Boss Review Mike Royko
Mike Royko captured the life of a truly amazing man, Mayor Richard Daily. Royko in the book, Boss, follows an diffident beginnings on the South Side of Chicago in the Bridgeport neighborhood to Daley’s rise as a powerful politician. Being born in 1902 and rasied by Michael and Lillian Daley. Difficult by humble house which some accredited later to Richard’s difficulty in communicating. Daley did not have siblings to communicate with early in life. Even after public life he still had a difficult time voicing his opinions.
Daley was a shy, introverted child who was not a standout in academics or in sports Sometime in his early years, many schoolmates found leadership and qualities and an intangible charisma that both proved to be crucial later in his career. It was not common not see many children those day to not attend college.. For his high school education, Richard’s parents sent him to a school run by the Christian Brothers, where he learned office skills and discipline and order. After graduating, he wound up with his first city job.
He would stay on the government’s payrolls for the next forty-eight years, twenty of those years as Mayor of Chicago. While one would think the title “Boss” would refer to his mayoral career, it more appropriately was a reference to his long-term control of the powerful Chicago political machine. As head of the machine, he knew everything about everyone in the Democratic Party. He had control of the money and the thousands of patronage jobs that he handed out like candy in return for bringing in the vote.
The machine presided over the ward bosses, precinct captains and the voters. The Boss controlled the Machine with a selfish fervor. He made the unusual move of maintaining chairmanship of the Illinois Democratic Party (The Machine) even after he became mayor. He was well aware that the Machine held more power that the position of mayor. At one time, he was considered the most powerful man in Illinois and the second most powerful man in the nation, just behind President John F. Kennedy. The story of Richard J.
Daley reveals an undeniable parallel between the man and the city. Daley excelled in the rough politics in the notoriously corrupt Chicago. Would he have been as successful in another city or state? Perhaps not, but Daley was the perfect match for Chicago. He was a man whose less than pure ethics was understood by Chicagoans. Perhaps he wouldn’t have been as understood and accepted in another environment. Although he dealt with known corruption, Daley operated within a strange dichotomy, a parallel universe.
While he was not known to take a dime, he operated with others who did. As boss, he would just tell them not to get caught. He was a devout Catholic who attended mass every morning yet he allowed the poor to suffer for years in inadequate housing and under brutal police abuse. Richard J. Daley was a rough-tough character, Chicago rough-tough. His grammar and speaking skills did not bring the praise of teachers–far from it. He was hot-tempered, simple, devious and powerful. Many in the country may not have understood him, but Chicagoans did.
Daley reflected Chicago. Daley was a product of his neighborhood. He reflected its values–loyalty to family, neighbors, old buddies, the corner grocer. Good neighbors cut their grass and don’t have their TVs too loud. He was a pious man–ever faithful to his church, mom and apple pie, disturbed by public displays of immorality. But if somebody in City Hall had a chance to make some money on the sly, Daley wasn’t into lecturing except perhaps for a simple one: “Don’t get caught. ” If Daley sometimes abused his power, it did not offend Chicago.
The many immigrants into the city fully understood a man in authority wielding power, a power they had long ago learned to bow to. Not only was Daley not offensive, he became a father figure to many in the city. There was an odd security that he offered. Although Daley has passed away, he has left an indelible legacy for the city that long will survive him. Daley was like Chicago–nothing was better than a good, political brawl. The city he loved will remember and embrace that legacy for years to come.