While Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr. and other politicians were pouring water into the Chicago River to protest Mayor Daley’s proposed tax increases, a homeless person in the street takes a nap. Mayor Daley’s Administration has greatly underestimated the homeless problem in Chicago. I really wish all the bottled water the politicians poured into the Chicago River, would have been given to a Homeless Shelter instead. Remember it is getting colder every day in Chicago, please donate to the Homeless and Voiceless. Photo by Patrick McDonough
6 Replies to “Chicago Homeless Update”
I’ll bet that, if all the black politicians got together with all the black preachers, between the lot of them, they could come up with enough cash to house and feed every single homeless black citizen in the city and county.
AND, if all the white politicians got together with all the white preachers, from every white church, THEY could do the same for every homeless white citizen in the city and county.
AND, if all the brown/hispanic politicians got together with all the brown/hispanic preachers, THEY could do the same for every homeless brown/hispanic, citizen or not, in this city and county.
At the very least, all the above politicians could then establish residence for every homeless person, register them all to vote and could then count on getting even more guaranteed votes, come election day.
Any chance of this happening?
Mayor Daley does not care about the homeless. It is a shame, but true. Daley just cares about looking big to the world. Just a small man. Daley is a midget.
I was a communication consultant to Richard M. Daley, current Mayor of Chicago, Illinois, from late 1981 until shortly before he first won the mayoralty in 1989. During that period of more than seven years and five campaigns, I worked on refining his communication techniques. This work had to contend with and was shaped by historic political dynamics. There was an intensely personal nature to this political contest, where Daley’s public life in general and reputation in particular were, at that time, largely shaped by his lineage and the unmerciful comparison to the image, accomplishments, weaknesses, and capabilities of his father, Mayor Richard J. Daley. This article will evaluate the period of my work for Daley through the end of the 1983 campaign — a span of one and a half years — during which many of Daley’s communication skills and strategies were established.
I should also add that this article is shaped around the issue of change and transformation. In our field we do not discuss this much, even though in many cases it represents most of what we do in our classrooms. In organizational communication and small group work, change is a constant focus, but in the study of public figures it is often incidental to the task. I believe that the conflicts, ebbs, and flows of the change process are central to understanding the communication outcome. In this situation, Daley changed because he wanted to become mayor. A successful mayor must be a leader capable of communicating the message of direction and hope. The beginning of the Daley transformation process was forged in that first year and a half and was the foundation for what later became the Daley style of leadership.
It was hard to imagine a tougher situation. Richard M. Daley, son of the most powerful mayor in U.S. history Richard J. Daley, was trying to use his upset victory in the state attorney’s race in l980 as a platform to regain the mayor’s office for his family and a legion of believers. His opponent was incumbent Jane Byrne, a former friend and employee of Richard J., who made her name as a consumer advocate while working in his administration. Since her election to the office of mayor she had become engaged in a blood vendetta with the Daleys over the fight to keep her job — the most powerful mayoralty in the United States.
Compounding the problem was Harold Washington, a black congressman from the southside, who upon entering the primary immediately increased the stakes. This development created the potential for a three-way split with Daley and Byrne battling over the white vote and Washington winning the black vote.  The election of l983 was destined to be the killing ground of a thousand insults as the future of the city hung in the balance. The intense battle would establish new records for campaign spending (Byrne spent $l0 million) , create trends in political strategy, and introduce a number of long-term city innovations.
My introduction to this campaign began with a phone call that I received from Daley’s brother Bill, and we arranged for an hour-long meeting which included the candidate, various members of his campaign team, and myself. Among those attending the meeting was Earl Bush, Richard J.’s press secretary for eighteen years. At one point in Daley’s career, Bush had requested of the press “Don’t write what he says, write what he means.” In other words if Daley stumbled, misspoke, or got angry, the job of the reporter was to reassemble the material into rational order. As Bush’s dictum was drilled into my brain, I considered it a warning of what was to come.
At the meeting Daley mentioned that Irving Lee, a famed general semantics expert and professor in my department in the 40s and early 50s, had at some point helped his father with public speaking. Even though I felt that the coincidences of the department association and the name Irving were a little out of The Twilight Zone, it was one of the few times in my life that my name was an advantage.
