It looks like the Hipkins Standard is spreading…or perhaps Chicago politics has spread to the Labour party:
If I hear one more person accuse the Obama campaign of practicing “Chicago-style politics,” I’m gonna kick all his nephews off the park-district payroll. I’m gonna send some precinct captains over to straighten him out. Mitt Romney and his surrogates don’t understand what Chicago-style politics means. No one seems to have told them that it’s been gone for 25 years. And they don’t get that Barack Obama, in his Chicago days, never had anything to do with it.
Chicago-style politics, in common parlance, refers to the 1950s-1970s era of the Richard J. Daley machine. If you want to read a great, short book about that world, I recommend Boss by Mike Royko. The strength and durability of the Daley machine was its ethnically based patronage network, a complex system of obligations, benefits, and loyalties that didn’t depend on televised communication with a broader public. It was a noncompetitive system that in its heyday had a lock on urban power and the spoils that went with it. One of the most memorable phrases from that era comes from a story often told by former White House Counsel Abner J. Mikva, who described attempting to volunteer on a local campaign in the late 1940s.