SPRINGFIELD — Could it be that billionaire J.B. Pritzker, scion of the Hyatt hotel fortune, looks down his nose at Emil Jones, a man who rose from being a Chicago sewer inspector to president of the Illinois Senate?
It sure looks that way.
The Chicago Tribune recently released an FBI recording of a wiretapped conversation between then-Gov. Rod Blagojevich and Pritzker.
Pritzker is not only the current front-runner for the Democratic nomination but also a first-class snob.
Shortly after Barack Obama was elected president, Blagojevich was talking to Pritzker about who to appoint to fill the U.S. Senate seat Obama was vacating.
Two of the names that came up were Secretary of State Jesse White and Jones.
Here is an excerpt of the conversation:
“Pritkzer: I’m sure you, I’m sure you thought of this one, but: Jesse White. Even though I know you guys aren’t like, you know, bosom buddies or anything. It covers you on the African American thing.
“Pritzker: He’s totally, he’s totally, you know … he’s Senate material in a way that Emil Jones isn’t, if I may say.
“Pritzker: I mean, you know, he’s just, I don’t know how to say it exactly. But Emil’s a little more crass.
So, what does this hoity-toity Pritzker mean by “crass”?
Webster’s dictionary says crass means: “lacking sensitivity, refinement, or intelligence.”
I’ve interviewed Jones many times over the years. I’ve always found him to be quite intelligent. And I’ve seen him nearly in tears talking about a family member who struggled after returning from Vietnam. He is also a sensitive person.
So, could it be that Pritzker thinks Jones lacks refinement? It would appear so.
Webster’s defines refinement as: “cultured elegance in behavior or manner.”
If “cultured elegance” was required of Illinois politicians, Abraham Lincoln would never have been president.
While I often don’t agree with Jones on many issues, I’ve always admired the political pluck he exhibited in his rise in politics. It may surprise Pritzker, but some folks aren’t born at the top.
Some, like Jones, have had to fight their way there.
Of course, Pritzker will tell you, he had no idea that anyone but Blagojevich would hear his words.
But one definition of character is “what you say or do when you think no one else is paying attention.”
Forgive the crassness, J.B., but you, sir, lack character.
Note to readers: Scott Reeder is a veteran statehouse journalist. He works as a freelance reporter in the Springfield area.