Upon accepting the challenge of working with Daley it was necessary that there be a clear and unadulterated understanding of the key factors involved in this particular campaign. First, Daley’s father, Richard J., who died in office in 1976, was considered one of the greatest mayors of the 20th century. As the last strong, big-city mayor, his memory dominated city politics. As a result, Richard M. was continually compared to a deceased politician with 50 years of experience and immortalized accomplishments. Second, the Daleys felt a great sense of entitlement to the office, and their ideas of privileged access inhibited their capability to recognize their strengths and weaknesses in the campaign. Third, this campaign became a head-to-head confrontation of blacks versus whites and degenerated into heavily racist attacks. These three factors combined to turn the campaign into an intensely personal and often hostile political battle.
Making matters worse for Daley, the media constantly berated his capability to address the public. He had inherited his father’s tendency to misstate the obvious, invent words never imagined by linguistic researchers, introduce irrelevant material, and demonstrate anger at seemingly uneventful moments. The father, however, had been considered a bright, although short-fused politician, while the son’s stumblings were perceived as evidence of incompetence.
The press regularly characterized him in one way or another as “Dumb Richie,” the addled and mean-spirited son. National media picked up the theme as U.S. News and World Report cited his “lack of intellectual depth.” John Madigan, influential political editor of the news radio station WBBM, was typical with his comment, “I have visions these days of Richie Daley, if he announces for mayor, setting scenes similar to Eisenhower’s (reference to actor Robert Montgomery’s coaching of the President), but with a Northwestern University professor rather than an actor/director monitoring Daley’s performance, perhaps throwing him hand cues.” Mike Royko, a famous and particularly aggressive columnist , who was a notorious Daley nemesis, said of the state’s attorney, “If you listen to him talk long enough, you wonder whether he’s got the brains to tie his shoes.” Early in my assignment, Royko referred to me as “the professor of talk,” and that label was hard to shake. Ironically, my hiring was considered evidence of Daley’s ineptitude, and we constantly tried to avoid the question of my role, whether it was providing “lessons”or just consulting. The intense scrutiny of the media overshadowed every move we made.
Working in favor for the son of the late mayor were supporters throughout the city waiting for the word to rise up and hit the bungalows. In Chicago, the name Daley stood for job expansion, new building projects, and excellent maintenance of infrastructure. The Daleys’ reputation for delivering on their promises engendered the trust of Chicago’s big money. Many of the bankers and real estate developers liked the Daleys’ emphasis on cooperation between the public and private sector. The Daley’s theme was “the city that worked,” and they knew how to build roads, fix alleys, and clean up neighborhoods. However, the elder Daley’s record of declining race relations, indictments of allied politicians, and a lack of respect for the democratic process created serious problems that worked against the son. The 1968 Democratic Convention along with Chicago became national symbols of intolerance and police rioting. The national television coverage of the verbal assaults made against Senator Abraham Ribicoff by Richard J. and his political colleagues was shocking and embarrassing for many Chicagoans. The young Daley naturally inherited much of this mixed image and the consequent fissures created by his spectacular family inheritance. There were many people — politicians, media, and otherwise — who would have liked to see the Daley dynasty end.
My job was to help Daley overcome his inhibitions and prepare him for public appearances. Understanding the delicate nature of this campaign I was aware that the job would be a challenge. After carefully analyzing the pros and cons that characterized this contest, I decided to accept the position. I knew that our work was cut out for us.
We began by videotaping some sample speeches and question/answer sessions. My first reaction was apprehension. Daley, like his father, was not a student of public speaking. Both were men of action who in their offices were engaging and persuasive. In discussing political strategy and crime issues Daley had an unerring sense of understanding the problem and how to solve it. However, when it came to preparing for public presentations, he was unable to convey these qualities. Daley’s attention span was short, he did not take suggestions well, and he didn’t much like what we were doing. At times no longer interested in what I had to say, he would simply leave the office and not return for half an hour. The task became clear: We had to translate his considerable interpersonal skills into the public arena.
