Tuesday, June 24, 2008
I didn't have a great seat, and it was raining up until the National Anthem, but unlike even my NU friends I had the opportunity to go to the 150th commencement. Big stuff. Big enough for the mayor of the great city of Chicago, Richard M. Daley.
Now, I'm not the biggest fan of Mr. Daley. A shoe-in for mayor because of Daley version 1, corrupt to the core, with the ugliest accent this side of Lake Michigan. When I talked to a several NU seniors a few weeks ago, the vast majority were against Daley being the commencement speaker. For one, he isn't an alumnus. Mr. Daley, the quintessential C-student from DePaul, did not live up to suburban standards. Also, Daley's the mayor of CHICAGO, not the little suburb of Evanston, Illinois. However much Northwestern plays up its Chicago-ness to undergraduates, few students venture often into the great unknown that is The Windy City, aside from the few natives that go there. Daley's also known for being a horrid public speaker, and disconnected with academia as a whole.
But to much surprise, Daley was actually... interesting. He spoke well, aside from minor screw-ups. Hooray for speechwriters, who could make even the uneloquent Daley seem like a near-Obama (not really) !
Daley's speech could be summed up in two parts: 1. the Olympic bid, 2. Public service. The first was dull. Yes, we all want the Olympics. Yes, Chicago is amazing. Enough! We'll see come Copenhagen 2009. Besides, all this emphasis on Chicago being a "green" city makes me want to puke. Chicago doesn't even have a recycling program. However, Daley's discussion on public service was remarkably interesting. It's always a good idea to knock sense into preppy suburbanites from Winnetka and Des Plaines by shouting (not literally), "hey, there's a whole other world out there, and if this $200,000 education isn't to help the rest of us and save the planet, then by god, for what reason were you put on this earth?" Be ashamed, econ majors. Be very ashamed.
It did make me feel a little guilty. I'm an English major, and don't really plan to use my command of Strunk and White's Elements of Style or my appreciation of George Eliot to help the underprivileged. But then again, I'm poor. So it's ok. Right? Right.