If Eric Zorn’s 2/10/05 Chi Trib column, “No eye-rolling: Daley Pledge may just work,” were well argued, it would be dangerous and subversive of good government, because he naively takes Mayor Daley seriously with his most recent declaration of good intentions as regards civic corruption and moreover expects it to make a difference. He presents interviews with several office holders as if their politic and self-serving responses make his point. They do not, because they are politic, except for one that is candid enough to provide good copy that makes the column interesting.
This is by the irrepressible Cook County Board president John Stroger, who, asked if he too would pledge to take no money from people doing business with his branch of government, declined to play to the Zorn-reader gallery and said he would make no such pledge but would follow the law in such matters.
The others – a Gov’s spokesman and three probable gov candidates – all to varying degrees said yes, which is not news. Candidates and office holders do not usually tell a reporter “nonsense” when he suggests taking a good-government (goo-goo) tack, but Zorn seems not to be aware of this.
Nor does he seem aware of how goo-goo professionals can be expected to respond to the sort of statement Daley made, faced as he was with gale-force winds of stinky-poo corruption blasts. Zorn quotes – yes! – the new Terry Brunner in our midst, Better Govt. Assn. director So-and-So, and Cindy-Something, of Illinois Campaign for Political Reform (not identified by Zorn, who is perfectly willing to let its name say it all), both endorsing Zorn’s respect for the “Daley pledge.” Or is the other way around?
Meanwhile, Zorn might refer to his own commendation at year-end 2004 of U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald for “bipartisan nailing of corrupt hides to the wall,” wherein lies – with dogged newspaper coverage – the be-all end-all of anti-corruption work. That is to say, there would be no breast-beating and pledge-taking by Daley if it were not for law enforcement by an outsider with no ties to Daley.
Zorn should give this more mention and more prominence. The rest is frosting on cake – gooey and sticky and not very nourishing, especially in newspaper columns.
LET US ADD THIS: Sun-Times editorial same day sang same tune. Daley "takes shot at real reform," said head. "There was no shrugging off the changes announced by Mayor Daley Tuesday," etc. We should not become "jaded to the corruption in City Hall" and should instead put on a happy face, as a cute circle-shaped yellow sticker is pasted to a bulletin board.
So what if it’s "a case of better late than never"? We still must hand it to Daley because "potential long-term consequences" of his pledge "are dramatic and far-reaching."
Yes! Like McCain-Feingold on campaign-donation so-called reform and its spawning of 527s such as the heavily George Soros-bankrolled moveon.org.
No! The mayor is "going beyond earlier unfulfilled promises of reform" in his pledge, says this very editorial in support of using a news conference as grounds for consolation.
Does not the Sun-Times know the man will promise anything to gain a minute’s advantage in his ongoing war with dogged journalism? What on earth is this reference to "skeptics" who say "the mayor hasn't gone far enough, that he has left himself loopholes"? It’s bad to be skeptical?
Sun-Times editorial writer, give us a break.