A Curiously Rahmsian Tone

John Kass, chronicler of the Chicago Way, looks behind the Hope and Change curtain:

…[California Congressman Darrell] Issa is demanding to know who is behind a series of letters sent by several Obama Cabinet secretaries to Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer that subtly threaten to withhold federal dollars from the state if Republican critics like Sen. Jon Kyl of Arizona don’t shut up. The letters are curiously Rahmsian in tone:

“However, if you prefer to forfeit the money we are making available to your state … please let me know,” wrote Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood, a former Illinois congressman who is no stranger to how things work in Chicago.

In high school civics, Americans learn that public dissent is noble, a cornerstone of our system of checks and balances, a guarantor of the health of the republic. But in Chicago, dissent is not appreciated. Public criticism is called by another name:

“Beefing.”

And those who engage in “beefing” are described, derisively, as “beefers.” We even have a slogan about it: “Only losers beef.”

But nobody told Issa, the ranking Republican member of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.

“These tactics have been characterized as a ‘fist to the nose’ and a message to ‘back off,’ ” wrote Issa to Emanuel. “While this type of scare tactic might work in Chicago, it will not work to intimidate me or other members of the United States Congress.”

Oh, really?

It’s painfully clear that Republicans don’t know much about the Chicago Way, where citizens, even Republicans, are expected to take what big government gives them. If the political boss suggests that you purchase some expensive wrought-iron fence to decorate your corporate headquarters, and the guy selling insurance to the wrought-iron boys is the boss’ little brother, you write the check.

Otherwise, government inspectors may arrive, demanding to know why your thing-a-ma-bob isn’t coupled with the whoosy-whatsits, in the manner of the prescribed flibber-mcjibbits, as outlined in the appendix of the municipal code. Then you’ve got real problems.

No one knows this better than Emanuel, who was elected to Congress with the help of a gigantic illegal patronage army, run by City Hall’s Water Department boss Don Tomczak, who is now in prison for taking bribes. Emanuel said he didn’t know that Tomczak’s tough guys were working his district. But I insisted on calling him U.S. Rep. Rahm Emanuel (D-Tomczak) anyway.

The national media — and the Republicans — weren’t all that interested in Chicago politics when Obama was campaigning. The pundits were too busy smoking their Hopium. National Republicans made one little commercial about the Chicago machine, but Mayor Daley said there wasn’t any machine, and that was that.

So I called Issa to find out what the heck he thought he was doing, beefing all over America.

“I’m an old Army guy,” said Issa over the phone. “If you can’t see the target, sometimes you fire to keep their heads down, knowing they’ll duck their heads. This letter was sent to Emanuel, but I know that President Obama will have seen it.”

What bothers Issa is all that Chicago-style muscle in the White House.

“They’re taking over the Census, and Cabinet officers threaten to cut funds to states of critics of the president,” Issa said. “Rahm obviously still thinks he’s running Chicago politics in Washington.”

Actually, the guy who runs Chicago is named Daley. Why didn’t Issa just write to Daley, asking the mayor to order the president to get Rahm off his back?

“If I wrote to Richard Daley, I’d likely get a horse’s head in my bed, and I don’t want a horse’s head in my bed,” Issa said, jokingly.

“Chicago is run a certain way, and that’s a decision made by the people of Chicago,” Issa said. “But the United States of America is run with minorities having rights and active dissent. And now people are being silenced. We’re not a country run on patronage, where if you do the right thing, a family member ends up with a political job. That’s not the way the American people expect the country to be run.”

Really?

Americans elected a man from Chicago who would transcend the old politics. But a bunch of guys from City Hall are now in the White House, running things.

So what’s the beef?

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