In a column entitled “What Clout Is and Isn't,” which appeared in the
on June 7, 1973, Mike Royko tackled a definition of clout:
[W]hat clout is in Chicago is political influence, as exercised through patronage, fixing, money, favors, and other traditional City Hall methods.
The easiest way to explain clout is through examples of the way it might be used in conversation.
“Nah, I don't need a building permit—I got clout in City Hall.”
“Hey, Charlie, I see you made foreman. Who's clouting for you?”
“Lady, just tell your kid not to spit on the floor during trial and he'll get probation. I talked to my clout and he talked to the judge.”
“My tax bill this year is $1.50. Not bad for a three-flat, huh? I got clout in the assessor's office.”
“Ever since my clout died, they've been making me work a full eight hours. I've never worked an eight-hour week before.”
“My clout sent a letter to the mayor recommending me for a judgeship. Maybe I'll enroll in law school.”
Get the idea? Clout is used to circumvent the law, not to enforce it. It is used to bend rules, not follow them.