Relative to the transformation of Daley, four events emerge that I would like to discuss: a crime speech given before his formal entrance into the campaign ; an interview with Bryant Gumbel on The Today Show also prior to his announcement; a series of four debates that defined the campaign; and his concession speech. A look at these events illustrates many of the communication issues of change that came into play.
During this process, I realized that Daley was a tough and very instinctual politician and it was my job to make him an effective communicator. The overall strategy was to improve Daley as quickly as possible since a campaign was just around the corner. Washington’s entrance into the campaign not only threatened to split the vote, but it also placed race at the top of the issue list. That reality charged many media appearances and reiterated the importance of Daley’s need to be clear, cogent, poised, and ready for emotional situations and questions. This was a tall order for someone who was judged by the media as resting firmly on the lower end of the public speaking scale.
We established a rigorous routine that included the taping of future speeches, press conferences, and other speech material. The more Daley practiced a speech the greater the chance it had to be a success. Recognizing this, the veteran Earl Bush advocated the concept of following the script. He believed that the early emphasis in the transformation process should focus more on precision and less on spontaneity. This strategy, of course, was not always satisfying, but it would begin to establish a base for Daley’s being perceived as competent and credible. It was a tradeoff between a reasonable performance and a high-wire act that could be frightening.
Let me illustrate. On one typical occasion Daley was going to a northside neighborhood to deliver a speech on crime. The speech was prepared by Leland Chait, a speechwriter in the state’s attorney’s office. I reviewed the speech and worked with Daley on the delivery and questions/answers. It was a fine speech; he knew it well; I was confident.
That night Daley walked into a packed hall and, after reading three prepared lines, he delivered a speech that was mostly irrelevant and incomprehensible. The result was classic campaign misery. He had met a guy on the way into the hall who told him “something” about life, neighborhoods, and crime, and Daley decided that the prepared speech was not the speech he should deliver. Unsettled by a stranger’s anecdotal viewpoint, Daley decided to abandon a strategically-conceived speech and well-rehearsed delivery. The situation worsened as he was dogged by an inept moderator who allowed a persistent questioner to dominate the question/answer session which eventually deteriorated into a one-on-one dialogue. The audience did not see the best of Daley. By abandoning the prepared speech and losing focus during the question/answer session, Daley failed to capitalize on this public appearance.
As a result of encounters like this, we capitalized on every opportunity we could to keep him focused and, as Bush advocated, opted to sacrifice spontaneity along with other important rhetorical considerations. In the deadline-demanding world of politics you have to make choices. We made one, albeit reluctantly: tight control at the sacrifice of liveliness, interest, and controversy. Were the speeches bad? No, they simply fell short of our ideal expectations for a speaker. Did the plan work? Absolutely. The media gradually began to notice Daley’s well-rehearsed presentations and considered them to be a sign that his overall performance was improving. Newsweek observed of his progress, “Daley’s often-garbled syntax and halting delivery are regarded by many as a reflection of his intelligence, although his speeches improved dramatically after he took lessons.”
I should add also that decisions of this sort were not always rational and deliberate. They were made frequently under great time pressures. Someone had to call the shots and most of us would go along if pressed. I always found it confounding when the media would construct elaborate theories as to why a particular path was chosen. In this case, we made a decision due to issues of time and expediency, and this course of action became part of our master plan only after it worked.
A second issue was the preparation of our candidate for television appearances. Television was free, willing, and threatening. In his role as state’s attorney and candidate-in-waiting, Daley appeared on The Today Show with Bryant Gumbel. The Daleys judged people as either friend or foe, and Gumbel, who attended the same high school as Rich, was considered a friend. But friend or not, Gumbel had a style of questioning that we knew we had to breakdown and counter.
The question/answer sessions needed management in order to keep a sharp focus and produce constructive results. Realizing this, we spent fifty percent of the time on the obvious questions, thirty-five percent on the probabilities, and fifteen percent on the off-the-walls. This regimen seemed to guarantee coverage and minimize the uncomfortable situation of being caught off guard in unpredictable situations. The problem as always was that rehearsing provocative questions about personal friends and volatile issues caused campaign insiders to wince and on one occasion even to walk out of a critical debate preparation. Predicting questions was one of the campaign staff’s favorite sports. “The list” was a compilation of questions from various sources. A great question was prized but also feared by the candidate. Moreover, the question/answer needed to be handled in such a manner that campaign staffers did not become Torquemadas and use the sessions as a platform for retaliation against Daley. For some staffers these sessions became therapy to help rid themselves of their anger at the boss. This situation meant limiting access to staffers and promoting an open-minded yet respectful environment for practice encounters.
