Updated: July 10, 2013 6:29AM
Ladies and gentlemen, friends and neighbors, the Lincoln Sideshow and Carnival is pleased to offer the public one of the greatest spectacles on earth.
I’m talking about a political creature that has confounded the greatest academic minds in the history of Illinois.
Strong-willed men have boldly strode into this tent behind me only to slither out on their bellies, whimpering in fear and confusion,
A few years ago, a lawyer feller with a wonderful head of black hair cast his eyes on what you are about to see and turned gray.
He was last seen babbling lines from a Rudyard Kipling poem as FBI agents hauled him away in handcuffs.
“Madigan!” the raving madman cried out over and over again. “It was Madigan all the time!”
Yes, that is one of his names, although he has been called many others. He has been referred to as the Velvet Hammer by some and is inscrutable to all.
It has been said that he lives vicariously through himself. When it rains in Springfield, it’s because he’s thinking something sad. His business card only says, “I’ll call you.”
No, young man, he’s not a character in some beer commercial.
No advertising executive in the world could conjure up a creature as powerful, as confounding as Madigan the Magnificent.
He knows all, sees all and yet does not speak. Sly newspaper reporters from Chicago tried to get him to reveal his secrets but to no avail.
What’s that you say, son? You’re wondering if your school is going to stay open?
Well, if you want a real education, just pay your money and step inside the tent and gander at the man who took control of an entire state without firing a shot. You won’t learn how to do that in any classroom.
How does he do it? What secret powers does he possess? What is next?
These questions have gone unanswered through the decades and yet his legend grows.
You sir, with the holes in your jeans and blue-collar shirt. For just a few dollars you can lay your eyes on one of the great mysteries of the political universe.
You say you already gave at the office? I see. You’re talking about that income tax increase masterminded by Madigan.
What’s that little woman? You’re paying a higher property tax on your home.
Now, now, people, settle down.
One of the many incredible powers of Madigan the Magnificent is that he can not only make money vanish but make people forget it was there in the first place.
It’s a fact, billions and billions of dollars simply disappeared in Illinois, and no one asks, “What happened?” No one points the finger of blame at Madigan.
In fact, defying the laws of logic, the masses instead claim that school teachers and government clerks are responsible. Their salaries are too great. Their pensions too costly.
How could the multitudes ignore missing billions and accuse people who never controlled a single penny in the state’s coffers?
I give you Madigan the Mysterious, who needs neither sword nor shield to defeat his enemies. He simply does nothing.
It is said by wiser men than myself that he does nothing to help his daughter, who means everything to him.
By doing nothing, the blame for all the state’s failures fall not on Madigan but those who call for action to do something.
By calling for action and getting nothing done, they look inept and foolish. Madigan, thus, it is said, displays his genius.
And yet, when he does something, such as raise the income tax, his foes claim that, too, is to help his daughter become governor.
A pension bill that passes the House to cut the state’s deep debt is viewed as setting the stage for his daughter’s political ascendancy,
When the bill ultimately fails, it is said that he intended to do nothing all along to help his daughter.
And the people who say such things, who are reduced to uttering nonsensical phrases, never seem to realize how idiotic they sound.
Hannibal Lecter may have talked a fellow prison inmate to swallow his own tongue, but Michael Madigan causes political opponents to choke on their words.
Those who have studied him for decades say they don’t know him at all. Those who don’t know him at all call him “brilliant.”
The frightened villagers often curse him, yet eagerly support his minions at the polls.
There are claims that he has legions of flying monkeys who drop pamphlets from the sky during elections.
But that doesn’t explain why the neighbor who claims one day he will never vote for a Democrat turns around and does it the next.
We are amid an information explosion, where the computer and the Internet offer insights about corners of the world that most of us have never visited.
Yet, here in Illinois, in our own back yard, we have one of the greatest riddles ever encountered.
Before the technology revolution, centuries ago, carnivals featured a circus geek who would bite the heads off of live chickens.
That, ladies and gentleman, is nothing compared to what I offer you today.
No refunds for those who simply see an aging Irishman. Your lack of imagination isn’t my fault.