We know that John Kass is not Barack Obama's biggest fan. Where others consider Obama's merit badge in Chicago politics a credential, Kass views it as a stain. That is a legitimate way of looking at him. And while the majority hopes that Obama puts some more steam in Washington's boiler, Kass views full-throttle federal government as more of a threat than a promise. Again, he's entitled.
But when a black man from Chicago is elected president of the United States, his election is really the story the next morning, not his political alliances or governing philosphy. And Wednesday Kass gamely did his best to make it the story. He recalled Marquette Park in 1966 when Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. led an open-housing march and was met by what he'd call the most "hostile and hate-filled" mob he'd ever seen, and compared it to the tranquil Marquette Park of today. "The difference is, black people can fish here now," said an African-American man angling on the bank of the lagoon. "There was a time we couldn't fish here. They'd kill you if you fished here."
So times have changed, and for the better. Kass did not pretend this wasn't progress. Not until the 19th paragraph did he scratch his constant itch. In a digression so abrupt it felt like something Kass dictated from home hours after he'd finished his column because he couldn't help himself, he wrote:
"There is a legitimate distance between the next president and many of us. Obama's policies will invariably feed the federal leviathan and shrink the scope of individual liberties envisioned by our founders."
After another paragraph in this vein, Kass returned to his heart-tugging theme: "Tuesday shows we can heal. A black man becomes president in a nation that once held slaves, and speaks to a city that loves him, the same city where Dr. King was struck to the ground."
That's sweet and dandy. But if the big news is that America just sold itself into slavery, why bury the lead?