Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Diss and Data: Random Thoughts While Shaving

Sunday’s Political Shootout on WLS-AM (890) was extraordinarily good if I say so myself due to the contributions of the two guests—Steve Rauschenberger, a Republican candidate for Lieutenant Governor and Jeff Berkowitz, the savvy recovering lawyer and political analyst. I tried to hold Jeff to three questions which he narrowly missed adhering to. He has come into his own with his weekly show on CAN-TV and his blog. I don’t know if any major TV station is in the market for a political reporter but they couldn’t do better than trying to hire him away from his lawyer recruitment firm. His tenacity and political sophistication is a major plus for any TV gig. He reminds me of the very early Mike Wallace, pre-“60 Minutes” and post-“The Chez Show with Mike Wallace and Buff Cobb” (for those of you old enough to remember this WGN feature in the `50s. Wallace had a show called “Nightline” where he would go one-on-one with an interviewee. I think Berkowitz is that good…

Speaker Mike Madigan is doing a whale of a good job protecting and defending Rod Blagojevich and the natural answer to the question “why” is wrong. The natural answer is that the Speaker is trying to keep Blagojevich on his feet until Madigan’s spoiled brat daughter, Lisa, can succeed the governor, whether she runs when he retires or against a Republican in his/her second term. But astute Dems downstate (several in fact) tell me that the real reason is self-evident and is passed over by those in search of deeper meaning. Madigan wants to continue as Speaker and the unpopularity of Blagojevich downstate worries him that he may lose seats down there and with it the Speakership. In any event, the thought that Blagojevich would have difficulty assuaging the Speaker in campaign time has been wrong for a long time…

Some Republican candidates for governor are getting bitchy—and I don’t mean the female candidate. Judy Baar Topinka stays away from any attacks whatsoever on her GOP opponents but not so some of her GOP competitors forgetting (if they ever cared) that after primary day they—if they win—they will have to pick up the marbles and urge unity. For one thing, whomever is doing the Topinka Tattler should can it, desist: it’s bitterly derisive and divisive, not funny and sophomoric. Bill Brady can be better served by stowing the line—used in two debates, now—that Jim Oberweis’ solution to immigration is rounding all the illegals up by helicopter and stashing them in Soldier Field. That’s not what Oberweis said in an earlier commercial that he has already disowned. Ron Gidwitz’s pronouncements are tough but fair. This is not a run for president of the junior class but supposedly a convergence of adults…

That the Sun-Times should get a Pulitzer is not due to its local columnists who try feebly to play the hip-flip commentators (Falsani, Roeper, Steinberg and Pickett come to mind) but the straight news staff which has done an outstanding job of covering Chicago. I think first and foremost of Fran Spielman who seems to write a third of the newspaper every day from City Hall—stuff that is pointed, journalistically sharp and thoroughly mature and probing. Abdon Pallasch who covers the courts is superb—and of course the brightest orb of the Bright One is located on the Business Page run by Dan Miller who has been a journalist in two cities for a thousand years. Sports (about which I’m far from expert) is superb as well. Lynn Sweet does a fine job covering Democratic news for what is certainly an unannounced but purposefully partisan Democratic newspaper. I’ll have more to say about certain straight news stars who are under-pushed by their newspaper later…

Edwin Eisendrath is running like a dry creek—this not because he isn’t saying interesting things but because he has been unwilling—or his rich surrogates are unwilling—to back his candidacy with cash. The feeble attempts at TV commercials aren’t working and if he thinks he can substitute for money his frequent appearances around the state, Dem insiders tell me, he ought to save his energy. Without put-up he is nearing the stage when his campaign will be hooted out of town as ridiculous…

Rep. Mark Kirk has long been seen as a comer. Indeed, he should be thought of as first tier to take on Sen. Dick Durbin who’s ripe for the picking after casting opprobrium on the troops in Iraq and who’s been desperately trying to salvage himself. Social conservatives like me would prefer one of our number rather than Kirk—but the need to replace Durbin is so crucial in this blue state, that accommodation should be made for reality. Kirk would certainly have voted for Alito and his strong positives would more than make up for the few social failings he has…

But don’t carry broad-mindedness too far. Ms. Topinka’s quick ratification of Gov. Blagojevich’s stand on over-the-counter birth control pills shows that she has determined to wipe clean most thoughts of rapprochement if she wins the primary—which, increasingly, she is unlikely to do given her bad performance reviews in debate…

Mainstream media tell us that Sen. Barack Obama is significant because he is a thoughtful liberal, able to take independent positions and not run with the Dick Durbin predictables. He is posed for these magazine cover stories looking moodily out the window, contemplating Big Thoughts in the context of his “the road not taken” image. After all, wasn’t it Obama who said the other day that the attempt to filibuster Sam Alito was foolhardy, wouldn’t work etc.? But then the left-wing lobby hit the anterooms of the Capitol: Ralph Neas and Nan Aron and Sen. Kennedy launched his stentorian shouter on the Senate floor. David Axelrod said that if he wants a shot on the national ticket, he’d better conform. Upshot: Obama voted against cloture and in favor of the filibuster. We knew Dick Durbin and Axelrod could count on you, Barack.

The Fat Face Charade: Part II

The days when I was mistaken for the late Larry O’Brien and the now largely out-of-prominence Henry Kissinger are over. But not long ago when, in the company of others, I was getting into my overcoat at Smith and Wolinsky’s steak house here where, sadly I did not order the one-bean salad for dinner, a couple watched me trying to button my coat and the guy said, “We enjoyed your straight-from-the-shoulder remarks on C-SPAN.” I always sell out at times like that—and I said, “thank you.” She said, “we miss you greatly and Bush 41 as well.” That explained it. They thought I was Larry Eagleburger who succeeded Jim Baker as secretary of state [1992-93] when Baker quit to manage the Bush campaign. Discouraging thought: I saw Eagleburger myself on that C-SPAN program, so fat he almost tumbled off the couch with wattles and pouches drooping far over his collar. Well, take fame when you can find it.

“Thank you so much,” I said. “We must…” and they came closer to hear my words, “…hang in there!”

