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Michael J. Mushroom

Wednesday, Aug 26, 2015

* If you read this 2009 interview of House Speaker Michael Madigan regarding the late Mayor Richard J. Daley, you’ll see that Madigan did a long stint as an eager and unquestioning foot soldier before rising to power in his own right

[Daley] was the commander. He would give his orders and give his directions. And this is an important point with me—It’s because there was a group of people like myself, about the same age, that came in as ward committeemen in the early seventies. There was Alderman Burke, Ed Vrdolyak, Tom Hynes, Congressman Lipinski, Alderman Mel, and Ed Kelly. This was the group there that came along at about the same time, and if they were being honest with you, they would tell you that they would have trouble living under his methods.

So they were duly elected to whatever office they held. After a while, they would think, “Well, I ought to be part of the decision-making.” So they would be troubled by that. They would struggle with that. There would be complaints when he would make a decision and they didn’t like it. But with me, I had no trouble with that at all. That was because, to me, the mayor was just a carbon copy of my father. So I’m the only son. I have a sister. There were two children in our family. My father was very strong-willed. He was not inclined to change his opinions on things

* And

I got a call to come over and see [Daley] at city hall. We sat down, and he started into a negative conversation about [Gov. Dan Walker]. He said, “He did this wrong. He did that wrong. We’ve got to take that guy out of the governor’s office.” So I listened for a while. Then finally, I just said, “Mr. Mayor, you don’t have to convince me. I’m part of your team. If you want to be against this guy, fine. Sign me up. I’m ready.”

And so, in that election, in this ward, we defeated Walker sixteen thousand to eight thousand—two-to-one. So there are two points—There was his political genius in organizing that effort against Walker, and then there was my relationship where I was not going to disagree with him. Every once in a while, he’d ask for my opinion and I’d give him my opinion. But I was not going to make a cause out of it. I was very happy to be there.

He was just “happy to be there.” Very telling.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - chiatty - Wednesday, Aug 26, 15 @ 10:42 am:

    This is very unsurprising to me. MJM is a misunderstood man by many in the public, even though many hereabouts understand him quite well.

  2. - Mama - Wednesday, Aug 26, 15 @ 10:46 am:

    I’m not surprised they were close allies.

  3. - Wordslinger - Wednesday, Aug 26, 15 @ 10:48 am:

    Lot of great stuff in that oral history project. Highly recommend it.

    And I hope they keep adding to it. There are still those around who could add valuable first-hand accounts of Richard J., but they won’t be around forever.

  4. - walker - Wednesday, Aug 26, 15 @ 10:51 am:

    Hmm. Very worth thinking about.

    Sounds like most up-and-coming young managers in any major corporation. The shame is when they continue acting like that when they are older and more experienced. Or when the boss expects everyone to always act like that.

  5. - Wordslinger - Wednesday, Aug 26, 15 @ 10:59 am:

    Mama, they weren’t allies, Richard J. was Tne Boss.

    Madigan was happy to be there, because if he didnt play ball, he would soon find himself nowhere.

    Some talk about “Madigan and the legislators he controls,” and “The Chicago Machine” but it bears no resemblance to the power Richard J had on the city, county, state and federal levels.

  6. - Oswego Willy - Wednesday, Aug 26, 15 @ 11:03 am:

    Access to Mayor Richard J. Daley was more important than having an opinion to share with Mayor Richard J. Daley.

    Even “Nuke” LaLoosh knew… he was happy to be there, hoped to help the ball club and hopefully thibgs would work out alright.

    Great insight on the evolution of the Speaker.

  7. - siriusly - Wednesday, Aug 26, 15 @ 11:04 am:

    This could easily be Rauner talking about how he expects people to follow his orders without question. He doesn’t want their opinion, he wants their obedience. Ironic.

  8. - @MisterJayEm - Wednesday, Aug 26, 15 @ 11:07 am:

    “Every once in a while, he’d ask for my opinion and I’d give him my opinion. But I was not going to make a cause out of it. I was very happy to be there.”

    Or in other words, “Know your role and shut your mouth.

