Continuing my account of the tour of Chicago that my wife and I took for four hours on Friday:
We drove by the house in which Barack Obama was living when he was elected to the Senate and then to the presidency. It’s very near the University of Chicago, and is, by some distance, one of the nicest houses in the area. Multistory, unusually big yard, quite large. Our tour guide was rhapsodic about “Our President.” He invited us to take an “Obama tour” of the city, told us tales about the experiences of Mr. Obama’s barber with the great man, etc., etc. My (irreverent) unasked question was, How did somebody whose background was in community organizing and the state senate manage to get such an impressive mansion? Later, as we were driving through the Hyde Park neighborhood, our guide told us that it was the most diverse part of Chicago, and that Mitt Romney got virtually no votes there. Several of the other academics on the bus cooed their admiration of so wonderful a neighborhood — there is very little meaningful diversity among leading universities and colleges in America (one thinks of the late art critic Clement Greenberg’s description of certain intellectuals as “a herd of independent minds”) – but my wife asked just exactly wherein the neighborhood’s diversity was supposed to consist, if virtually everybody in it voted in lockstep for Barack Obama. The question obviously caught our guide somewhat by surprise, and he stammered a bit. So I helped him out: ”You meant,” I said, “that Hyde Park is ideologically monochrome but ethnically diverse.” ”Yeah,’ he responded. ”Ethnically diverse.”
Well, there’s still more to be reported from the Chicago tour. But I’ll have to return to that later. It’s getting late.
I spent most of today in the conference book display. Absolutely impoverishingly wonderful, as always. And then my wife and I attended an excellent evening session about the reliability of the New Testament. (I’ll report on that in more detail tomorrow, perhaps.) And we ended the evening with a good meal at The Italian Village on Monroe.
Posted from Chicago, Illinois.