“How true!” they said as I swept out the revolving door.

And your comments about being mistaken for greatness—or anything else you wish to note.

It’s Not the Same Old Rahm I Knew (From the `80s)

Way back in the 1980s I first met Rahm Emanuel when, as a friend of Mark Hornung’s (then editorial page editor of the Sun-Times) he was striving to be a player on talk radio. Then the only talk radio panel worth thinking about was Bruce DuMont’s on public radio. Rahm wanted to get on it. Since I knew Bruce, Rahm would call me at Quaker Oats every day and say: “Tommeee! Can you put in a good word for me with Bruce?” Distracted by the weight of serious public policy issues involving oatmeal, I promised but soon forgot. The next morning: “Tommmee! Did you--?” l said no but I will.

So one day I did and Bruce kindly invited him on. None of this really appreciated how much this meant to Rahm. He wasn’t too bad a guest on a panel that had liberals and conservatives. But I remember his mantra in those days. Reagan was president and had made national security a major issue vis-à-vis the Cold War. Democrats had been the party of nuclear freeze and disarmament since George McGovern. Rahm, a very bright upwardly mobile job aspirant, stressed how his party should re-take the center with a strong national security policy. Well, it didn’t thanks to Mondale and Dukakis. All this while, Rahm was stressing that his party was woefully weak on a central issue of concern to Americans. One night in despair he said that the only way he would get inside the White House would be to rent a tuxedo and pose as a waiter, a rather locally famous observation at the time. Rahm’s steadfast declarations in behalf of a strong national security policy was bolstered by his undeniably forthright willingness to volunteer as a lay worker in Israel and serve in military hospitals during Iraq War I. That decision won applause from all of us, including his detractors.

When he got to the White House, having been a successful fund-raiser for Bill Clinton, I imagined he kept his original views on national security intact. After Clinton, he became a multi-millionaire, having parleyed his friendship with Bob Rubin into investment banking of which he knew nothing—and then used his riches to help fund his own congressional campaign. Close investment banking ties led him to a berth on Ways and Means and fund-raising expertise to the chairmanship of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. Not bad for a decade or so of work. And his finding Tammy Duckworth goes to his credit, too. This severely wounded Iraq War helicopter pilot can, with Rahm’s direction, just manage to get elected. If she doesn’t (and it looks like rather than lying down Duckworth’s dovish primary opponents won’t, touting the Nancy Pelosi line) it won’t be Rahm’s fault. But he has been taking flak from the Democratic party left for stepping into the primary in the 8th and picking Duckworth.

Maybe his defending himself from flak from the left explains the story in yesterday’s Trib which showed Rahm embarrassed at a DCCC fund-raising breakfast in Columbus, Ohio when he was called on the mat by fellow Democrats for declaring that national security would not be an issue in 2006. Not an issue in 2006? With Karl Rove declaring that Republicans will be running on this issue? With a galaxy of GOP presidentialwanna-be’s tuning up on defense for 2008? And every halfway savvy pundit saying that this is the only way Republicans can beat the odds? And Rahm is taking the issue off the table for Democrats when he will be judged on how he does in House races in 2006?

What happened to the old Rahm Emanuel? Either he’s mad (no likelihood) or trying to mute his hawk image and cozy up to Nancy Pelosi, the super-dove for now. But if his candidates lose, count on him to do a u-turn after 2006 and declare her strategy lost the Dems their chance to re-gain the House and lead a battle against her for minority leader. That’s the Rahm I know, the one who would call me up and begin purringly, “Tommeeee!”

Now your comments about Rahm.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

How U.S. Catholicism Has Come to This Un-Lovely Pass

Saturday I agreed with Justice Anne Burke in a controversy with Francis Cardinal George and I don’t mean to revisit that particular topic (agreeing with Justice Burke once in my life will be, I hope, sufficient) but I do mean to discuss with you how my Church came to this desperate pass. There are several points I’d like to make before getting to what I think is the real reason.

First, the idea that the celibate priesthood is responsible for priests going off the reservation is a concept fondly held by some—but it is not credible. In the regular world, those predators who have defiled children have been totally non-celibate. They have been sometimes heterosexual, sometimes homosexual, sometimes married men, sometimes gym coaches: the celibacy rule has had nothing to do with it. Nor does promiscuity center on homosexuals as I hope we all have learned (from the story of David bedding Bathsheba as outlined in the Jewish bible of today’s Mass). Take a look at Protestant ministers including Jimmy Swaggert and Jim Bakker—married men who had affairs—and you get the idea.

Second, the priesthood is not threatened by scarcity of applicants. One of the really superb prelates in the U.S., Archbishop Eldon Curtis of Oklahoma City has said it correctly: there is no scarcity of qualified men for the priesthood; the idea of a scarcity is artificial and contrived. What has happened is that radical liberalism has infiltrated the seminaries bringing with it a defiance of the Church’s traditional teachings on sexual morality, a defiance that captured many of the seminary professors and discouraged young men of traditional moral stance from applying or being accepted: hence the fictional “scarcity.” The radical permissiveness began as an outgrowth of the so-called but seriously distorted “spirit of Vatican II.” Permissiveness and promiscuity was nowhere to be found in Vatican II, its documents or deliberations. The Council had the bad fortune to be held precisely at the time that the West was undergoing convulsions in mores: radical feminism, radical upheavals in sexual behavior, radical challenges of authority spurred by all kinds of forces.

Third, I do not share the belief of some of my well-meaning conservative Catholic friends that child abuse is simply and solely homosexuality in the priesthood—for the simple reason as any law enforcement official can tell you (and as I observed as a journalist) that predatory sexual behavior occurs in both straight and gay categories. It is true, however, that some abuses reported as against children were against young adults who were attractive to homosexual priests. But to argue this point is to evade the real cause. It’s not gay or straight but radical defiance of sexual mores that has defiled some priests.

