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The [Thursday] Papers

David Geffen does his best impression of the right-wing hit squad and Obama fails to decry the smallness of his politics. In Geffen's Folly. And all our Obama reports can now be found in Obamathon.

And a different view of Obama's California splash, from the Los Angeles Times:

"But, truth be told, there was little that was really new or different about the issues Obama raised in his maiden swing as a formal presidential candidate.

"Washington gridlock. Poison politics. Overweening special interests. Poverty, poor schools and an exorbitantly expensive healthcare system. Candidates cluck over them every presidential election.

"Obama offered little in the way of concrete solutions. And most of the proposals he did throw out, like harnessing technology to bring greater efficiencies to the healthcare system, were hardly novel . . .

"'Every campaign evolves,' said David Axelrod, chief strategist of the Obama campaign. 'Of course we'll address specific issues in detail along the way.'

"But, he went on, 'This thing is not going to turn on whether his 10-point plan is better than someone else's 10-point plan.' Rather, the presidential contest will be about leadership and the ability to inspire and motivate - demonstrated, Axelrod said, by the ability 'to get 7,000 people to come out to an arena in Ames, Iowa' nearly a year before the first vote of the 2008 campaign."

Maybe so. But then, what of this?

"On Saturday night, in Waterloo, Iowa, Obama urged voters to demand of each candidate: 'What is your plan? It's not enough to simply say, 'I'm going to end the war.' You've got to suggest how you're going to end the war.'"

Troutman's Folly
A visibly nervous Ald. Arenda Troutman (20th) appeared on Chicago Tonight with her two challengers last night, and boy did she seem geeked out.

I'm not sure if my favorite part was the way she sidestepped talking about her legal troubles by saying "I thought we were here to talk about the race and the ward" or when she declared "Truth is verifiable and glorious to the righteous, and I am one of the righteous individuals."

It was also creepy how she frequently chose to speak directly to the camera. I thought we might see a meltdown right there in the WTTW studio.

Challenger Willie Cochran, on the other hand, was calm and composed sitting next to Troutman and stating "The most urgent issue is the replacement of the currrent alderman."

On the issues, Cochran allowed that while "most people" in the ward are encouraged by plans for bringing Olympic events to the ward, "they are also suspicious of the Olympics coming to Washington Park."

Moderator Carol Marin asked Troutman if she supported the Washington Park plan.

"I'm for what the people are for," she said.

Well, do you think the people are for it? Marin asked.

"I don't know."

Later, Marin asked if she was "in or out" with the mayor.

"I'm in with those that are in with me," she said, looking at the camera with a firm nod of the head and smile that said she was very pleased with her formulation.

Media's Folly
Mayoral challenger Dock Walls was also on Chicago Tonight last night. The Tribune is dutifully running "issue stories" assessing the mayor on issues like "transportation" and "economy" in as boring and reporting-free a way as possible. The Sun-Times just ran their mayoral candidate profiles.

Aren't these stories supposed to appear at the beginning of the campaign, instead of the end? It's the damndest thing how baffled and bored the Chicago media is by city elections.

I was also disappointed with Phil Ponce's interview with Walls. Why ask the same questions that Walls has faced a million times? Why do reporters all work form the same script? Instead of recounting the controversy, for example, over whether Walls was an influential advisor to Harold Washington or merely a coat-holder, why not go beyond asking Walls to "respond," and ask, say, "So, what was the best appointment you helped Harold Washington make? Which issue were you most involved with? Name the best piece of advice you gave him. What was your biggest accomplishment in that administration?"

Now, poor Dock Walls ain't goin' anywhere. This isn't about him. But extrapolate. What if you said to the mayor at his daily dog-and-pony show, "Hey, I found out who hired Angelo Torres! Do you want me to tell you? Or do you still not wanna know?" Or, "Mr. Mayor, seeing as how questions still linger about what you did or did not know about police torture under Jon Burge, and seeing as how the city's settlement reportedly includes an agreement that you will not be deposed or even have ill spoken of you, will you submit to a 30- or 60-minute media interview about the subject?" Or maybe more simply," Mr. Mayor, what are you afraid of?"

Dock's Folly
Walls continues to accuse Dorothy Brown of being a stalking horse for the mayor. But it would make more sense that Walls is the stalking horse, helping forge the media frame of Daley vs. Brown and Walls, which puts Brown in the company of a man without a firm grasp of reality and forces her to choose between, for example, apparing at forums and debates with him as just another marginalizd candidate or not at all, seeing as how the mayor won't deign to debate.

If the campaign was Brown vs. Daley, she would still likely lose, but I bet the media would have treated her more seriously given a one-on-one frame.

Tillman's Folly
The Lakeshore Outlook's award-winning series on the Harold Washington Cultural Center was certainly not the first look at the failed and convoluted Dorothy Tillman project. But it was the most comprehensive, built on a stack of public records and other documents that shows the value of real reporting versus just talking to people and writing down what they say.

It's definitely worth a read.

Reporters' Folly
From a Beachwood reader: "The level of sophistication regarding planning and development issues in Chicago is manifestly higher on the city's side than on that of the reporters who cover it, and until that balance begins to change we readers are apt to be finding out only what the city wants us to know. "

Warranty Folly
"According to "The Warranty Windfall" (BusinessWeek, 2004), profits from warranties accounted for all of Circuit City's 2003 operating income," Investopedia reports. "In fact, the operating profit margins on extended warranties can be as high as 70%, compared to only 10% for the products they cover, according to a December 2003 article in Consumer Reports."

The Beachwood Tip Line: A lifetime guarantee.


Posted on February 22, 2007

MUSIC - Lyric Opera Strike Settled.
POLITICS - USA Today's Op-Ed Disaster.
SPORTS - SportsMonday: Come On, Vic!

BOOKS - Chicago Book Haul: The Dial.

PEOPLE PLACES & THINGS - Chicagoetry: West Town Blues.

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