    – MrJM

  9. - Georg Sande - Wednesday, Aug 26, 15 @ 11:10 am:

    Very telling indeed.

    Are we Illinoisans “happy to be here” in Madiganistan?

  10. - Anonymous - Wednesday, Aug 26, 15 @ 11:12 am:

    “Not inclined to change his opinion on things”…very telling.

  11. - Oswego Willy - Wednesday, Aug 26, 15 @ 11:12 am:

    ===Are we Illinoisans “happy to be here” in Madiganistan?===

    Only victims of themselves ask that “question”.

  12. - Bogey Golfer - Wednesday, Aug 26, 15 @ 11:23 am:

    Madigan is the classic company man. I’m sure he’s a bit bewildered when those within his party question his judgment.

  13. - Anonin' - Wednesday, Aug 26, 15 @ 11:23 am:

    Wonder if TeamBungle and the folks they rent have skimmed this one? Might help them understand why they are so far behind.

  14. - Anonymous Redux - Wednesday, Aug 26, 15 @ 11:25 am:

    Very telling indeed.

    Are we Illinoisans “happy to be here” in Madiganistan? - Anonymous

    Not nearly as telling as your inane comment.

  15. - Gooner - Wednesday, Aug 26, 15 @ 11:33 am:

    I may be reading this wrong, but it seems to me that the Speaker learned a slightly different lesson.

    The Speaker seems to require one vote — for the Speaker. Beyond that, for the most part it seems that membership can have their own opinions.

    That seems to be how the Speaker can have a veto-proof majority on paper but still not be confident of an override on contested matters.

  16. - Amalia - Wednesday, Aug 26, 15 @ 11:45 am:

    I enjoy every bit of coverage of Speaker Madigan. he’s very smart, he has a long history in this state, and he was smiling in that interview at the State Fair. say what you will about him, but Richard J. Daley would not have given that interview. not with the specifics or the humor. fun to learn about the training of Madigan.

  17. - Kasich Walker, Jr. - Wednesday, Aug 26, 15 @ 12:08 pm:

    Maybe Gov Rauner is happy to be there, too, trying to shut down the state until his or someone else’s ideas of “reform” that he has adopted as his own — end pensions, weaken women’s comp, cut salaries throughout the state — are in place.

    It’s hard to believe that’s what motivates any individual or that it’s something he always wanted to do with his wealth. Those “ideals” seem more organizational.

    Maybe the Governor is happy to be part of some bigger plan.

  18. - Kasich Walker, Jr. - Wednesday, Aug 26, 15 @ 12:12 pm:

    Obviously the “workmen’s” comp, not “women’s” comp, was meant above.

    Pardon the typo.

  19. - Norseman - Wednesday, Aug 26, 15 @ 12:24 pm:

    A big takeaway for me was the level of respect that was shown to the person in office. That’s one thing Rauner needs to learn.

  20. - Arizona Bob - Wednesday, Aug 26, 15 @ 12:50 pm:

    =A big takeaway for me was the level of respect that was shown to the person in office. That’s one thing Rauner needs to learn.=

    Ummm…RAUNER is the top person in office, Norseman. He’s the ranking office member in Illinois. Madman doesn’t need to learn it. This story shows he already knows it. He just chooses to kiss the ring of corrupt Dems, NOT those with voter mandated bonafides….

  21. - Amalia - Wednesday, Aug 26, 15 @ 12:56 pm:

    @Kasich Walker Jr., actually, worker’s comp is accurate.

  22. - Tammy - Wednesday, Aug 26, 15 @ 1:27 pm:

    Fascinating. A must read for anyone who wants to understand Illinois politics.

    Interesting that Madigan thought Daley was in his absolute prime in 1975-76, right at the time of his death at age 74. (Most would say the mayor was at his peak of power ten years earlier.) I think the speaker turns 74 next year, so given the way the Speaker admires and emulates Daley, he probably thinks he’s just entering his prime now.