That defiance has come as the spillover from what the Catholic writer and John Paul biographer George Weigel calls the “Truce of 1968.” That was the decision not to hold dissenting theologians and priests accountable for rejecting the 1968 encyclical on human sexuality, “Humanae Vitae” [“On Human Life”] by Paul VI. When then Patrick Cardinal O’Boyle, archbishop of Washington, D. C. sought to discipline those who had openly rejected the teaching of the encyclical and sought to force a retraction from the dissidents, he took his case all the way to Rome where his strategy was rejected by the self-same Paul VI, who feared a schism would occur. That decision by Paul was a well-meaning but disastrous one which emboldened the dissidents. A good article on this is by Father Richard John Neuhaus, my own favorite commentator (a Catholic convert from Lutheran ministry where as a pastor he marched with Martin Luther King). He is now this nation’s most eloquent spokesman for authentic Catholicism, in my view. His publication is “First Things” published in New York. He describes the dissent and dissenters very well.

Not mentioned by Father Neuhaus, but nevertheless among the dissidents were those very familiar to us Chicago Catholics. None other than Patrick and Patty Crowley, the city’s most prominent Catholic couple, leaders of the Christian Family Movement who had sought to sway the Pope’s writing of “Humanae Vitae” and were sorely disappointed. They had gone across the country on an insufferably arrogant mission, seeking to put old-style Irish political pressure on the Pope and assuring their audiences that they would be successful. Well, they were not. Call it the work of the Holy Spirit.

Their massive egos were damaged, particularly, may I say, Patty Crowley’s who saw herself, the mother of six children, as the patroness of exploited women who demanded church acceptance of birth control. A wealthy woman, heiress to the multi-million dollar O’Brien paint fortune, she was assuredly not sentenced to lifelong poverty because of her large family. But hearing her on the stump, you could believe she was. She became an inflammatory weapon (she died just weeks ago coldly unrepentant for her stand and in her nineties and I’m not sure she died Catholic or not). The dissent went through the trendy theologians to the popularizers centering here with none other than Father Andrew Greeley, a brilliant man, to whom an unpublished thought has never occurred (and now you know the crux of my disagreement with Greeley whom I first met when we were both 13). We in the Church are living with the consequences of Paul’s failure to enforce his encyclical among the faithful—and a widespread conflagration of dissent that came from his worry about schism. Studying him you understand well that the doctrine of infallibility applied to faith and morals when propagated “ex cathedra” (“from the chair”) does not apply to tactics. Now, what we have is worse than schism where dissenters leave is schism within the ranks, far worse for the dissenters cause scandal to the faithful.

Fourth, again, homosexuality as such does not dominate the entire picture in my view but permissiveness that spreads lawlessness embracing indecency in heterosexual and homosexual attitudes does . Just as the `60s opened wide the doors for the exotic experimentalism of sexual congress, the Church suffers through lamentable relaxation of discipline in its bishopric and seminaries opening the doors to promiscuity. Take a look at how many priests take on girl friends and leave to marry as well as priests who entered through inducement by the gay culture. I would refer you to two books, the first by a good friend, Dr. James Hitchcock, professor at St. Louis University, who wrote a prescient view of the problem many years ago, “Catholicism and Modernity.” A second book is “Goodbye, Good Men,” by Michael Rose who explores the disintegration of the seminaries, the gradual take-over by those who pooh-pooh piety which led to the takeover of some by a gay subculture. Granted now that heterosexuals have been leaving and others disdain to join the priesthood, there’s a temporary influx of homosexuals.

Fifth, here’s where homosexuality is front and center in the picture. Now that the sexual revolution blew off the seminary doors allowing a good many dissenters to enter, the battle is being waged over the Vatican’s November 4, 2005 instruction on homosexuality and the priesthood. Get this dissent from what used to be a liberal but orthodox Catholic publication with a venerable history: Commonweal. An editorial recently said, “Whether it is birth control, homosexuality or the range of sexual contact permitted between spouses, church teaching offers little that speaks to the experience of the vast majority of faithful Catholics who now insist that they know something about sexual morality that the Church’s leadership needs to learn.” What does that tell you? Experience should be followed, not rigid morals.

I would say this is right from the gospel of Father Greeley (a pollster who tells us how many Catholics disagree with the teachings of the Church). But Greeley is not the originator of such dissent but propagandist, insisting his columns shows him in clerical garb, allowing him to represent by implication a Church for whose teachings he has such disdain, a Church he will not leave because his novels exploiting it have made him many times a millionaire. Commonweal continues: “There is hardly a Catholic alive who doesn’t have a colleague, a neighbor, a friend, a relative or a child who is gay. Like `Humanae Vitae,’ barring homosexuals from the priesthood would force many Catholics, both straight and gay, into internal or outright exile from the Church.”

Answer: If that isn’t relativist, situational morality, nothing is. It argues: change, wink at homosexuality and other excesses because some Catholics will leave. Father Thomas Reese, S.J., the exiled editor of “America,” the Jesuit publication (rightly canned as virtually Benedict’s first act) asks questions that are duplicitous, easily answered to anyone but Reese: what does it mean to “practice homosexuality?” What does it mean to have “deep-seated homosexual tendencies?” Com’on, Reese, what are you giving us? It’s dissimulation by one who challenges the historic magisterial teaching of the church—one who stays around to see if he can change the Church. Only to a person with no absolutes do Reese’s questions have relevance. The age-old mission of the Church is to define sin, get sinners to repent and reform and not entertain what the meaning of “is” is, Father Reese. If the Jesuits are what they were, you’d know the answer.

Sixth, reading “Commonweal,” Greeley and others of their ilk it strikes you that you have read it before. Of course, you have! It’s standard operating liberalism—in essence, relativism that is purveyed in other conversations, social, political, cultural, in the country. Significantly it is relativism that Benedict XVI said he was determined to work against in his pontificate. The subhead of Michael Rose’s book “Goodbye, Good Men” is: “How liberals brought corruption into the Catholic Church.” And now you know why I write for the oldest Catholic newspaper in the country which is determinedly opposed to relativism and whose enemies call it hopelessly out-of-date.

