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How Edwin Eisendrath Is Like a Navel Orange

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To the editors:

Yippee for Ben Joravsky and Reader editors. In their Feb. 16 article on Edwin Eisendrath, they show Eisendrath as a strong and ambitious contender for Sidney Yates' post in Congress--a post which Yates clearly has held for far too long.

Joravsky shows Eisendrath as a serious man with powerful feelings for his native Ninth Congressional District. Joravsky writes of Eisendrath's youthfully impetuous campaign against a man who seems rarely to stand up and fight for a cause or to bring his people together for a pow-wow. Joravsky depicts Eisendrath as the best man for the job, no doubt about it.

Then--just as I have in this essay--Joravsky gets to the second half of the story, buried on page 27, and turns the tables maybe 90 degrees. He finally gets to the meat of the matter, which is that Eisendrath's is a too-soon campaign founded on a solid barrage of political muckraking and ass-kissing. He further shows--again a bit late--that Yates is really one of the good guys and has repeatedly proven his part as an honest and reliable congressman over a 40-year period. It's no accident he has been re-elected so many times, we finally learn.

There is no question that this article was strongly slanted in Eisendrath's favor. Having, oh, just a tiny bit of experience with print media, I would say that Joravsky's article would have been rendered more vertical had he and the editors split it in half and run it as two opposing "legs" on the front page.

However, they didn't do that. So much for journalistic forethought and integrity and impartiality.

Now for another side of the story. I grew up in Lincoln Park about the same time as "Fast Eddie" Eisendrath, and I'm sure we chummed around with some common friends from time to time. I'm not unfamiliar with the Parker mentality of the time. Nor am I unfamiliar with the mentalities at Latin (Parker's arch-rival) or Lincoln or Disney or a few other schools in the district, all of which I attended at one time. With such an eclectic local background, I feel even more qualified than Eisendrath as a barometer for the views of young adults in this district.

I would begin by suggesting that most of the middle- and upper-class residents have enjoyed a comfortable upbringing in this district. The lower classes to the north and west have obviously survived as well. Our area is thriving. In fact, over an approximately 40-year period, the Ninth District has become one of the most coveted places to live in the entire world.

I won't ever say Sidney Yates is personally responsible for such a feat, but I won't say he had nothing to do with it. And as far as Eisendrath's precious "town meetings" are concerned, I don't see what purpose they would serve. Citizenship in this and other communities has and always will be grass-roots: Someone has a gripe, gets steamed enough to raise a stink about it, and (with or without government support) organizes a group of concerned citizens who do something to change things. I doubt any town meeting will change that tradition. I bet Sidney agrees.

True, I haven't heard much from Mr. Yates in my lifetime. But, then, I've never heard anything bad about him either. He is one of the few truly honest politicians I know. His political ideologies, whether he knows it or not, seem to stem from the ancient Chinese Taoist principle of "good" government: The less we do (under pressure and in haste), the more we get done (peacefully and methodically), and the happier we all are. In a Western context, Sidney Yates embodies this principle with a flair that few others could emulate.

"Fast Eddie," on the other hand, seems all too hot and bothered to get--somewhere. I would liken him to Dan Quayle. He has the ambition, but no experience. And, predictably, he too is "no Jack Kennedy." But then neither was Jack Kennedy. I would also liken him to the late Dan O'Brien, another young politico of this area. Too fast, Eddie. Just ask Danny Boy.

Finally, consider this analogy: A navel orange is rushed through life. Its skin is thick and beautiful but is mostly water and is therefore very weak. Its flavor is also mostly water and lacks character. It has no seed. A juice orange may be ugly and wind-scarred, but that is because it is given time to mature. Its thin skin is strong and its flavor delightful.

Peter Zelchenko

N. Lincoln

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