Raw footage from the 1981 documentary "Rostenkowski," a portrait of House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dan Rostenkowski, a powerful figure in Chicago (and national) politics. Election day, 1980. Rostenkowski is interviewed in his office. He shows us photographs of himself with Presidents Ford and Carter; he discusses his support for Richard M. Daley for State's Attorney for Illinois; describes his friendship with Presidents Ford and Johnson (he says that history will conclude that President Johnson was one of the greatest presidents); he tells a funny anecdote about how excited he was to be seen on stage with Presidents Truman and Johnson; and discusses his billboard advertising campaign.
00:01Copy video clip URL Tape begins with close-up of a photo of Rostenkowski and Jimmy Carter. Rostenkowski is going through the pictures in his office and giving little anecdotes explaining what was happening in each of the photos. The audio does not come in until around eleven seconds.
00:17Copy video clip URL Rostenkowski moves on to a picture of himself and Gerald Ford in the oval office. Ford was set to go on a trip to Poland and Rostenkowski provided him with a briefing beforehand. Rostenkowski then tells a little story about Jimmy Carter going to Poland and bringing with him a large bundle of Levi’s Jeans to make a good impression with the Polish.
01:23Copy video clip URL Rostenkowski points to a picture of himself and Jimmy Carter in Chicago before he had been elected President. Rostenkowski talks a little bit about his relationship with Jimmy Carter.
02:07Copy video clip URL Rostenkowski moves on to another picture of himself and Carter in Washington having lunch together. Rostenkowski seems to truly enjoy reminiscing about his personal photos.
03:02Copy video clip URL Rostenkowski talks a little bit about his association with Richard M. Daley and his support of Daley for State’s Attorney. He then goes on to talk about the democratic process and how grateful he is to those who become involved. “I cherish and have a great deal of respect for people that work in the democratic process. It’s not easy to humble yourself and knock on the door and ask so and so to come out and vote.” “If we don’t inspire people, young people to do these things, it just can’t be done on the media. I mean there has to be some flesh involved. There has to be some feeling involved, and it frightens me that the media has such a, the power of persuasion, you know, whether they’re right or wrong.” And with a heavy hand, emphasizing each word of the next phrase like it’s the most important claim he’ll make in the conversation, Rostenkowski says, “I just think that people, in order to protect this valuable treasure, voting, they have to become a part of it.” Rostenkowski goes on to talk about community spirit, neighborhood unity, and how he feels that we are losing a sense of camaraderie that he believes should be prevalent in all communities.
06:10Copy video clip URL Weinberg asks Rostenkowski to go through a few of his pictures with the various Presidents he has worked under. Rostenkowski gets a hold of a picture of himself and Gerald Ford playing golf. The Congressman then briefly mentions each President he has worked under through his years in Washington.
07:51Copy video clip URL Rostenkowski speaks fondly of former President Lyndon Baines Johnson. Rostenkowski reminisces about an instance in which he was flying on Air Force One with Johnson, recalling a conversation about turning John F. Kennedy’s dreams for America into reality. Rostenkowski also tells a cute story about being on television with both Harry S. Truman and Lyndon Johnson. The Congressman’s sincere passion for politics is evident throughout the conversation.
11:34Copy video clip URL Weinberg asks Rostenkowski about his advertising campaign and what he wants to accomplish through it. “I want people to identify with me. I want people to be able to say, ‘That’s my Congressman.’ And I want to solicit them. I want to mail to them. I want them to talk about me.” Weinberg makes the point that some of Rostenkowski’s campaign billboards look like or allude to the fact that the Congressman might not just be running for Congress. Rostenkowski responds with a confident smirk and says, “Oh I’m running for Congress.” He then begins to explain in a little more detail why he promotes himself in that way, but gets cut off by the tape ending.
14:09Copy video clip URL Tape ends.