Seventh, except for the great pain that has occurred to children and families which has been truly incredible, the loss of souls and the disaster that has afflicted my Church (a gigantic exception), the fact that its hierarchy and priests have been sorely humbled is not bad. The fact that good priests I know who wear clericals are glowered at as they walk down the street is not all bad. Being humbled, humiliated, as I have discovered, is balm for the soul. When I was young, priests were elevated to an unconscionable prominence by average Catholics—primarily because in the `30s, priests were usually the best educated in our neighborhoods. People would go to them with problems including jobs, trade unions and politics about which they had no expertise. Too many bishops and prelates lived and indeed still live like worldly princes rather than princes of the Church. Cardinal George is an exception and has been guided by his many talents including a trenchant sense of humor. I trust he will meet the challenge of this controversy as he has so many others.

So sorry to go so long. And now, your comments.

The Fallible Typist and Other Observations for a Monday Morning

In response to “Austin mayor”: yes, the piece on the Catholic Church did carry the typo you discerned. The correct quote from Justice Anne Burke should be:
“He’s [the Cardinal] is the ultimate person in charge here,” she said. “He’s never had the intent, I think, to abide by [the zero tolerance policy] other than in words. I’m hoping this is at least a wake-up call.”

“Abide” not “above” as in the piece. Since I type my own stuff as I write it, these exasperating typos are bound to occur. Reminds me of the days I was on the Saint Cloud [Minnesota] Times in the early `50s when we had a phenomenally bad proof reader. My copy reporting on the city’s police department reported that a Mr. Stotko (a friend of mine, actually who became the father-in-law of Bob Moretti who was the Democratic majority leader of the California House during the terms of Ronald Reagan) was a “defective on the police force.” We had to print a correction for the outraged man. It read: “We apologize for a typographical error calling Mr. Stotko a defective on the police force. He is a detective on the police farce.”


For many years I thought it a terrible disadvantage to have a fat face with thick glasses and (at one time) sandy hair (sort of like the photo with Henry Hyde but 30 years younger) rather than a thin, angular Gregory Peck visage—but I’ve had a great deal of fun with it. One evening in 1973 while doing a stand-up in the Men’s at the Madison Hotel Montpelier Room restaurant, another guy moved next to me and observed in a stentorian voice, “Well, Larry, these Republicans sure got into a lot of trouble trying to screw around with us Democrats, didn’t they?” As I tried to figure it out before answering, he moved away, washed his hands, held them aloft before the automatic dryer and the room immediately became filled with patrons. Since there was a dryer din and people who hadn’t heard his remark, I merely said, “Yeah, that’ll teach `em.” Thinking that would end it. He then exulted: “Hey, guys, meet Larry O’Brien, chairman of the Democratic party whose office got bugged by those Nixon creeps!” What do you do now, say “no I’m not he?” I said, “yeah, really something, huh?” and breezed out the door, hoping the real O’Brien wasn’t there (as he usually was in the evenings).

Another time—this was about 1970—when I was the publicist for the Peace Corps, my boss, the Corps director who was equivalent to an assistant Secretary of State ordered his car with driver to pick him up at the self-same hotel, the Madison—and I was to ride with it. When we pulled up and I jumped out he was nowhere to be seen. A group of tourists waiting for their bus spotted me and a woman with a piercing voice said, “Oh, there’s Dr. Kissinger!” Looking around to see if my boss was there and gratified he was not, I raised my right hand and extended two fingers to form a V, muttering in a German guttural, “Negotiation is the key!” and barged into the hotel to an enthusiastic sprinkling of applause which caused the sidewalk pedestrians to crane their necks. Once inside, I bumped headlong into my boss who, having seen the whole performance, said with pretended unctuousness, “Doctor, may I escort you back to your car?” Which he did to the hushed thrill of the crowd, holding the rear door for me as I, weighed down with affairs of state, slipped in whereupon he jumped in next to the driver and I gave the bored gesture to move on, flashing the ladies my V sign once more. We changed seats in the next block. But, all in all, not a bad day.


A number of commentaries on the Channel 2 gubernatorial debate gave dreadful reviews to Ron Gidwitz: he was inarticulate, stiff and so on. Well, give him this: he’s not a pol. I’ll say this: while he and I don’t agree on social policy, if, perchance he were to become governor, my guess is that conservatives would find in him the kind of tough, libertarian governor that would stun them with a fearlessness that would make them proud. He and I had an interesting conversation before he debuted on my radio program and I learned this about him: he’s not the kind of guy who would worry about reelection; he would slash the hell out of the budget, incur any special interest animosity that would come to him in doing so, would probably conclude that by rectifying the budget imbalances he would not get reelected, and become the toughest, most integrity-filled governor Illinois ever had. Having done all these things and having returned the state to solvency, he would probably be stunned to find himself more popular than he imagined. My advice to fellow conservatives is don’t knock Ron. His strength doesn’t just depend on Steve Rauschenberger his excellent choice for lieutenant governor—but on his own gut.

So lighten up on Ron, my friends.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Sorry, Your Eminence: Justice Burke is Right.

Issue Turns on Children vs. Priests’ Civil Liberties Rights. But There Was Another Solution. Interestingly, Priests Fail to Rally Around Prelate Who Backs Their “Innocence Until Proven Guilty” Status Despite His Willingness to Go to the Mat for Them.

At the end of the Mass I attended Friday morning, the celebrant asked for prayers for the Church—and also for priests. I know what he means. Several years ago I wrote a biography of a very distinguished and revered priest, Msgr. Ignatius McDermott who initiated a career of caring for the ignored and unloved of Skid Row and extended it to build an institution on the West Side every bit as serviceable to the poor as the Betty Ford clinic is to the wealthy. It was his bad luck to have a 95-year life that began when priests were held sacrosanct (possibly too much so, in my view) to an era when many were regarded unjustly with suspicion on the street for the sins of a few (also too much generalization)—but an era where too many bishops became clerical bureaucrats and p. r. clients, lacking the steely resolve of bishops past. I regret the pain that comes to good priests who have to fight stereotypes but the real pain as well that comes when children are abused. The other day in Chicago Catholics formed around two eminent contenders: Appellate Justice Anne Burke (wife of the powerful alderman Eddie) and Francis Cardinal George, himself a distinguished theologian and philosopher. I give Round One and the entire controversy thus far to Justice Burke.

