The fact that the Times is giving Chicago’s long-festering mess such prominent coverage this morning is a testament to how Detroit’s thunderous collapse has made all these sorts of previously over-the-horizon problems seem a lot closer and menacing. Also prominently featured in the article is the blue civil war simmering beneath the service: public unions are squaring off against Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who has threatened to increase retirement ages and freeze inflation adjustments to union benefit plans in order to help cushion the impact of those approaching mandatory increases in the city’s outlays.

The article’s best quote goes to another close Obama aide who’s running against Governor Pat Quinn in next year’s elections, William M. Daley: “Anyone who thinks that this is just a problem on paper, those are the same people who looked at Detroit 20 years ago and said, ‘Don’t worry about it, we can handle it.’” We’re glad to see that at least a couple of the cogs in Chicago’s long-ruling Democratic machine have awoken to the crisis at the city’s doorstep. Better late than never.

The one unspoken question: can Obama stand idly by if his hometown starts going down the tubes on his watch?

No bailouts.