I often think of a guy who ran for secretary of state in the `60s, was flat broke and busted by the time he lostheavily 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 Percys mother who would play an accordion for senior citizens, responding to her Senator sons 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. Ive 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 Humphreys 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 shes plumb loco: she shouldnt 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: whats wrong with a comely silver-haired candidate? Nope, long after a solid conservative jumps into the race shes calling around purportedly to see if theres any support for her husband. At the time there wasnt much. Then she would ask: Any support for me? Take it from someone who worked for Congressmen and has known them for 50 years: its 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 youre back home youre out on the hustings. Its 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 mothers wistful tone. I gave up on her: shes 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 doesnt even preside over the Senate. She could take that job and make of it something of statewide significance. Nope: she turns it down. Shes one of a handful in the primaryincluding one whos more adept on the issues than Kathyand 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. Its 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 partnerparticularly the womanburning with self-consuming ego. Thats egregiously politically incorrect but the truth. Theres a word for what her fellow church workers who have enlisted in this effort to elect her to Congress are: enablers.