At issue is the case of Father Daniel McCormack, pastor of Chicago’s St. Agatha’s church. A white priest, popular with his black congregation on the black South Side, Father McCormack was charged on January 21 with two counts of aggravated criminal sexual abuse for allegedly molesting two boys at St. Agatha’s. One youth says the priest fondled him two to three times a month from September, 2001 when he was nine to January, 2005. A second boy, now 11, says the priest fondled him on two occasions in December, 2003 when he was eight. In addition, a nun who worked at the now closed Holy Family school says that in 2000, the priest made another attempt on a fourth grade boy; on Wednesday, police interviewed a 16-year-old who claims McCormack abused him in 2005. Finally, the mother of a 17-year-old is saying the priest acted improperly when her son was 13 in a basketball program at St. Agatha’s which prosecutors are investigating.

Last weekend police arrested the 37-year-old pastor and charged him with abusing two boys at the parish (at which he became pastor in 2000) between September, 2001 and January, 2005. The crucial point: Since last August, the archdiocese was aware of allegations from one of the boys but did not remove him from the ministry because police had not found sufficient evidence to charge him with a crime nor had the archdiocese found enough information to conduct its own investigation. Rather than act, the archdiocese told Father McCormack not to be alone with children and assigned another priest at St. Agatha’s to monitor McCormack’s behavior. The archdiocese didn’t remove him until last weekend when he was charged with the two counts of aggravated sexual abuse.

Father McCormack also said Mass at the now vacated Holy Family school from 1997 to 2000. There he allegedly took undue liberties with a boy who wanted to be an altar server. The boy’s mother began to call McCormack and leave messages to which there was no response. The nun followed up and told McCormack the mother would be waiting for him at church the following day to bring up her son’s charge. The next morning the mother came, met with McCormack and then left saying to the nun, “Everything’s fine. Don’t pursue it.” The nun said when McCormack came out, she asked what happened. He looked at the floor, reddened and told her, “I used very poor judgment. I have to go.” The nun called an official at Chicago Catholic schools to report it but was told by an administrator that if the mother isn’t pushing it, let it go. But the nun didn’t; she wrote down her suspicions in a letter which she hand-delivered to the school administrator in late winter or early spring of 2000. The schools said this week that the letter was nowhere to be found.

Archdiocesean Chancellor Jimmy Lago (intriguingly, Jimmy, not James, is the name he was given at christening which makes him different than Jimmy Carter whose baptismal name was James Earl, causing many to wonder why they would name their son Jimmy, but discard this) said that, “Without seeming to dump on Sister, she had an affirmative rersponsibility that she cannot transfer, assign or gift [sic] to anybody else. If she became aware there was abuse, she should have reported it” to civil authorities. “”This was 2000. This was not 1979 when people might have been confused about what their responsibilities are. She had a legal obligation to file an abuse-neglected child report period.”

Father McCormack was the subject of other felony charges for allegedly molesting an 8-year-old Willowbrook boy at St. Agatha’s twice in December, 2003 but prosecutors felt they did not have a sufficient case at the time. Archdiocesan authorities say they first learned of abuse allegations against McCormack last August when the mother of the Willowbrook boy went to the police. They said they did not punish McCormack because they could not determine whether the charges were serious.

When the first boy’s allegations came to light, in August, 2005 the archdiocese requested that the police ask the parents of the accuser (the name of which the archdiocese didn’t know) to come to the archdiocese and give information so the church could begin its own probe. Nothing happened.

Illinois Appellate Justice Anne Burke immediately weighed in on the controversy. She was the acting head of the bishops’ National Review Board which had been set up to recommend procedures for handling abuse charges. She maintained that Francis Cardinal George should have removed McCormack last summer to be consistent with the zero-tolerance policy adopted by the bishops toward clergy sex abuse of children. “He’s [the Cardinal] is the ultimate person in charge here,” she said. “He’s never had the intent, I think, to above by [the zero tolerance policy] other than in words. I’m hoping this is at least a wake-up call.”

Cardinal George has responded directly and flatly to deny that the archdiocese was purportedly derelict on handling the allegations and not removing Father McCormack promptly. A strong civil libertarian who was thought to be leaning toward safeguard of priests’ rights since the original priests’ abuse controversy ignited in Boston several years ago, Cardinal George has strongly defended the way the archdiocese handled allegations concerning the priest. A key sentence in his statement: “Some have said that Fr. McCormack should have been immediately removed from ministry last August on the basis of what remains hearsay, without any sort of process. It seems to me morally wrong to insist that anyone should be punished on the basis of a story that could not be investigated. If this were the practice, no one would be safe.”

To my way of thinking, Justice Burke is absolutely right, notwithstanding that I have not been a fan of hers on other issues which are not germane here. Cardinal George has leaned over way too far to support priests while failing to recognize that steps could have been taken to remove a cleric dangerous to children as investigations continue without scourging him in the public square. Priests are transferred in this archdiocese all the time. McCormack could have been sent to a desk job while the probe went on without any opprobrium. Instead, the archdiocese leaned over backwards to supposedly protect his “civil liberties” when, in fact, none of those liberties would have been endangered had he merely been transferred. Suppose a bank teller was accused of associating with the Outfit. Does the bank keep him on the job while the investigation goes on? Not on your life. He is transferred to inspect the time clock on the big vault until the probe is completed. Where is it written that a priest accused of molestation must continue in his post exactly as heretofore when, without prejudice, he could have been transferred downtown pending the outcome of the investigation?

The problem is that the archdiocese has failed to recognize that the very first concern—one that is paramount above all others—is the well-being of children under its care…not priests, not bureaucrats, not the p.r. image of the church—especially when means are at hand to protect the priests from damaging baseless allegations while exerting first and foremost protection of school children.

