03/27/2010 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Hangin With the Hynes Clan

According to Mayor Harold Washington, as seen and heard in the video footage Dan Hynes has dragged out of the vaults, Mayor Washington, who never met a sentence he didn't construct beautifully and with clarity, (no "intemperate outbursts," I don't think), Pat Quinn blew it as a senior government official. He was a bad manager.

Exit Pat Quinn, fired Harold Washington Revenue Director.

Enter Dan Hynes, would be Governor.

Dan Hynes's consistent gubernatorial campaign message, "Pat Quinn is a bad manager," the same point Mayor Washington made, is mild as political messages go. But it's hot-headed, as the strategy for its deployment has now unfolded.

He is using this message to attempt to drive African-American and white voters who admired Harold Washington into his column. Risky, at best.

True, Dan Hynes is "staying on message," as candidates are constantly disciplined to do in just these sorts of photo-finish political contests, but this way of doing so is really volatile.

Pat Quinn partisans/Mayor Washington acolytes have now cried "racism," either because--they've said--Dan Hynes used footage of Mayor Washington, and Mayor Washington isn't here to defend himself (as if he, Harold Washington, ever, needed defending about the meaning of what he said), or because of the (racist) sins of the (Dan's) father, Tom: Tom Hynes, the up-'til-when-he-wasn't, stalwart Chicago Democratic Party leader, who left the Democratic Party to run against its leader because he was a black man, Harold Washington.

But, here's the thing:

1) It is widely known among those in hearing distance of these comments that Mayor Washington never, ever uttered a single word unintentionally, and never, ever failed to consider, and then choose, carefully, the context in which he uttered those words. He took great pride in this gift of his.

Harold Washington's pointed criticism of Pat Quinn is on tape because he meant it to be on tape.

2) The sins of this father can't be fairly visited on this son; there's just no evidence for it.

Enter, again, Dan Hynes, would be Governor.

Mr. Hynes: In a time, and, most especially, in a place, Chicago, that has a beyond miserable history of race relations, which your father played no small part in fostering, and in a month when many voters, black and white, remember Dr. King, and what Dr. King had to do in Chicago to achieve any racial progress, here's the better message:

Stop sending four-color, oversized brochures saying that the solution to the state's budget crisis is taxing Botox treatments. Readers, I kid you not, this one hit my mailbox a couple days ago.

Start saying this: I understand that it was wrong, dead wrong, to wrap myself in the mantle of Harold Washington, when my own father repudiated Harold Washington and the equal justice he stood for.

Today, I repudiate what my father did: It was wrong, morally wrong. I know that, and I stand before you to say this: It is always time, whatever the consequences, to repudiate racist behavior, because racist behavior has no place in our world, none, whatsoever. So, while I love my father, I say to you he was wrong, very wrong to run against Harold Washington and racially divide this city.

Mr. Hynes: Time, past time, in fact, for you to stand up and be counted. Forget counting beans; start counting: Tell us, the voters, that the Hynes clan doesn't stick together on racial issues. Otherwise, we really, really have no reason to vote for you.