Donald Trump came to Chicago earlier this week and, in full character, got the citizenry there riled up.
Although he's got a tall building — a combination hotel and condo property — along the famous Chicago River, he has used the city as a punching bag during his presidency, claiming that the place is more dangerous than Afghanistan.
He was at his hyperbolic best during a speech before a police chiefs' convention in the city's McCormick Place, accusing the city of being an embarrassment to the nation because it doesn't do anything to curb violence, and insulting Chief of Police Eddie Johnson because he boycotted Trump's talk.
Predictably, hundreds turned out to demonstrate against the president, some comparing him to Hitler. But as one of the newspapers pointed out, he was cheered on by the chiefs at the convention and left town with about $4 million in campaign contributions, thanks to a high-roller gathering organized by a member of the mostly right-wing Ricketts family, owners of the Chicago Cubs.
I was curious how the two Chicago papers reacted to Trump's five hours in their city, his first visit since becoming president.
The Chicago Tribune's conservative editorial page downplayed the attack on the city, suggesting it was just Trump "yanking chains" as he's wont to do.
"Trump reviled the city he evidently loves to hate," the editorial said. "Johnson and (Mayor Lori) Lightfoot made known their distaste for the president. It added up to nothing."
The Sun-Times wasn't so understanding.
"Trump is at war with everything that's best about Chicago and our country — values like honesty, integrity, decency, compassion and a fair shake," the paper editorialized with the headline: "Donald Trump's dangerous stupidity — and a city that deserves better."
Columnists for both papers weighed in, too.
"Trump taunting Chicago top cop is easy," read a headline from Sun-Times veteran Lynn Sweet. "Fixing crime in the city is not."
"If anyone knows the cop who Trump says can fix crime in Chicago in a day, give me a call," she added, referring to the boast Trump made early in his presidency as he slammed former President Barack Obama for "doing nothing" to help end the shooting sprees in his hometown.
Well, guess what, Sweet added — Trump has been president since January of 2017 and "has not been able to stop the shooting in Chicago either."
Tribune columnist Dahleen Glanton said it was too bad that Trump was shielded from seeing the protesters line up outside Trump Tower, where he gathered with Ricketts' rich buddies to collect the cash.
"As he spoke to wealthy donors inside Trump Tower, people from the real America — a diverse society where everybody doesn’t look alike, speak the same language or practice the same religion — gathered across the Chicago River to have their say," Glanton wrote.
"This is what America really looks like," she continued. "It's not the monotonous red hat-wearing 'Make America Great Again' crowd that Trump would have us believe represents out nation."
The Sun-Times' Neil Steinberg noted that Trump doesn't know Chicago, but Chicago knows Trump, pointing out how voters in the city trounced him in 2016.
Meanwhile, the Tribune's Mary Schmich composed a lengthy poem to mark the visit.
It concluded thusly:
"Yes, Ricketts raised bazillions
That made up for all the snubs
So even though this town's a pit
I gotta say, 'Go Cubs!'
And never fear, Chicago,
I'll be back again one day
Until that time there's one last thing
I really have to say:
Ask not what your great country
Ought to do to help you live
But ask what you can do for me
And how much dough to give."
Dave Zweifel is editor emeritus of The Capital Times. email@example.com, 608-252-6410 and on Twitter @DaveZweifel.
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