The interesting thing here is that Cardinal George came to Chicago under attack by a coterie of liberal priests (including the late rector of Holy Name Cathedral, a liberal populist known as “Little Bob”) who called him “Francis the Corrector” which unjustly blistered him supposedly not being pro-priest, whatever that meant). When Mary Anne Hackett, the president of Catholic Citizens of Illinois, a Catholic lay organization (of which I’m chairman) defended him against the slurs, he shrugged off the defense saying he didn’t need it, typical, in the minds of some observers, of a naïf university professor type who didn’t know who his real friends were. Far from not being pro-priest, in this first instance since the clergy abuse scandal broke, the Cardinal—well-intentionedly but to this observer misguidedly—puts more emphasis on protecting priests than their children charges.

Cardinal George has become a leading force for clarification of understanding on theological and philosophical issues in the entire church, witness the strong and almost verifiable rumor that he was asked by Benedict XVI to head the office that Ratzinger led for many years under John Paul. Reportedly the Cardinal turned it down in order not to be a Vatican bureaucrat and be a shepherd for his people. His record leads many including me to anticipate that he may well be the most intellectually astute leader of the archdiocese since George Cardinal Mundelein. And that he has reportedly passed up a huge appointment to stay here with us shows his mettle.

Good for him. Very well, then. Be the children’s archbishop and change the emphasis from protecting priests under suspicion to protecting children first, last and always. Justice Burke is entirely right.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

The Republican Debate on Channel 2 Last Night. It’s Oberweis v. Brady

The Republican gubernatorial debate on Channel 2 last night convinced me of one thing. Those who have worried about Topinka scooping up the marbles are wrong. While it is more advantageous for Jim Oberweis (who did very well in the debate) to position himself as the Topinka challenger, I think the real contest will be between Oberweis and Brady. Reason: I don’t know what she’s done to herself and maybe it was my TV set, but Judy looked haggard, at least ten years older than she is (61). Could it be she lost too much weight? In which case remind me not to do the same. It’s better to be fat and have the wrinkles fill out than to be gaunt and have the wrinkles stand out there. While it’s not politically correct to criticize a lady’s appearance, I thought her hands were shockingly gnarled when she raised them to gesture. Either the years or her makeup person torpedoed her.

In addition to which, those who expected a tone of authority to come from one who is state treasurer, was state senator and state representative, it didn’t. I thought she would have communicated a sense of ease with business topics. Asked where in the budget she would cut, she said the driveway to the governor’s mansion which Rod isn’t using anyhow—a saving of $1 million. I agree with those who say Oberweis occupied the Reagan posture even to the deferential bob of the head to show humility. He was superbly equipped to give authority in the debate and that he did.

I also think that the debate helped Bill Brady enormously. He has been the unknown factor up here in northern Illinois. His description of himself as Goldielocks—half way between Topinka’s experience and the businessmen’s non-experience, was masterful and a winner. So in summary, I think the race is between Oberweis and Brady. If it becomes such, will Topinka slip in? After last night, I don’t think so. She simply didn’t show the expertise her backers have insisted she has.

I’m not much impressed by those who say Oberweis has run several times and hasn’t won. Bill Proxmire, who became the leading Democrat in Wisconsin, ran for governor in 1952, 1952 and 1956—and lost every time. When he asked why he wasn’t winning, the answer came back that he was too smooth, too prepared, too oracular almost like a radio announcer. Proxmire then began to scratch his head, say “well” a lot before answering and hem and haw as if in deep thought. It took many years for him to develop a style that carried him through his career.

There’s no doubt that television is Brady’s medium. To my friends who say I dwell too much on telegenic charm, I remind them on JFK on the tube and the haggard, tired, grey Nixon in response. Brady is a made for TV candidate, Oberweis less so. Gidwitz is just himself. Frankly, I didn’t think Gidwitz bombed: he just was himself which isn’t too bad when recognized as a non-charismatic businessman.

So in summary: I think the race could well be between Oberweis and Brady. I have changed my impression of Judy. The longer she is away from the cameras the better she looks, but when they’re all together she comes off second to worst. Unless she gets a new makeup artist and better command of the statistics befitting her reputation.

“Going Hollywood,” “Standing Tall in Georgetown” and “Back to the Reservation” : Conservative Terms and What They Mean

Going Hollywood has been a term conservatives have used for many years but has not been understood by the general public which is unfamiliar with its history. Now that Sen. John McCain is riding high in the polls, it’s bound to be referred to in conservative lexicon and blogs—so here’s what it means.

“Hollywood” applies to warm media approbation for fashionably stylish and popular politically correct opinion. Usually it pertains to Republicans, but Democrats can Go Hollywood by adopting a stand or two on the right. Almost all Republicans have Gone Hollywood at one time or other (Nixon often, supporting liberal welfare reform and creating the EPA). Barry Goldwater, too. Goldwater was elected and reelected Senator and then in his later years decided to Go Hollywood to embrace abortion rights and gay rights, whereupon he received major media attention as an enlightened statesman. The greatest living example a Republican Going Hollywood overnight was Rep. John B. Anderson (R-IL). A Goldwater conservative when elected in 1960, he was given a seat on the House Rules committee because (a) he was regarded as trustworthy by the Republican minority and (b) because he was taking a Rules seat formerly held by Rep. Leo Allen of Illinois who was fore-square an ally of such conservative Dems as Chairman Howard Smith (D-Va.), an opponent of racial integration and his sidekick Rep. William Colmer (D-Miss.) who later succeeded to the chairmanship. The Rules committee was picked to hold the line against progressive legislation, sit on it and kill it, sparing the entire House from voting on issues that were popular.

As a key Rules member, Anderson issued a “statement of conscience” on the civil rights bill of 1964 and announced he would vote to send it to the floor, thus earning himself buckets of favorable press from major media sources. (I thought Anderson Going Hollywood over civil rights then was the right and proper thing to do). But his conversion on civil rights was only the beginning. After he was pictured by The New York Times in the approved statesmanlike fashion, with forefinger pressed to his cheek as he stared thoughtfully out the window with the sunlight burnishing his white hair like a halo, he got to like it. He quickly moved into a monthly road-to-Damascus convert, winning the chairmanship of the House Republican Conference when Jerry Ford decided that it would look good for the leadership to have at least one liberal in its ranks.

