Obama-helping Washington Post reporter Krissah Thompson was at it again Friday, nudging the nation’s capital to the news that the Obamas will not be returning to Chicago in their post-presidential lives.
Her story was headlined “A long Windy City goodbye?” and illustrated by two large photographs – up top, a photo of the “3,000-pound granite marker” and plaque that celebrates the location of the Obamas’ first kiss, and below, a large mural with a six-foot painting of Barack Obama’s head in the Rogers Park neighborhood.
In a tag-team exercise of Post Obama-boosters, Thompson turned to former Post reporter Peter Slevin:
The Obamas have begun to tell friends that they plan to make the Big Apple their home, said Peter Slevin, author of Michelle Obama: A Life and a Chicago resident.
“They’ve probably outgrown Chicago socially and professionally,” said Slevin, who interviewed many of the family’s associates. “Chicago can’t hold them.”
In other words, the Post reporters see their task as making sure Chicagoans (and Flyover Country folks in general) don’t feel dismissed by the Obamas. They offer a long quote from Obama saying he became a man in Chicago in their video announcing the selection of Chicago for Obama’s presidential library.
Thompson says Barack and Michelle will follow an “activist” model (think Clintons) and not a “reserved” model (Bushes). They “may keep a Chicago address,” as if that’s significant. Then Thompson turned to experts for more goo about the Obamas’ important elevation of black Chicago:
“Barack Obama’s embrace of Chicago and Michelle Obama’s pride in the South Side of Chicago has planted them firmly in the city’s history and their legacy will continue for generations,” [professor Michelle] Chatelain said in an e-mail. “I think they provided an education to the nation about the richness of the South Side of Chicago, despite its many challenges, and they also shed light on a black, upwardly mobile population that is invisible to many Americans, but has long shaped the city. No matter where their mailing address is, they will have a global impact and the very best of what they have to offer is rooted in Chicago.”
Timuel Black, a longtime Hyde Park resident who was an early supporter of Barack Obama’s political career, also says Chicago’s place in the Obama story is secure. Black, who is 96, helped introduce Obama to ministers in the area when the young man was establishing himself as a community leader. A retired community activist and advocate of Hyde Park-Kenwood, Black has a hard time believing the Obamas will not come back.
“The history of the Obamas in Hyde Park is a permanent kind of thing, and a reminder that in this South Side community there were always opportunities for aspiring young people as the Obamas were and enough support to encourage them,” Black said. “When [the Obamas] come home to visit, they’ll come here.”