As Richard M. Daley walks out of his 5th floor office and ends his tenure as mayor of Chicago, the media will definitely look back at his legacy as a leader and a policy maker for the city. But we will also remember him as a colorful politician, with a very unorthodox speaking style.
Daley will always be portrayed as sort of a bumbling politician, due to his continued missteps in and around the English language. But through the years, Daley became a master manipulator of the media, deciding to answer questions without actually saying anything.
His relationship with the media was often times combative, but also jovial.
In the spirit of all those who have covered Mayor Richard M. Daley, I give you the top 10 sound bites of his career. This is a combination of audio collected by WBEZ reporters and producers and from the special collection online at UIC, courtesy of legendary reporter Bob Crawford.
Now, it is almost impossible to comb through every single piece of tape that Mayor Daley provided during his time in office. So I’m sure there are other clips I am missing. But these are the top 10 from the audio we had access to.
If you have a favorite clip or quote, please share in the comments.
10. ‘I’m not a mail clerk.’ This is a classic type of Daley sound bite. This was from February 1997, but you can pretty much insert “I’m not a ___” with many sound bites, because it’s a go to staple (I’m not the bellhop was a close 11th). He uses this when defending the criminal actions of city workers, friends and political associates:
9. ‘Mouse in my sandwich.’ There was a restaurant inspection issue in the news back in March of 1999. The health department shut down some businesses. His response was candid and hilarious:
8. ‘Are you smoking pot?’ In November 2010, the mayor was questioned on whether the story in the Sun-Times that day was true: Was the city going to privatize the 911 Center?
7. ‘What’s wrong with you people!?’ In November 2009, Daley took offense to a reporter’s question about the death of Michael Scott, the chairman of the Chicago Board of Education. This is an example of what happened when Daley didn’t like a question:
6. ‘Daley loves Florida.’ November 2000 was a very political month. This sound bite is another example of a Mayor Daley technique he used frequently when dealing with reporters. The reporter asked the mayor to weigh in on what he thought of Florida, in wake of the 2000 Bush/Gore election. He answers literally. Which makes him sound ignorant, but really he is just mocking the reporter and avoiding the question:
6. ‘Basic-ey, the foie gras ban sucks.’ This was a clip around the famed foie gras ban in City Council in 2006. Daley doesn’t like it and goes with the “government shouldn’t be in your life” argument, but takes it a step further.
In this clip, he also mutters his much overused version of the word basically:
5. ‘Daley doesn’t advise advisors’ A reporter asks a question about whether he would give ____ (insert family, friend, politician here) advice. He uses the word ‘advice’ eight times in 18 seconds:
4. ‘You get one shower’ Bob Crawford says this was one of the first controversial comments of his time as mayor. It was from August 1989. Daley was forced to apologize for suggesting that public housing residents take one shower per person per day (to deal with rising water costs). I don’t think he meant anything by it, but he did apologized and acknowledged (in later sound bites) that he would have to be more careful with his words around the press:
3. ‘I get scrutined every day!’ This is a combination of Daley botching language and taking a swipe at the media. I have no idea what this was about and when it was recorded. Best guess, 2002. But it is one of my favorites:
2. ‘Daley chokes up’ In March of 1992, Mayor Daley delivers a prepared statement on his son Patrick’s unsupervised party at the family’s Michigan summer home. A fight broke out and a teenager was severely hurt during a brawl. It was front page news for a few days and Daley had to respond. And he did with great emotion. It is one of the only times we heard Mayor Daley choke up in his time in office:
1. ‘What if I stuck this up your…up your…’ May 2010 I still think this sound bite is the best. Why? Because of the imagery associated, where Daley decides to mime-stab a reporter in the rear with a bayonet. This clip illustrated his consistent bullying of the local press corps, especially those who ask tough questions. It was also a classic moment in which the mayor’s sense of humor, mixed with his disdain for the media and general grabowskiness created a perfect storm.