Most Republicans believe it is necessary to Go Hollywood at least once, sometimes several times. For one thing, political survival often depends on it. Henry Hyde’s movement from abject opposition pure 2nd amendment rooter to assault weapon ban endorser (which as a Hyde loyalist I also supported) signified not just reexamination of the issue but recognition of the changing values of the suburbs which he represented. But notice he how did it—gradually and over a span of several years so as not to unduly disturb the base. Anderson’s Going Hollywood was governed by favorable press solely and his movement leftward went z-i-p, embracing campaign finance “reform” seemingly overnight which raised him to liberal canonization nationally where most of his colleagues stood pat. Then he switched from pro-life to pro-choice and he was soon Standing Tall in Georgetown, home of the trendy elite and most of the editorial columnists at the major newspapers and magazines. Soon he was billed as the Republican Democrats most admired. He became emblematic for Standing Tall in Georgetown, a phrase which comes from Allen Drury’s best-selling novel “Advise and Consent.”

Had Andersen been appointed to the Senate by Dick Ogilvie after Ev Dirksen’s death in 1969 where he would have been a colleague of Chuck Percy, his leftward trek would have paid off. But staying in the House while continuing to Go Hollywood cost him plenty. He got conservative flak in his district and opposition for reelection as Republican Conference chairman. Still he moved leftward, becoming a foe of the Vietnam war, arch-defender of abortion rights and a true, very-very blue state liberal. By 1980 he either had to fish or cut bait. He ran for president, won the Illinois presidential primary, lost everywhere else, competed against Ronald Reagan and others for 1980 delegates and after losing, left the Republican party to run as an independent. Later he flipped the kimono and declared himself a liberal Democrat whereupon he became forgotten by the media because he was just like all of its other favorites. Now he’ s a stodgy old guy in Florida who let Going Hollywood ruin him.

The latest example of Going Hollywood is, of course, media hound John McCain who has become the Democrats’ favorite Republican, embracing a wide variety of their favorite issues: campaign “reform,” steadfast erosion of firmness on abortion, an enemy of “torture” and a critic of President Bush’s stand on wire-tapping. No one Stands Taller in Georgetown than John McCain. But going Hollywood and Standing Tall in Georgetown is not the way to the Republican nomination—because the conservative base becomes displeased. McCain figures he can keep the base because of his previous prisoner-of-war legendary story: and maybe he can. He makes another appeal to the base by trying to cut pork. In this he is vastly more astute and sophisticated than Anderson who was nothing less than a Democrat in Republican closing toward the end of his GOP career. In contrast, Condi Rice can Go Hollywood simply by showing up (an African American woman educator, secretary of state, super tough against terrorists). She doesn’t need to go left but can go right as far as she wishes: I believe she can stay pro-choice and keep the base by pledging to follow Bush’s precedent on appointment of judges. Rudy Giuliani can’t Go Hollywood by merely showing up—and he needs some adjustment to solidify the base.

Going Hollywood is not exactly always unacceptable by any means but it must be done carefully. Bill Frist didn’t do it carefully with embryonic stem cells (he didn’t notify the White House before he did it). On a personal note, I decided to Go Hollywood for a short time when as a Commerce Department head of minority enterprise who couldn’t get along with the Nixon crowd and facing abrupt firing (having a wife, three kids and another on the way). Ever since, he’s been trying to go Back to the Reservation. It’s interesting that Barack Obama hasn’t Gone Hollywood by risking a token move to the right, believing he doesn’t need it. I think he does.

The best example of adroitly Going Hollywood is Bill Brady’s vote for state tuition help for the children of illegal aliens, he maintaining that punitive measures shouldn’t be visited upon the children. Conservatives feel Jim Oberweis is right on that point, that illegals shouldn’t be rewarded. Oberweis is right to stick with that point and the base is with him—but I think Brady helps himself by Going Hollywood because it distinguishes him from Oberweis; if he were a clone there’d be no sense running. Another good example of how to Go Hollywood is Mark Kirk who embraces abortion rights but who the base knows couldn’t have been elected in his affluent district without it: and so it forgives him. Kirk votes pro-abort but doesn’t trumpet it. Among Democrats, I think the best one to Go Hollywood is State Senator Susan Garrett, who very much impresses me as a terrific campaigner and outstanding communicator beyond anyone else in the Democratic state senate: but for her to Go Hollywood, she has to tip her hat to the right on something (maybe on taxes or spending), which she’ll figure out how and when to do one day.

Sorry to run on. Take it as the tell-tale mark of old age. If you took the time to read this, I’d sure like your views on Going Hollywood, Standing Tall in Georgetown and Back to the Reservation. Hit the Comments and give me your views.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

The Oberweis-Brady Debate at the City Club. (Written Wednesday Afternoon)

So pleased was I at the Oberweis-Brady debate yesterday noon at the City Club that I was glad Judy Baar Topinka and Ron Gidwitz decided to wimp out—because it gave two outstanding, vital conservatives more time and allowed for greater exploring of their views. I really can’t tell you who won because they were both so effective in making their cases. I know that for some people there who hadn’t the opportunity to see them before, it was revelatory. My personal views more nearly correspond to Oberweis’ because of his vast private sector experience as a brilliantly successful economic forecaster—with one exception: I believe Brady scored with his support of state tuition for children of illegals. But dominating it both on the stump and at the table where we had journalists sitting with us was Jim Oberweis’ mastery of economics and business which is essential for the next governor. Honest, folks: nominating either one would please me very much. I’d have problems with the other two—probably if it were down to the two liberals I’d prefer Gidwitz. Which leaves the accordion lady—and if she wins the nomination, I’d think long and hard. But that’s another story.

Tell me what you think—particularly if you were at the debate. But if not, go ahead anyhow.

Today’s the City Club Gubernatorial Debate with Brady and Oberweis

That’s at Maggiano’s banquet center at noon. Judy Baar Topinka and Ron Gidwitz are stonewalling by not showing up: the hope being that the media will stiff it since the “irrepressible” prematurely orange-haired accordion lady will not be there. I’ll report this afternoon on how I think it went.

