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Dangerous Games


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To the editors:

Not that I don't share Mike Miner's cynical regard for army specialist Patrick Daley's career move to Iraq (Hot Type, January 14), but there's an element not considered that can only unsettle those who do actually recall it: about 40 years ago we had another shining political youth, perhaps more shiningly political than even the present Daley scion--Obama-like, in fact, if you can apply that weird notion to the old-line, Daley-run Democratic machine--whose career arc presages eerily what we're witnessing today. A close acquaintance of the mayor senior's family (and, per Jimmy Breslin, the closest friend of his second son, Mike), golden boy president of his senior-year high school class (which I know about firsthand, since I was there), to college at Harvard (with a letter of recommendation from President Kennedy, it was rumored), then four years later to U. of C. for a degree in law--which I'd guess he never achieved since the last I heard, circa 1967, he'd joined the marines, as a junior officer shipped out to Vietnam.

A familiar Kennedy-esque ring to this, the old PT-109 trajectory: not just another bright neighborhood boy--like, e.g., Morgan Finley, with county assessor potential--but someone of whom great things were expected, momentous even, of the widest national scope. Except it never happened: Lieutenant Joseph T. McKeon came home in a casket . . . though they did name a park after him--actually a play lot, at 36th and Wallace, near the family funeral parlor--and if the one photo I've seen of the place is any indication, it's a riot of wildflowers in the summer. But if ever there were a sure thing in the world of political up-and-comers, then Joe McKeon was--or should have been--it. The fact that he wasn't comes back to haunt us now, an ominous doppelganger presence--which is why I can't easily scoff at the hand-me-down heroics currently on display, idiotic though they may be. Army specialist Daley's family will certainly remember, will certainly have argued the possibilities back and forth, back and forth--which ought to be bracing for us as well, despite our glib dismissals: to remember what those possibilities actually can entail.

Pat Graham


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