The above quote is one of my dad’s favorite lines. I always assumed it was attributed to Richard J. Daley, mayor of Chicago from 1955 until his death in 1976, and father of our current mayor. Turns out, however, that the more likely source is an earlier mayor, one that we don’t really hear much about these days: William Hale Thompson.
Thompson served as mayor from 1915 to 1923, and again from 1927 to 1931. His second stint came about in large part thanks to the support of Al Capone. In a classic example of Republican irony, his campaign centered around a promise to clean up the crime in Chicago. Thompson was mayor during the Chicago Race Riots of 1919, and the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre.
In a twist I find comparable to our current Presidential election, Thompson’s popularity was at an all-time low during his bid for re-election in 1931, and he resorted to mocking the foreign-sounding name of his Democratic opponent, Anton Cermak. Unhappy with its reputation as a center of organized crime, the city elected Cermak as the first in an as-yet-unbroken streak of Democratic mayors.
I found the following quote in Wikipedia. After Thompson’s loss, the Chicago Tribune had this to say about him:
For Chicago Thompson has meant filth, corruption, obscenity, idiocy and bankruptcy…. He has given the city an international reputation for moronic buffoonery, barbaric crime, triumphant hoodlumism, unchecked graft, and a dejected citizenship. He nearly ruined the property and completely destroyed the pride of the city. He made Chicago a byword for the collapse of American civilization. In his attempt to continue this he excelled himself as a liar and defamer of character.
Now take out “Chicago” and replace it with “America,” and take out “Thompson” and replace it with “Bush.” See how easily it fits.
Mandy and I voted yesterday. I am on pins and needles waiting to see how it turns out. Are any of you planning on heading down to Grant Park on election night?