Well, that didn’t last long.

It was only, what, two months ago that blacks and whites were hugging, weeping, and singing “Kumbaya” as they gathered together in Grant Park to celebrate Barack Obama’s election victory.

Now they’re fighting over Roland Burris’s Senate appointment, of all things. I’m getting calls from black people saying, “It’s our seat!” and from white people saying, “How dare they say it’s their seat?!” I try to tell both sides that white, brown, black, or green, it really doesn’t matter who goes to the U.S. Senate–nobody who gets in would do anything to change our lives under Mayor Daley and Illinois House speaker Michael Madigan. It just goes to show you: the smaller the stakes, the more vicious the fight.

Don’t get me wrong: it’s not that I don’t appreciate a spirited political fight. I can even say a good thing or two about Council Wars, when a band of white aldermen led by Eddie Vrdolyak and Ed Burke ganged up against Mayor Harold Washington. It wasn’t pretty, but it’s as close as we’ve ever come to having a democracy in City Hall. 

Maybe this current squabble will revive our legacy as “Beirut on the Lake” and somehow convince the International Olympic Committee to give the 2016 games to someone else. Then Governor Blagojevich will have finally made a contribution to the state.