A New Diagnosis For Dodgy Politicians: "Pritzker Syndrome"
Illinois governor's recent public appearances reveal further distortion between what he says and reality
In the 1950’s, a British doctor began to hear unusual stories from patients.
One man said his head felt twice its size yet its weight twice as small. A woman said she could touch a wall from a far distance yet worried her limbs would fall off if she tried.
This distorted reality would later be referred to as Todd’s Syndrome (named after Dr. John Todd, the doctor who first diagnosed the condition) and is also commonly called “Alice in Wonderland Syndrome” after the famous 19th century book that spawned several films.
As we roll into general election season in Illinois, a strong argument can be made the condition should be re-titled “Pritzker Syndrome.” That’s because the Illinois governor speaks like someone with a distorted sense of reality.
Crime and gun control were thrust back in the spotlight after the July 4th Highland Park murders.
At a speech that day near where the shootings take place, Pritzker said, “The President (Biden) agrees with me, the madness must stop.”
But the record doesn’t show the urgency the governor spoke of eight days ago.
According to a chart published on the Woodhouse newsletter citing CDC Wonder data, the rate of homicides by firearm increased from 2020 to 2021 and have jumped up at an alarming rate since Pritzker took office in 2019.
Another chart shows a two decade-plus span of deaths in Illinois due to homicides and suicides:
Pritzker never mentioned the increases in fatalities under his watch during his sham-admonish speech on July 4th.
He spoke in opaque terms about guns and how “it is devastating that a celebration of America was ripped apart by our uniquely American plague.” He talked of freedoms and blamed citizens for not upholding our American right to live free of gun violence.
No word uttered about his contribution to the runaway violence or failed policies by state and local leaders.
Pritzker also said this on July 4:
I’m furious. I’m furious that more innocent lives were taken by gun violence. I’m furious that their loved ones were forever broken by what took place today.
When the state sees a 61% increase in homicides-by-firearms since 2019, the anger he speaks of comes across as phony, bogus rhetoric from a politician who lives in an alternate universe far removed from what’s actually happening in the cities and towns in which he governs.
Sunday, Pritzker granted an interview with state media cable outlet CNN.
When asked about giving more outsized attention to the Highland Park shootings (he flew up that day in time make a speech) compared to when other similar incidents happen in other parts of the state, most notably Chicago, Pritzker dodged the question and again, spoke with blurred, muddied logic:
In fact, much of what we've done in our budget over the last six months for this current fiscal year is to put money into programs that serve Black and Brown communities throughout Chicago and the rest of the state, particularly communities where there has been a high degree of violence.
I have been to and spent time with the communities and families that have been affected by gun violence on the South Side of Chicago, West Side of Chicago
If Pritzker gave press conferences every time there was a shooting in a Chicago neighborhood, he wouldn’t have time to sign his monthly disaster declarations or proof-read speeches delivered on the DNC fundraising circuit.
But does any reason-minded person think if there’d been a mass shooting in Chatham or North Lawndale July 4th, he’d fire up Air Force Abe, drop in and spout the same platitudes ?
His “I’m mad as hell” speech plays much better with the Democratic electorate and strategists when the backdrop is once-idyllic-now-shattered North Shore suburb rather than endlessly-hopeless-bullet-infested South Side war zone.
During the CNN interview, Pritzker recited the usual talking points on gun legislation, about authorizing “Red Flag Laws” and calling for a national ban on assault weapons.
(On June 25, President Biden signed the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act into law. Among the several things included in the bill is a sizable economic incentive for states that enact ‘Red Flag Laws’ and related regulatory measures. No coincidence Pritzker would be lobbying for such legislation when there’s federal money to be had.)
A nationwide ban on assault weapons will never happen in this country. But in Pritzker’s misshaped messaging, bombast and bravado matter over substance and record.
We are in the middle of an even-numbered calendar year. This means campaigns and fundraisers and speeches and dinners and large servings of silly rubbish (h/t to Monty Python).
It’s not uncommon for politicians desperate to hold onto their jobs to be guilty of a bit of puffery.
But Pritzker subsists in his own bloated, unaffected universe; a Wonderland of Claptrap Hooey, a double dutch serving of malarkey.
His distorted reality could be diagnosed as equal to that of the fictional Alice. I think it’s more appropriate to create a new affliction.
Call it Pritzker Syndrome.
Identified only in the intentionally oblivious.
For story ideas, article comments/feedback, media inquiries and more, drop note to email@example.com, or @jonjkerr on Twitter.