JFK gets schooled on Chicago-style politics

Was it a golden time for  politics? Or is it just that our current toxic political climate is so much worse than anyone could imagine? I cannot imagine President Obama having this frank of a discussion with Mayor Bloomberg of NYC for instance…

Picasso on The Cross
Picasso on The Cross, Daley Plaza

Clarence Page reports:

I came across a telling example of how Boss Daley’s talents of persuasion could come in handy as a force for good behind one of my favorite pieces of legislation: the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

In Chris Matthews’ new bestseller, “Elusive Hero,” the NBC and MSNBC talk-show host excerpts transcripts of a taped conversation between Daley and John F. Kennedy. The president was rounding up votes for the civil rights bill in late October 1963.

It was two months after the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s historic march on Washington — and only a month, it would turn out, before Kennedy would be killed in Dallas.

On this day, the White House taping system picked up Kennedy asking Daley for help. Rep. Roland V. Libonati, a Chicago Democrat like Daley, was holding up the act, Kennedy said. The congressman wanted a tougher bill. The trouble was that if Libonati had his way, the bill would lose the Republican support it needed to survive opposition from southern segregationist Democrats.

“He’ll vote for it,” Daley said calmly. “He’ll vote for any (expletive) thing you want.”

Kennedy laughs. “Well,” he said, “can you get him?”

“I surely can,” said Daley, who added later, “He’ll do it. The last time I, I told him, ‘Now look it, I don’t give a (expletive) what it is, you vote for it, for anything the president wants and this is the way it will be and this (is) the way it’s gonna be.'”

That, as the old-timers used to say, is how you get things done in the city.

(click here to continue reading JFK gets schooled on Chicago-style politics – chicagotribune.com.)


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