There’s a scene in Cheech and Chong’s Still Smokin’, in which the duo are giving a press conference in Amsterdam. When a reporter asks why they’ve decided to make a movie, Cheech responds with a lordly “Because,” then laughs at his own wit.
It was funny then. It wasn’t so funny when Carol Moseley Braun told the press she wouldn’t release her tax returns because “I don’t want to.” Moseley Braun relented later in the day, but the fact that she thought she could get away with that answer is evidence she has not lost the sense of entitlement that was her undoing as a senator.
By all accounts, Moseley Braun was a responsible, progressive politician in the 1980s, when she was Harold Washington’s point woman in Springfield. But as soon as he was elected to the Senate, her inner diva became her outer diva, and it’s never gone back inside. She celebrated by disappearing to Africa for a month-long vacation. When Congress debated a bill to take away members’ free parking at D.C.-area airports, Moseley Braun famously asked, “When is this Congress-bashing going to stop?” Her volatile, demanding personality caused her to run through five chiefs of staff in six years. At a Moseley Braun fundraiser in 1998, I was struck by how stiff and terrified her junior staffers appeared.
So, a lot of senators have big egos. But Moseley Braun didn’t change after she was voted out. In late 2002, when Barack Obama was waiting for her to make a decision on another U.S. Senate run, “her basic attitude was that she had not made up her mind but obviously it is [her] prerogative to potentially run,” Obama would recall. Because, of course, it was her Senate seat, even though someone else was sitting in it at the time.
At least Moseley Braun was available to answer a question. That’s more than we’ve gotten from Rahm Emanuel lately. Emanuel, who learned to be a prince at New Trier Township High School, recently disappeared to Thailand on a family vacation -- in the middle of a mayoral campaign run during the most difficult economic times this city has seen in a generation. Emanuel has so much money -- he’s said to have raised $10 million so far -- and such a big lead in the polls that he can campaign whenever and wherever he damn well feels like. That’s why he’s been blowing off community forums and declining interviews with local TV stations, as opponent Gery Chico pointed out in a very funny video.
Now that Moseley Braun is the sole remaining black candidate, there’s a good chance these two egotists will meet in the run-off. They certainly deserve each other, but do we deserve their arrogance?