Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Running for Office is Like Dope Exhibit A: Kathy Salvi

I often think of a guy who ran for secretary of state in the `60s, was flat broke and busted by the time he lost—heavily in debt and out of a job. He paid off his debt a little at a time, working at so-so legal jobs. In the Percy campaigns he served as driver for Percy’s mother who would play an accordion for senior citizens, responding to her Senator son’s cultivated eastern accent “mo-thah” (although he was raised in Rogers Park). He was not only a driver for the old lady but he was driven for the elusive goal of being a big shot. Anyhow, being both driver and driven paid off, some would say, by his being named a federal judge. I’ve known other people like him and I really doubt being gone so many nights to meetings pays off. Which leads me to ruminate about the epitaph on Hubert Humphrey’s tombstone: “Gone to another meeting.”

I was thinking about that epitaph when I lunched with Kathy Salvi the other day. She was my brightest student at Loyola, married Al and has six kids, some of them little. Here she is running for Congress. I told her as nicely as I could that I think she’s plumb loco: she shouldn’t short-change her kids. Would I have said this to her husband, Al? No because I am congenitally traditionalist: a mother should be home with her kids; gender roles are not switchable.

I knew she had it bad when Al ran for the U.S. Senate a few years ago. I had hoped that with a law degree, a flourishing legal business and civic and church activities she would slake off until at least the kids are raised: what’s wrong with a comely silver-haired candidate? Nope, long after a solid conservative jumps into the race she’s calling around purportedly to see if there’s any support for her husband. At the time there wasn’t much. Then she would ask: Any support for me? Take it from someone who worked for Congressmen and has known them for 50 years: it’s an awful job. Move your family to Washington and you see them for only a few nights a week then fly back to the district. Keep them in the district and when you’re back home you’re out on the hustings. It’s a rotten job for married men and fathers: a worse job for married women and mothers. I asked Melissa Bean, the incumbent Kathy is trying to dislodge, and a mother how she managed it. “Oh, fine!” she said with a distracted mother’s wistful tone. I gave up on her: she’s an addict.

Then there came a glimmering that Kathy could have it all. Jim Oberweis asked her to run with him for lieutenant governor. That means she can stay in the state and if elected would have a job that would be as easy or as time-consuming as she wanted to make it: the lieutenant governor doesn’t even preside over the Senate. She could take that job and make of it something of statewide significance. Nope: she turns it down. She’s one of a handful in the primary—including one who’s more adept on the issues than Kathy—and maybe with enough stamina she can get 45 percent of the vote so win the nomination. Her fellow church people are raising money for her, actively cultivating her addiction. It’s sick. Maybe the Haymarket Center people who treat all kinds of addictions ought to fashion a treatment for aspiring politicians.
It would start off with a talk on the Biblical injunction:”Put not your faith in princes.” Politicians being what they are, are bound to disappoint and political careers lead to frenetic aspirants acting like puppy dogs chasing their tails. No marriage can endure with the same solidity…and the key phrase is “with the same solidity”… with one partner—particularly the woman—burning with self-consuming ego. That’s egregiously politically incorrect but the truth. There’s a word for what her fellow church workers who have enlisted in this effort to elect her to Congress are: “enablers.”


  1. Tom Roeser's implications are that Kathy is running for her own personal gain. Aren't women raising children American citizens? Don't they deserve to be accurately represented in Congress as well as everybody else? It sounds like someone is a little insecure about broadening the role of women in politics.

  2. As Tom Roeser has previously noted, the Framers intended that those holding public office do it not as a permenent job, but as a temprary leadership assignment to fulfill the obligation of everyone to serve.

    I encourage Kathy, and any other woman, mother, man, father, to serve a term of two, get get the heck back to their life and quit slurping at the public trough.

  3. I'd rather see restrictions on pols becoming lobbyists than demand pols get out after a term or two. I'd rather see lobbyists leave their posts before gaining experience and developing contacts than see pols impose term limits on themselves.

    Off topic: will Peter Fitzgerald speak up for a GOP gubernatorial candidate?

  4. There is not a politician in the world who ran for office without the hope of personal gain. It is human nature. I am not saying that these politicians aren't helping people... they are just having their cake and eating it too... None the less, I don't favor term limits. If a person wants to run and people want them in office for 3,4,5,6,7,8 terms, good for them and their district. Coming from the Peoria area, I know how much Ray Lahood has done for the district. And he would not be doing it if he were limited to only 2 terms... and I could say the same thing about Bob Michel...

  5. Patrick D. McDonoughDecember 15, 2005 at 1:53 PM

    Dear tom, I met Kathy at your radio show when Frank Coconate was a guest. It was a very, very good show. I really wish Kathy the best as I think she considered you one of her mentors. Please call Frank Coconate so I can give you a DVD of the show. Tom your wife is a classy lady as is Kathy's mom. Kathy is a real jem to Chicagoland and loudly spoke out againt Mayor Daley's Dope for Corruption. Thank you again, Patrick "Deep Water" McDonough.