The Gumbel interview was handled by Daley with aplomb and confidence. Gumbel was not real tough, but he did pursue the issue of the elder Daley’s administration problems. Daley’s answers were right on target and it was clear that he could perform when the stakes were high. The only criticism we heard was that on the way into the studio Daley wandered around somewhat aimlessly; this elicited suggestions that he should take walking lessons.
The campaign had a number of critical junctures that defined and framed the eventual election. The most dramatic and conclusive were the four debates that were televised and seen by a large number of viewers. Although in many campaigns it is a challenge to seduce voters into watching debates, the 1983 campaign debates had a huge viewing audience with over two million people watching the first debate. The appeal of the debates was wrapped in the age-old battles and tensions among the warring factions. There was a long interval of wrangling over the formats with candidates making threats to pullout. The media coverage of the squabbles only whetted the appetite of the electorate. The voter wanted to see the candidates side-by-side. The Washington Post observed of the first encounter, “Part of the interest was to see whether the mayor could keep her composure and whether Daley ‘could speak a whole paragraph on his own,’ as one veteran analyst put it. Both succeeded.” Fervent supporters were thirsting for these head-to-head encounters and they were not disappointed.
The debate objectives beyond the issues varied for each candidate. For Byrne it was the presentation of the “new Jane,” a total overhaul of her image which included a mysterious trip out of town, a fresh, well-rested look, and some major coaching on demeanor. Byrne had hired New York media consultant David Sawyer who repositioned her by redefining her public persona and producing image-enhancing commercials that emphasized an executive style of leadership. She had been previously noted for sarcasm and inconsistency and was often characterized as rough and unfinished. Washington, on the other hand, needed to prove to his constituents that he was for real and could stand up to the Irish Mafia. Even though the most articulate of the candidates, he had to mobilize his base through solid positions. Daley had to overcome his reputation for incoherent syntax and argument as well as defend the accusation that he inherited only the Daley name and not the substance.
The first debate sponsored by The Chicago Sun-Times and television station WBBM was handicapped by Daley’s disappearance until several hours before the televised event. Two of his cronies had spirited him away to rehearse, and when the staff finally met up with him, we did not have the time to get him ready. In this debate, the topic was city finances and Washington had the message: He went on the offensive and ripped the city’s fiscal management led by Byrne and through implication, Daley. In contrast the mayor was more passive and restrained in her responses, while Daley lacked conviction and appeared nervous at times.
This experience also taught us the costly lesson of speaking into the wrong camera. The television station had a three-camera setup with one camera in the middle and cameras behind the moderator and panelists. The producer had assured me that all the cameras would pick up the candidates no matter where they were looking. (In live debate it would be rude not to look at the questioner occasionally, but this was a televised debate.) I made the mistake of encouraging Daley to be more interactive with the three cameras. Unfortunately, the middle camera was the most active, so Daley was frequently caught in the unflattering angle of looking toward the wrong camera. Now I understood more than ever the price of televised debate — the surrender of interactive communication to camera friendly positioning. Daley’s tepid debate performance put us deeper in the hole. The polls indicated that we continued to lag behind Byrne and were now trailing Washington. We needed a lift — and fast.
Critical for Daley was the second debate sponsored by radio station WBMX on the topic of crime and public safety. Daley was basically prepared for this crucial performance by a pared-down core group. The good friends and hangers-on as well as most of the staff were gone from the preparations. The good ship Debate was sinking and loyalists were jumping off. Ironically, in spite of the fact that the Daleys had no appetite for debate, this was the only hope left to recapture momentum. Our practice strategy was to simulate each participant’s role in the debate. The rehearsal interplay of the three candidates helped Daley understand the upcoming contest as a game of thrust and retaliation. He felt more comfortable practicing in a multi-dimensional arena that recreated the ebb and flow of a real debate. Now he could feel the rhythm of the debate. When to respond or look away was important and only through simulation did it become second nature to Daley. During practice, we implemented a sharper style to demonstrate his capacity for conviction on the issues. For example, we rehearsed time-pressured answers, moved from defensive to offensive positions, and discussed how to maintain an appropriate relationship with the audience.
