown was sworn in. You know they wanted to do that but the prez and the people are tired of the shenanigans on the hill and he wanted them to know he's pulling their card.
    Fight for us, Mister President, like we're fighting for you.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s