Monday, October 05, 2009

A Worthwhile Chicago Diversion

Much has been written about Chicago, Prez O, diversions and priorities. What you may not know is a story about a 16 year old brutally murdered for being in the middle of a fight between rival teenage thugs in Chicago. The video was on youtube for a while, and I can't find it now. It's an afterschool fight that goes nuts. No guns, no knives, just fists, feet and random objects lying around. It's truly weird to see teens grab planks of wood to swing at other kids heads. Chicago is a mess right now. All of those rundown neighborhoods that were gentrified during the housing boom are suddenly experiencing the old problems they used to have. If I were a chief of staff or senior strategist, this is where I would have sent my president for the weekend.

It's a perfect set up. A speech with pretty words affecting people & emotions with no details of a plan is tailor made for him. This would be a great way to show off. It ties the current stress of the city life with the economic downturn (recession = excuse for crime). Instead of being blasted for flying off quickly to Europe to help cronies in Chicago & bask in some applause, the Prez would be applauded for going 'home' to show some leadership on city violence and compassion for a dead teen. He could even reference his wife doing her part in Europe for Chicago while he did his here at home on the issue that hits residents far closer & is a daily part of life (are my children safe?). He could discuss the sober economic outlook, and how he, the admin, and local Congressmen are doing their best to turn things around (mention hope a bunch of times). It would show him focused on the economy and being in touch with people's concerns. It would show him cognizant of teen/school/city violence. It would show him taking a position (an easy one) and leading. These are all positives, and would be a change from his wandering summer.

There is another element that the Prez and his team could take advantage of with the Albert murder: his post-racial BS. With his election, people wrote articles (1, 2, 3) wondering if this would improve social-cultural things within the black community. There are things Prez O can say about this murder and to this target audience "inner city blacks in Chicago" that no DC politician or non-black politician could say. This would be a community organizing type of event. A tragedy has happened, let's look out for each other, call a truce in these tough times, come together, etc. A white Prez saying this would be considered talking down. Not this POTUS. After reading his prepared remarks to the nation's schoolchildren, I saw some great lines in there, chuckled at how he always brings it back to him, and then noticed how it had a focus on safe learning environments and that students not "you get the sense from TV that you can be rich and successful without any hard work -- that your ticket to success is through rapping or basketball or being a reality TV star, when chances are, you’re not going to be any of those things." I wonder who he was talking to there (among other spots in the speech). How many white kids don't feel safe at school? Rapping and basketball must be what white kids think are their 'tickets to success'. (Note: to be a pro NBA player takes tons of hard work.) Obama has this unique chance to be a catalyst for change within his community. There are big things that it would be wonderful for him to show a little leadership and nudge in the right direction... if anyone can. I repeat, no POTUS in our history except for Prez O could challenge the status quo on these issues and avoid attack.

The cameras would follow him either place. Sadly, he chose poorly to deliver an empty sales pitch for something half of the city did not want. Axelrod, Rahm and even Prez O himself should have known better. His advisors really goofed on this one. A speech on the Albert murder could be a diversion that only a cold asshole like Rush Limbaugh could mock, and if Obama chose to go the let's stop the violence and behave route, Rush would be hard to go after him. Reducing city and teen violence is always a plus, and it would be a nice win in front of a far more welcome & receptive crowd. Then again, I'm a believer in picking one big issue and working it for success right off the bat and building on it. In conclusion, while a teen's death in a vicious afterschool fight is horrible and the Olympics are wonderful to watch, they pale in importance to the major issues facing our nation & requiring attention

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