This second debate was held before an audience composed largely of Washington supporters who were enthusiastic in expressing support for their candidate. Daley, sensing the mood of the audience, asked them to be respectful and quiet down. When they responded positively, he gained confidence. Daley’s appearance and performance were markedly improved and most of the press gave him high marks. He had exceeded expectations. The debate momentum belonged to him, the Daley camp was pleased, and we found ourselves looking forward to the third debate, which would address jobs and economic development.
The third debate was sponsored by the City Club and the Urban League and was held before an audience of opinion makers. The result was a rousing donnybrook. United Press International (U.P.I) headlined, “Another wild debate for Mayor,” and reported that, “The third mayoral debate turned out to be the wildest yet — complete with heckling by an uninvited candidate and a blistering denunciation of Mayor Jane Byrne’s new television image.” After the second debate, Byrne was overheard asking David Sawyer, her media advisor, if she had successfully followed the script. He responded enthusiastically, “Yes.” Byrne, not unlike the “Manchurian candidate,” appeared to be controlled by the power of this foreign “New York” force. We used this incident at the conclusion of this debate to illustrate how managed her image had become.
Daley’s conclusion illustrated how far he had come as a debater in a relatively short time. In what was reported as “speaking in measured, rising tones,” Daley ripped Byrne’s commercials and more directly “her New York advisors and carefully written scripts.” I can still see the Byrne contingent rising from their seats in anger at the charge of manipulation and the feeling of satisfaction that we could somehow dent that big-budget team. The third debate gave us an immediate lift and a newfound confidence at campaign headquarters the next morning. The friends came back. The debates, in this campaign, were defining the momentum.
The fourth debate sponsored by the League of Women Voters was held in a public high school. Unlike the first three debates, it was notable for soliciting questions from pre-selected audience members. It turned out to be an opportunity lost. Earlier in the campaign, Byrne had distributed $300,000 worth of canned hams to poor people for Christmas. Our staff was split over whether or not to focus on this controversial act in our opening statement. The risk was in seeming uncaring and cold, while the benefit would be revealing Byrne’s obvious attempt to ingratiate herself to voters. We bought a three-pound Armour canned ham and suggested that Daley present it to her along with an introduction that referred to her actions as nothing more than an empty gesture in place of providing real jobs. The Daleys, dismissing the suggestion as not “Daley-like,” vetoed the idea and went with a more traditional and less controversial opening.
In this debate we also lost our focus. Once again, there were too many debate preparers. In the simulations I asked several questions that resulted in hurt feelings among staff members. A certain amount of tumult ensued, and that was only the beginning. In a debate, the opening statement is the one place where the candidate has absolute control over the material. We had already tied down the opening speech and it was ready to go. We had settled the internal debate over the ham-caper introduction and agreed upon a more traditional and less controversial opening. Unfortunately, at the last minute two staffers wrote another version for the opener, thus creating another unnerving situation. One of them burst into Daley’s hotel bathroom and delivered the new version to him while he was shaving. Even though we managed to settle the situation and eliminate this version, Daley was obviously upset by the commotion. After the debate he told me that we had let him down. I agreed. This debate was in many ways a last chance to set the record straight, but there were too many opinions on what the record should say.
In all four debates, preparation, execution, and creativity were the keys to victory. The media were always looking for clues to the campaign’s alertness and sharpness. The live television debates were seen as the windows into the campaign. It was great theater. The cast included three colorful and controversial celebrities whose behavior before the public seemed unpredictable and entertaining. Like the best of television, the spectacle was immediate and compelling.
