Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Card Game

The backstory is this:
A campaign official for Cook County Board president candidate Ald. Todd Stroger (8th) resigned his position Tuesday following news of his arrest last week for allegedly harassing an ex-girlfriend.
Sean Howard, who was a scheduler for Stroger and who also serves as spokesman for the Village of Dolton, quit his campaign post after a spokesman for Stroger's opponent, Cook County Commissioner Anthony Peraica (R-16th), mentioned Howard's arrest to a group of reporters Tuesday morning.
But making a bad situation much worse is this:

Robert Shaw, who with his brother is a longtime supporter of the Stroger family, said he was outraged the Peraica campaign would stoop to leaking arrest information about Howard, and claimed it was racially and politically motivated.

"This leak is from an individual who's trying to get at Todd Stroger, in my opinion," Robert Shaw said. "It can't be nothing but something anti-black."

"I've been in this business (of politics) for 54 years, and I've seen all kinds of tricks. I think this is an attempt to malign a respected black man," Shaw said.
Now Dan Proft and I may disagree on some things, but not on this on issue. In fact, I think that he summed things up pretty well.
Peraica campaign spokesman Dan Proft scoffed, saying, "Howard got arrested, and it's our fault? These guys are embarrassing.

"This has nothing to do with politics, nothing to do with us, nothing to do with race. This is a charge filed by a black woman against a black man by the Flossmoor Police Department. That is where the circle closes."
Given their past relationships, and a little knowledge of the Shaw brothers, I'm working from the presumption that Shaw's comments were made with the intention of helping the Stroger campaign.

But if his logic is that he can ramp up turnout in the African-American community by playing the race card where it doesn't appear to be at issue, that strategy seems not only disrespectful to the very community at which it is aimed, but also likely to backfire.

I think that frivolously playing the race card is an offense to the legacy of all people who fought for, and continue to fight for, civil rights. And I believe that the vast majority of intelligent people, of every color, feel the same way.

If, on the other hand, Shaw sincerely believes his comments, that's just inexplicable. Maybe I'm being naive, but I don't remotely see any indicia of race in what happened. I've seen worse done than leaking public information in countless elections involving white, black and Latino candidates. (Maybe somebody should ask the Shaws about what was done to Rep. David Miller in the last election cycle.) Noble politics? No. Racist? Not a chance.

In any event, I think that Shaw's remarks will do nothing but force Stroger to have to comment about them which, three weeks out from an election in an surprisingly tight race, cannot be what he wants to be doing.

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