Joseph Epstein on the arcane nature of politics in Chicago. An excerpt:
For a brief patch, 1983-87, Chicago voters went for idealistic incompetence, and elected a black mayor, Harold Washington, who died in office. It wasn’t, I think it fair to say, quite worth it. This was the period in Chicago known as the Council Wars, in which the 50 aldermen of the City Council, a group that makes Ali Baba’s 40 thieves look like l’Académie française, was divided down the line between black and white, with ugly racial feeling right out in the open. Like an unsuccessful movie, the Council Wars left no one to root for, with scoundrels on both sides of the divide. Black or white, when a Chicago alderman speaks on television, one mentally crayons in the eye-patch, the hooped earring, the parrot on his shoulder.