The final defining event was Daley’s concession speech. Early in the evening it was clear that he was the loser and the family decided that he should concede on the widely viewed ten o’clock news. For the staff, a feeling of dread pervaded the room. A Daley losing a mayoral race seemed inconceivable to most of them. I handed him the speech not only because nobody else wanted to do it, but also because I needed to rehearse it with him. In private, he worked through the speech professionally and calmly. His delivery was clear, precise, and compassionate. He asked the city to reach out and unite. In the message and in his style his obvious love for the city overpowered his sense of loss. The speech was well received and, even though a concession speech, it helped set the tone for his reemergence as the top mayoral candidate in the late 80s. He signaled that he had matured and that he would be a positive force in the city’s healing process. The speech gave Daley the opportunity to demonstrate his composure under pressure and dispelled his image of petulance that had dogged us throughout the campaign.
These four communication events — the crime speech, the Gumbel interview, the debates, and the concession speech — are examples of how the transformation process evolved. How change is accomplished is important to the outcome. There are four strategies available to a transformer in the change process: sudden immersion, behavioral modification, acting, and one-on-one mentoring. The advantage of sudden immersion is that the candidate either sinks or swims. In behavioral modification the person is either punished or rewarded for performance outcomes. In the acting stage, the candidate can act out the part without any commitment or understanding of the role. With Daley, we used mentoring not only because we had the time and resources, but most importantly because that relationship creates a deeper understanding of the issues and the process itself. We wanted Daley to work through the issues and master them. This was a long-term commitment: Make him Mayor!
As a result of this process, a Daley persona eventually emerged — low-key, concerned, non-contentious, and competent. However, all these traits did not come together at once. For example, even though Daley considered himself low-key and non-contentious, it was not until after the 1983 election that he was able to make the concept stick through speeches and press conferences. He stayed out of the boisterous inner-party squabbles which featured Alderman Edward Vrdloyak, Richard Mell, and Mayor Washington himself. By not commenting and staying above the fray on non-crime issues, he appeared statesman-like.
A key part of the transformation was the refinement stage. His behavior, movement, and appearance needed to reinforce his concept. In some cases this was easy for Daley. Because of his integrity and good will, commitment to fundamental ideas and sticking to them was no problem. Most of the tough refinement work was on argument. The Daley speaking style could be improved with practice, and overall, this obstacle was over-valued by insiders and the media. My major contribution was in the area of message delivery and that included developing and refining the argumentative strategy.
As a consequence, most of my time was spent discussing and digesting the message with Daley. I learned a lot about political strategy through the coaching process. But my role was to execute the mentoring process, which included refining and distilling the central arguments and working through them with him. For example, we usually met as a team first thing in the morning to decide on main issues for any speeches, press conferences, or special events. During this process we discussed objectives and positions. After the meeting, we wrote a draft and then rehearsed with Daley. This rehearsal was crucial because it was imperative that he believed in the process and the resulting message. If he felt uncertain, the situation could develop into a poor performance. Daley had a large number of friends who would drop him a note or catch him in a restaurant to suggest a dramatic idea. My personal problem was combating the “hidden expert” who lurked somewhere out in telephone-land and thought we “were in dangerous territory.” The possibility always existed that under this barrage of advice Daley would lose confidence in our message and consequently in us.
To say that Daley miraculously transformed during the 80s is an overstatement. He became a better communicator because he was willing to practice his performances and recognized the realities of increasing media demands. He never became a rousing stem-winder because of his low-key demeanor and his self-imposed limitations. Although critics continued to chide him for malapropisms and occasional off-the-wall diatribes, many of the unfavorable labels of the past disappeared. In assessing results, we can judge transformation from a number of perspectives. This particular effort met the long-term goals of the Daleys.
The election ended with Washington winning and Byrne and Daley finishing a close second and third respectively. In the end the racial split was critical. Washington received 37 percent of the vote and the two white candidates split the remainder. Washington went on to face Republican Bernard Epton in the general election and in a particularly bitter battle, managed to win. The Epton slogan was “Epton, Before it’s Too Late,” a thinly veiled racial slur. Byrne reentered the general election as an independent third candidate and failed, while Daley went back to his state’s attorney position.
Daley’s communication skills did hurt him during the election process. While he improved throughout the campaign, he never shook his image of ineptness completely. In retrospect, the major failure during the campaign was a lack of aggressiveness. The first and fourth debates, for example, were opportunities to control the agenda. We failed to take advantage.
