Trump vs. Eddie Johnson—Whose Side Are the Cops on?

Trump vs. Eddie Johnson—Whose Side Are the Cops on?
President Donald Trump speaks as he concludes his campaign rally at American Airlines Arena in Dallas, Texas, Thursday, Oct. 17, 2019. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

In our previous visit, gentle readers, I discussed Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson’s decision to skip President Trump’s Monday speech to the International Association of Chiefs of Police. President Trump, Johnson said, did not reflect the values of the people of Chicago. From this we of course are intended to conclude that it is the president’s values that are askew, not those of the people of Chicago. I suggest it may be otherwise.

I have a great fondness for Chicago, having a been a frequent visitor for years until family obligations curtailed my travel. I have always believed Chicago to be the home of some of the greatest people in the world. But, for reasons never satisfactorily explained to me, those wonderful people have chosen to govern them the very worst of politicians, some significant number of whom at any given moment are facing criminal charges for corruption. To cite only the most recent example, state representative Luis Arroyo (a Democrat, if you’re wondering) was charged on Monday with offering a $2,500-a-month bribe to a state senator in an effort to secure the senator’s support on video-gaming legislation.

Sadly for Rep. Arroyo, the senator was cooperating with the FBI and wearing a wire. But this is Chicago, remember, so the state senator, identified by the Chicago Tribune as Terry Link (also a Democrat, if you’re wondering), wasn’t cooperating out of any sense of civic duty, but rather because he was trying to help himself with his own pending tax-fraud case. You can’t make this stuff up.

So what are the “Chicago values” Eddie Johnson finds so badly misaligned with President Trump’s? Chicago’s official motto is Urbs in horto, meaning “City in a garden,” but the late Tribune columnist Mike Royko often suggested what may be a more apt alternative: Ubi est mea? (Where is mine?) As exemplified by the above case, graft and corruption are so tightly woven into the political fabric of the city that they’re taken for granted. News of another alderman being hauled off in handcuffs raises no more alarm than that of the Cubs falling short in a pennant race. One simply comes to expect these things.

Another thing one comes to expect in Chicago is crime. The website informs us that as of this writing there have been 439 homicides in the city and 2,349 people shot, for an average of one and half killings and eight shootings per day. Are these the values Superintendent Johnson seeks to protect from President Trump’s influence?

As it happened, the president’s speech (video here, transcript here) was a fairly standard Trump performance, with the expected rhetorical jabs at Eddie Johnson. An excerpt:

And Eddie Johnson wants to talk about values? No. People like Johnson put criminals and illegal aliens before the citizens of Chicago. And those are his values. And, frankly, those values, to me, are a disgrace. I will never — (applause) — put the needs of illegal criminals before I put the needs of law-abiding citizens. It’s very simple to me. (Applause.)

Most of the president’s remarks were devoted to praising rank-and-file cops, some of whom he called to the stage to congratulate. If you weren’t Eddie Johnson or one of his lackeys, there wasn’t much to object to in the entire speech.

Like the police chiefs in every large city in America, Eddie Johnson is in the uncomfortable position of owing his continued employment to the leftist political establishment under which he serves while pretending its policies do not engender the crime he is supposed to be fighting. If Johnson were to condemn the feral packs of young, fatherless men responsible for most of Chicago’s crime, Mayor Lori Lightfoot would have his head on a spike the next day.

On the other hand, as a holdover from the Rahm Emanuel administration, Johnson serves as a buffer for Lightfoot. If she sacks him, she is forced to share blame when his successor fails to bring crime down. And let’s face it: Lightfoot would never even consider a real crime fighter for the job, so for the time being it’s better to stick with someone else’s patsy than appoint her own.

After the president’s speech Monday, Johnson felt compelled to hold his own press conference. Surrounded by his senior command staff, as unimpressive a group as can be found (but so diverse!), Johnson disingenuously accused Trump of demeaning the entire Chicago Police Department. “Today,” said Johnson, “the same police officers the president criticized for their inability to protect this city spent all day protecting him.”

What Johnson did not distinguish, but President Trump did, was the division between cops on the street and those who manage them. Unlike Johnson, the majority of Chicago’s cops were happy to have the president in town, as most rank-and-file cops are Trump supporters to one degree or another. Rare indeed is the cop who in November 2020 will cast his vote for whichever wizened geezer, drama queen, or ersatz Indian emerges from the Democratic primaries to challenge the president.

And now Eddie Johnson, his political sponsors, and like-minded people everywhere are awakening to what for them is the dreadful prospect of a Trump victory next year. If you thought the wailing and gnashing of teeth on the left that greeted the 2016 election returns was something to behold, you ain’t seen nothing yet.

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