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Open Letter

What the hell is wrong with you? And I don't mean your prostate cancer.

Did you really think everyone in town would simply accept that you'd be gone for three weeks for a "routine medical procedure" - and no one could know why because it was "personal" and "private"?

Apparently that's exactly what you thought, or your people wouldn't have stonewalled the press until Sun-Times reporters found out about your cancer from other sources.

Thoughtful long-term planning is obviously not your strong suit. Still, let's consider the implications of your strategy. By your logic, mayors, governors and senators could be mysteriously disappearing right and left for secret face lifts, tummy tucks, breast enlargement, and you-know-what enlargement. (I presume since you consider "prostate" too embarrassing to say out loud,you would positively cringe at the other word that begins with 'p'.)

Your original thinking - which you have followed since your diagnosis ten whole months ago, before your controversial election as president of Cook County - is that prostate cancer is too "personal" and "private" to admit publicly. Me, I would have thought prostate cancer rather old hat when people like Rudy Guiliani, Robert De Niro and Bob Dole, among so many others, have long since made theirs public . . . and in an age when you can't watch sports events on TV with children because of all the Viagra and Levitra commercials. Mike Ditka doesn't seem to have a problem talking about things that begin with 'p'.

Do you by any chance remember John Kerry? Sure you do - tall, white, long skinny horse face, Democratic presidential candidate last time around. Kerry found out about his own prostate cancer during medical testing in preparation to give his medical records to the press as part of his presidential campaign . . . and before he had the Democratic nomination. Rather than keeping it secret until after the primaries or election, Kerry's campaign provided reporters with a complete timeline of his diagnosis, tests and treatment.

Kerry even gave out a bit more information than I, for one, really needed. He announced he would have "nerve-sparing" surgery to reduce the chances of incontinence or impotence afterward.

The fact that you would have been elected anyway, Todd, is completely beside the point. Your handling of this situation tells me that you don't even have the good judgment to hire public relations people with good judgment.

Who could possibly live in the same town as Oprah Winfrey and not realize that prostate cancer could have been the best thing to ever happen to you politically - outside having John Stroger for a father?

Todd, had you announced your prostate cancer early on and combined it with a massive drive for prostate cancer awareness, throughout the campaign for County President you could have posed as a courageous patient concerned about the disproportionate toll prostate cancer takes on black men . . . and simultaneously deflected all those pesky questions about your complete lack of knowledge and experience in county government.

This is known in the magical community as "misdirection." Elsewhere, it is simply called "politics."

Now that the press has forced your spokespeople to admit that you kept your prostate cancer secret for nearly a year, and your behavior makes it clear that you hoped to continue keeping it secret, the whole public awareness campaign idea doesn't really work anymore. Especially since the Sun-Times already did it, with no help from you, in April.

Get some rest, Todd. Then, get some new PR people. Because right now your next campaign slogan should be "Todd Stroger: What A Fucking Idiot".

Sincerely,

Cate Plys

*

Open Letter is open to letters. Send comments to Cate Plys. And catch up with the classics in our Open Letter catalog.



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Posted on June 20, 2007


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