In those two instances I needed to step up and insist on pro-active positions. I was reluctant because in truth I lacked the political experience and convictions. What if I was wrong? What if he loses and I am to blame? My indecision was a personal disappointment. In subsequent campaigns I was more willing to shape the issues and fight for a position.
My relationship with Daley taught me a great deal about communication under stress. In journals and in the classroom we can theorize about how it works and encourage acceptance of our ideas. However, practice in real settings teaches humility and sharpens skills.
This article is my first attempt to make sense out of this intense experience. The advantage of the field setting is the multi-dimensional perspective it provides on the communication experience. My involvement was comprehensive and the effect on my life was all encompassing. There were days when my phone never stopped ringing; there were abrasive encounters such as a press conference when I argued with Congressman Dan Rostenkowski over the sloppiness of his press release; and there were moments of triumph when we won the day’s television coverage. The constant grind of a political campaign hardens everyone who participates but can teach important lessons. I found the Daley experience invaluable in teaching my classes about public communication and crisis management. The opportunity to work with professionals under stress altered my perception of communication. I, too, was transformed as my decision-making style changed to appreciate a broader number of perspectives on action. There are certain communication nuances that can be understood only on the battlefield. It is hardly a unique position, but the demands of our information society will compel us to seek richer and better insights for our students and colleagues.
It is also important to address the ethical issues of transforming candidates. My first experience with even the notion was in the early 70s. A candidate for state representative from Illinois asked if I could teach him to light up a room. I was curious enough to go to a campaign speech and watch him enter the room. In fact it resembled a power outage as his personality and greeting style seemed to dim the entire room. He obviously needed a lot of work. The fact is that candidates need different degree of transformation help. In High Visibility we discussed three degrees of transformation-minimal , moderate, and extensive. In the case of Daley his work was moderate as his concept was already developed and he needed refinement.
The refinement process is an investment that is commonly made in not only the political world, but in the entertainment, sports, professional, and business world. In the example of the state representative candidate the work would have been extensive. He needed to decide on a concept within the role of politician. In his case the concept would comprise of a set of attributes that distinguish him from other candidates-crime fighter, tax cutter, young liberal, defender of old-fashioned virtue. In the most extreme cases the candidate may stretch to the point that he or she is no longer the original person. This was not the case of the Daley transformation which was moderate.
Daley was always Daley. His strong personality and sense of family destiny controlled how much he would change to get elected. Daley became more polished in his public presentations and that only helped him deliver his message. He also became more tolerant of different viewpoints and more accepting of new city ideas and technological change. However, these positions strengthened his hold on the city voting blocks and also promoted goodwill.
A case could be made that the most extensive transformation was Byrnes. Sawyer completely changed her concept from an argumentative flip-flopper to a sophisticated boardroom chair. He used the full arsenal of tricks-altering appearance, signs and symbols, behavior , material, voice, and movement. The only attribute he failed to change was her name. If she had been elected which Jane would the public get?
I am of two minds on the question of transformation. The first issue is that we all change. It is natural part of a life’s journey to learn new skills, adapt to changing media and technology, to grow into roles. It is also natural to be coached in skills that are necessary to succeed. In fact the business of coaching in all levels of american life is pervasive. The second issue and troubling problem is when the changed is either overstating certain attributes or hiding serious weaknesses. This problem while unattractive in sectors such as sports and business is really at the center of most political campaigns. In many elections the candidates spend a lot of time and money attempting to unearth the true self of their opponents.
I am grateful to Jacquie Dalton, Rachel Blank, Lee Chait, and Richard Graff for editorial assistance on this essay.
Looks like Frank had a long day begging,and now hes tired.
So many words, so little substance, all unnecessary, when the author could simply say:
“My job was to help Richard M. Daley lie effectively.”
As we have lived with, one can say a regretful “Job well done.” to this trainer of liars.
Would that he had not done his work so well.
This man would have been a
lot more successful in his
coaching, if the subject of
his work had about 30 more
IQ points.What a joke.
Truth be known, this marginally moronic mayor would
still be back in Bridgeport beating up
hapless minorities who
had mistakenly ventured into his neighborhood had the
citizens not accorded him the power and status he has.
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