Monday, February 05, 2007

Denyin' the Lyin' O'Briens

FIT often makes time for Irish sports, and sometimes for Irish saints—but rarely for Irish politics. However, in the city where a Daley has been mayor for what seems like forever, this tidbit seemed too good to pass up.

Back in 2002, Cook County judicial candidate Patrick Michael O'Brien seemed to be a shoe-in for office—until it turned out he was running against another man named O'Brien—and narrowly lost the election. Undaunted, he ran again in 2006 and was again on the verge of winning—when it was discovered that he had changed his name from Frederick S. Rhine.

"Hey, I didn't invent this crazy system!" Rhine cried while admitting he had chosen his new name to reflect Irish heritage in order to get elected. Indeed Rhine (does the "S" stand for "Swine?") did nothing new; Chicago election lore is rich with stories of those who "Irished Up" their names to improve their election chances. Some, like 1998 judicial candidates Edwin Korb (who borrowed his wife's name) and became Edward K. Flanagan, or Richard Joseph Owens (who took his mother's maiden name) and became Richard O'Connell Owens, were at least Irish-in-law. Others like Bonnie McGrath who didn't think her husband's name was Irish enough borrowed a friend's mother's maiden name and ran as Bonnie Fitzgerald McGrath.

"I've done nothing illegal!" declared the Bonnie Irish lass when she too was discovered. "In Cook County, Irish is in, and now my name sounds more Irish than ever!"

To combat the faux Irish, Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich recently signed a law that would force a candidate who changes their name within three years of an election to include the disclaimer "formerly known as" on the ballot. While this is an okay legal way to fight this pseudo-Galic tendency, FIT has some better ideas for those who wish to be Irish. Instead of changing your name, change your views to reflect the traditional Irish-Catholic values which include both pro-life and help-for-the-down-trodden stances. If a candidate can do that, he or she will be a politician that St. Patrick (who himself was born in England), not Edward Kennedy, would indeed be proud of.

1 comment :

JimAroo said...

Dear Gov. Blag O'Jevich, You can not suppress the innate human desire to be Irish (even Swedes want to be Irish). But here is a story for the gov.

One day in the early 1930s, my Grandmother, Nell O'Dea was walking at 51st and May when she met Mrs. O'Shea whom she hadnt seen in over a year. The stopped and chatted to get all the family news. Mrs O'Shea said: "tell me Mrs O'Dea how is your fine son Jim doing?" "Well, Mrs O'Shea, he got a Croatian"
"Mother of God, Mrs O'Dea, that's terroble! Tell me, what's a Croatian?"