The Chicago Way: Remembering Dan Rostenkowski

As we watch the town hall protests and the Democrats demean those who attend and raise their voices as Nazi, swastika wearing, insurance funded, terrorists … I am reminded by the folks at CBS News …. we have seen this all before, and, a word of warning to Democrats. It did not end pretty.

This clip (H/T The Volokh Conspiracy) is from the CBS News archives. It shows an angry “mob”, terrorists if you will, of cane carrying seniors chasing the now infamous Dan Rostenkowski from his Chicago office.

The issue? You guessed it, Government run health care. Unreal. (Reporters Notebook: I love the line “Who are you?”, says Roste to the reporter. Remember that, should you ever ask a Congressman a question. And ignore it. They use it to intimidate and throw you off your game. I fell for it once when I worked in Boston, by a Republican. This reporter answers the question (mistake) giving Rostenkowski time to slip by.)


A bit on the former Democratic leader from Chicago. He became emblematic of the corruption and arrogance that had been bread into the Democratic Party over its decades of dominance. Investigated by (this is unbelievable) Eric Holder) and Justice, for his involvement in the House Post Office scandal (trading stamps for cash). From

Rostenkowski’s political career ended in 1994 after a two year investigation by the Justice Department. In a case led by future U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, Rostenkowski was indicted on corruption charges for his role in the House post office scandal. He was forced to step down from all Congressional leadership positions. In elections later that year, Rostenkowski lost his seat and retired from political life. Charges against Rostenkowski included keeping “ghost” employees on his payroll, using Congressional funds to buy gifts such as chairs and ashtrays for friends, and trading in officially purchased stamps for cash at the House post office[3

Rostenkowski did 15 months and, in truth, was made an example of by Justice. Not because Justice was nitpicking, but because they probably could have corralled the entire Capitol building. Chicago politics played a key roll in all of this. Rostenkowski came from the same machine that produced the current crowd in Washington. When Clinton pardoned Roste in 2000 Gerald Ford rode to Roste’s rescue making an almost laughable excuse, but then, this was Ford:

Former President Gerald Ford, whose lone pardon letter in all his ex-White House years was on behalf of Rostenkowski, told a biographer, “Danny’s problem was he played precisely under the rules of the city of Chicago. Now, those aren’t the same rules that any other place in the country lives by, but in Chicago they were totally legal, and Danny got a screwing”

What Rosty did was illegal, says Ford, but hey, that’s Chicago. Don’t blame the abuser … blame the spouse. It’s not a brave new world … just a replay of a very old and ugly chapter in politics.

Update: From the “You can’t make this crap up” department. Rostenskowski lost his seat in 1994 to Republican Mike Flanagan. Flanagan lost that seat two years later to …. drum roll please … Rod Blagojevich. Hey … you can take the Chicago politician out of politics … but the Chicago politics just keeps right on rolling.

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Jim Vicevich

Jim is a veteran broadcaster and conservative/libertarian blogger with more than 25 years experience in TV and radio. Jim's was the long-term host of The Jim Vicevich Show on WTIC 1080 in Hartford from 2004 through 2019. Prior to radio, Jim worked as a business and financial reporter for NBC30 - the NBC owned TV station in Hartford - and as business editor at WFSB-TV in Hartford for 14 years while earning six Emmy nominations and three Telly Awards.

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