  23. - Precinct Captain - Wednesday, Aug 26, 15 @ 1:50 pm:

    ==- Arizona Bob - Wednesday, Aug 26, 15 @ 12:50 pm:==

    The voters sent Democratic majorities to Springfield Bob. They have done so few quite awhile now. Governor Wine Club needs to learn that.

  24. - Demoralized - Wednesday, Aug 26, 15 @ 1:51 pm:

    ==NOT those with voter mandated bonafides==

    What in the heck are you talking about. As far as I know anybody that was elected has “voter mandated bonafides.” Unless you are one of those goofs who thinks that some elected officials are more “elected” than others.

  25. - A Citizen - Wednesday, Aug 26, 15 @ 2:33 pm:

    JMJ was elected to office in a rather tiny district in Chicago that he had drawn specifically for that purpose. Now the population makeup there has shifted and he is having it redrawn once again to ensure election success once again. Rauner on the other hand had to accept the boundaries of the entire state of Illinois as his “District” to represent. Seems MJM is the one rigging the dealio, huh?

  26. - nona - Wednesday, Aug 26, 15 @ 3:19 pm:

    == he just chooses to kiss the ring of corrupt Dems.”

    It’s a good things there are no corrupt Republicans. Hastert and Schock haven’t been convicted, after all.

  27. - Vote Quimby! - Wednesday, Aug 26, 15 @ 3:53 pm:

    Ironic about Walker, in the fact that Paul Simon lost the gubernatorial primary due to his perceived association with The Machine. Then Daley wants him out…

  28. - Georg Sande - Wednesday, Aug 26, 15 @ 4:05 pm:

    Very telling indeed. #Madiganistan

  29. - Precinct Captain - Wednesday, Aug 26, 15 @ 4:33 pm:

    ==- A Citizen - Wednesday, Aug 26, 15 @ 2:33 pm:==

    Madigan’s district is overwhelmingly Hispanic and he keeps winning. Wise up.

  30. - Upon Further Review - Wednesday, Aug 26, 15 @ 4:55 pm:

    “Madigan’s district is overwhelmingly Hispanic and he keeps winning.”

    Is Madigan still winning because the Hispanic voters cheerfully support him or is it because that Hispanics have poor voting habits and the old guard White ethnics show up on election day?

  31. - Wordslinger - Wednesday, Aug 26, 15 @ 5:38 pm:

    UFR, what are “poor voting habits.”

    Not voting for your guy?

    If that’s the case, there’s a lot of that going around, from my perspective.

  32. - Yellow Dog Democrat - Wednesday, Aug 26, 15 @ 6:06 pm:

    Great leaders look out the window when attributing success and in the mirror when attributing blame.

    Bruce Rauner and the rest of the GOP - more often than not - do the exact opposite.

    Madigan’s humility in this story is the exact sort of character that renowned business writer Jim Collins says great leaders are made of.

    75 percent of the people we know in politics embellish their records. Or governor has never failed - just ask him. Our junior senator thinks he’s Jack Ryan. Our former governor was a lifelong champion of good government - except during his job as patronage chief.

    But Madigan, he was just a foot soldier in Daley’s army.

  33. - steve schnorf - Wednesday, Aug 26, 15 @ 6:44 pm:

    Citizen, interesting news that we’re doing a new remap. Where did you pick that up?

  34. - Huh? - Wednesday, Aug 26, 15 @ 9:15 pm:

    My take away is that Mr. Madigan understood there was 1 boss who ran the show. In the case of Chicago, it was Richard Daley. Madigan understood his purpose and position in the hierarchy.

    The story about Walker illustrates that Madigan understood the power of the Mayor and the willingness to wield the power.

    Mr. Madigan is an old school politician. He understands the power he wields and how to get things done.

  35. - Upon Further Review - Thursday, Aug 27, 15 @ 1:08 pm:


    Let me spell it out for you. Election returns have demonstrated that Hispanic voters generally do not participate in elections to the same degree that other groups do. So my reference was to “voter apathy.”

    It was an interesting interview to read, but Madigan made a few minor historical mistakes: Richard J. Daley lost his race for Sheriff in 1946, not 1948, which was a good year for Illinois Democrats.

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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