Ex-Democratic Aide George Stephanopoulos Lauds Democrat Mayor of Chicago, a 'Political Icon'

On Wednesday's Good Morning America, former Democratic operative George Stephanopoulos extolled the virtues of Chicago's Democratic mayor and his famous Democratic father. Teasing the segment on Richard M. Daley, the host gushed, "...We're going to be talking to a political icon. A legendary political family is about to turn over the keys to the city here."

Speaking of the mayor whose city has an unemployment rate of 9.7 percent, Stephanopoulos enthused, "And the big question, can anyone fill his shoes?" The ABC journalist skipped any tough questions. At no time did he ask about McDonald V. City of Chicago, the historic Supreme Court ruling on the Second Amendment that was handed down this summer. The contentious Senate election in Illinois was also avoided.

Instead, Stephanopoulos asked Daley how he stayed so popular: "What we're seeing in elections across the country is very single election, it's time to throw the bums in. Throw whoever's in, out. Yet, you stayed in 21-straight years. What's the secret?"

Stephanopoulos also inquired about his friend Rahm Emanuel, soon to be a candidate for Daley's job. (Daley is retiring.) The host pushed, "Rahm Emanuel running hard to fill your shoes. When I talked to President Obama about it, he said Rahm would make an excellent mayor. Do you agree?"

The only hints to the poor state of Chicago came in fleeting references. In an intro piece, reporter Chris Bury allowed, "But he leaves behind dangerous streets and massive debt." Such a statement appears to contradict this assessment by Stephanopoulos: "Now the son, current mayor Richard M. Daley, who has presided over a period of great growth and transformation." (Richard J. Daley, Richard M. Daley's father, was another powerful mayor of the city.)

The host skirted the city's problems with this softball question: "...You've really turned Chicago into a global city. But, you know, left some problems, as well. Chris Bury in his piece, talked about the debt. What's the big job you wish you could finish?"

It's not as though there wasn't tough issues to press Daley on. In May, the Mayor was giving a press conference on the Supreme Court's gun case. Daley, holding a prop gun and annoyed at a reporters' question, threatened, "If I put this up your butt, you'll find out how effective it is."

A transcript of the segment, which aired at 7:43am EDT, follows:

 7:30 tease

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: Here in the next half hour, we're going to be talking to a political icon. A legendary political family is about to turn over the keys to the city here. Mayor Richard Daley and his dad have served as mayor here 42 out of the last 55 years. Now, the mayor is stepping aside from the job he says is better than being president. We're going to talk to him about where Chicago is today. And the big question, can anyone fill his shoes?

ROBIN ROBERTS: Big shoes to fill, as you said.

7:43

STEPHANOPOULOS: And Mayor Richard Daley joins me now. Good morning, mayor. Thanks for coming in this morning.

RICHARD M. DALEY: Welcome to Chicago, George.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Now, I know your wife is battling cancer. She had a couple days in the hospital. Is she okay?

RICHARD M. DALEY: Yes. Yeah. She's doing well. We were at Washington. She is at George Washington Georgetown hospital, great care. Came home and doing very well. First thing she asked me during the couple days is all about after-school programs, about helping teenagers. We have to do more, not only in Chicago, but around the country.

STEPHANOPOULOS: You know, one of the things I wanted to ask you about because you have held office here for so long. What we're seeing in elections across the country is very single election, it's time to throw the bums in. Throw whoever's in, out. Yet, you stayed in 21-straight years. What's the secret?

RICHARD M. DALEY: Well, you have to have passion. You have to have commitment. You have to really like people. Even though they'll disagree with you, they'll yell and scream at you at the same time. You have to have the belief that you're not in for personal fortune. And that you want to make a difference in our society and that the difference will be through education and opportunities. But, you rally have to passion and love the city. You cannot allow bureaucrats to get in your way. If you do, then people don't understand it. They want a better way of life. And they want government to work with them, not against them.

STEPHANOPOULOS: And by doing that, you've really turned Chicago into a global city. But, you know, left some problems, as well. Chris Bury in his piece, talked about the debt. What's the big job you wish you could finish?

RICHARD M. DALEY: Well, first of all, when you talk about debt, the federal government's in debt. They print money and they go in debt. We have to balance our budget. So, we're not going to be in -- when I leave office, this government's not going to be in debt. That's one thing we're not. We have to balance our budget. We have to make tough decisions. Federal government doesn't make tough decisions. They don't have to lay anybody off. They don't say, you have to cut here or cut there. The easiest job in the federal government would be budget director. Don't balance the budget and be praised.

STEPHANOPOULOS: I'm not sure the budget director would feel that way.

RICHARD M. DALEY: I look at it every day. If you look at mayors, some have to cut police and fire services. They have to do this. We have to live in reality. And what has happened in America is people are not living a reality. And you can't just print money.

STEPHANOPOULOS: So, given that, if you believe that, you know, we're in this very contentious election season right now. Whatever happens, Democrats are going to lose seats in the House. Lose seats in the Senate. That's something of a mid course correction for President Obama. How do you think he should handle it?

RICHARD M. DALEY: Well, that would be up to him. First of all, we have to have the election. He's done so many good things in the last two years. My role is to manage Chicago. And you're a mayor for all the people. I'm not a Democratic mayor. I'm a mayor for all the people. And those that didn't vote for me in '89, I only got six percent of the African-American vote. I worked them. Because they voted for somebody. They weren't against me. And the idea of bringing people together in civility, and we're known as [inaudible] on the lake. All of a sudden, we're the sixth international city in the world now. From a rust belt o a future with a vision. And education is the key. Not because recently people say education is a problem. We decided in 1995, that I would take responsibility and put my political life on the line. I said, we can do a better job. Not to blame anyone. Then after that, rebuild public housing. And the high unemployment in America is amazing, especially in the African-American community. I believe in WPA.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Government jobs?

RICHARD M. DALEY: Put people back to work. Government job. Put them back to work in the ot for profit. Help them. You can't let people sit at home and not have a future. Their children watching. Their parents not have a job. And in America, you have to be optimistic. This is a great country. It's very diverse. And I firmly believe the future can be just as bright as the past.

STEPHANOPOULOS: We showed that piece. Rahm Emanuel running hard to fill your shoes. When I talked to President Obama about it, he said Rahm would make an excellent mayor. Do you agree?

RICHARD M. DALEY: Well, I think, we don't know who all of the candidates are. I'm not going to endorse any candidate. We are fortunate to have people who come forward who want to be mayor of Chicago. I think it's the best job in America.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Aren't you going to miss it?

DALEY: I'm going to miss it, sure. But at the same time, I have confidence that the next person will do a better john than me.

STEPHANOPOULOS: [Surprised]: A better job than you?

RICHARD M. DALEY: You have to have that. Because you're not going to be the only one to be mayor.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Okay, Mayor. Thanks a lot. And congratulations on a great 20 years.

Scott Whitlock
Scott Whitlock
Scott Whitlock is the senior news analyst for the Media Research Center and a contributing editor for NewsBusters.org