Thanks to

Eric Zorn for suggesting in his Tribune column yesterday that life does not necessarily end for either Milt Rosenberg or me now that we’re approximately the same age and in the senior citizen class, citing our blogs. I appreciate the plug.

Political Shootout Sunday: Rauschenberger and Berkowitz.

State Sen. Steve Rauschenberger (R-Elgin), a candidate for lieutenant governor on the ticket headed by Ron Gidwitz will be on with Jeff Berkowitz, noted for asking hard questions—except that I’ll be requiring my friend Jeff to answer more questions than he asks. But as host on his own CAN-TV show where he interviews politicians, he’s getting the hang of it.

There Oberweis Goes Again: Supporting Heterosexual Marriage!

gay marriage 2
Yes, Jim Oberweis has done it again, according to Crain’s Chicago Business on January 23. According to Shruti Date Singh, he “introduced a divisive issue into the GOP gubernatorial primary Monday by announcing he is planning to help fund a petition urging the state recognize only marriages between man and woman as legal unions.” The headline says “Oberweis Injects Potentially Divisive Issue into GOP Primary.”

I’ll tell you, you’ve got to watch this guy. First thing you know, he’ll be insisting that all high school students, both boys and girls, use the same curriculum. What’s next? Mandating that before Illinois college students graduate they have to show their thesis? He’s a radical extremist I tell you. Jeopardizing the gubernatorial election by plunging headlong into support of male and female marriage would only seem potentially divisive to Crain’s, a purported business magazine which leans to liberal ideology, Democratic endorsements and is the local house-organ for political correctness.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Congratulations to Lynn Sweet

…for continuing to manage the fire-power for President-to-Be Barack Obama and Congresswoman-to-Be Tammy Duckworth. Chicago’s unapologetically Democratic newspaper told us that, sadly, Obama will not be making the presidential race in 2008. That is indeed too bad as it would be splendiferous for the networks to run Roots-type dramatizations of the book “Dreams of My Father” while all of us would be expected to act like we’re in church as we view the matriculation of young Barack through the torturously discriminatorily tough grind of Harvard Law as he surmounted the challenges mounted by the likes of Lawrence Tribe.

Ms. Sweet even tossed care to the winds to report that her favorite Rahm Emanuel was going to co-host an event for Tammy at a lobbyist-law firm in Washington to be attended by San Francisco’s Nancy Pelosi (whose endorsement of Duckworth will go over well with independents and Republicans in the 6th district of Illinois). Not long ago Sweet acted like the staff of God’s righteous anger in condemning Peter Roskam for receiving support at events identical—but, you see, it depends on who’s receiving the largesse. Anyhow for her fearlessly Democratic broadsides in behalf of a journalism that I for one wish would return—the old-fashioned, partisan kind—Sweet deserves applause. The Sun-Times still has a way to go by getting rid of some national tokens like Will, O’Reilly and Barone which sully its locally leftward tone.

At Last: Good News from the Supreme Court

You can almost hear Linda Greenhouse of The New York Times (the Mother Jones of the Supreme Court press contingent) gasp in dismay in her article in today’s paper. Somehow after all these years of satisfying her deepest whims, the Court decided to throw open the door to legal challenges made against McCain-Feingold on First Amendment grounds.

Ms. Greenhouse, the breathlessly fervent biographer of the author of Roe v. Wade (“Becoming Justice Blackman”) can’t understand it, as her piece plainly illustrates. Why only two years ago, she wails, the Court in a 5 to 4 decision seemed to spurn free speech challenges. Now on the very day that pro-lifers by the thousands marched in Washington, the court rules that both the government as well as a special three-judge federal court had misinterpreted its earlier decision foreclosing future challenges to advertising restrictions they had slapped on advertisements and corporate sponsors.

Not only that, to Greenhouse’s almost violent distaste, the justices vacated the lower court’s decision as it applied to an advertisement not just a group—but a right-to-life group—sought to broadcast on Wisconsin television. This after Linda and The New York Times editorial board thought that they had their monopoly on their own privately controlled speech locked up: only to see the specter of dissent that would pollute the airwaves and possibly interfere with establishmentarian control over the people’s right to know. Not only did the Roberts Court change direction but given that Sam Alito will be in all likelihood coming on board soon, there are going to be some grey days for Linda.

Birkett and Noonan: A Rapid-Fire Team Emphasizing the Best in Bipartisanship

birkett hs
The Joe Birkett-Mike Noonan team on Sunday’s Political Shootout (WLS-AM: 890) was one of the best debates held in the current season and shows graphically how Joe Birkett is, as a running mate, developing into a first-tier help for Judy Baar Topinka. Probably Birkett is helping her more than any other lieutenant governor candidate—because he is supplying the authentic conservative edge to a governor candidate who is far beyond the social policy mainstream. Face it: Topinka is no different than your average liberal Democrat on social issues but Birkett supplies the thrust that could spell the difference between how many votes they get from the right. Assuredly, she may lose and he may come in first for lieutenant governor—but any candidate for governor would be able to accept this straight-talking ingratiating prosecutor who comes from the Austin west-side neighborhood, one of 10 children whose father died early and who built up an impressive string of accomplishments by age 50 (a tender age for politicians).

One thing that struck me in the program was Birkett’s ease in melding his experience with Topinka’s, showing no discomfort in delineating where they disagree but stressing their agreement. It was a bravura performance by a real pro. It seems to me that Topinka executed a masterstroke in picking him and thus indicating that his rugged views on society and law enforcement will at least be given high visibility in her administration. There also was a feeble attempt with a few phone calls to register the old Rolando Cruz argument—but time has passed on that issue: indeed, it has grown whiskers. Birkett’s smooth handling of a possible embarrassing situation with Rod McCollough and the bogus voter lists showed me how adroit he has become in the handling of touchy issues. As the only one in the Conservative Summit who voted for Birkett for governor, I left the studio convinced that I was right all along—indeed, prescient. But then I was brought down to earth by my wife who also likes Birkett but who said I ought to stop thinking about how smart I was and get home and take out ash cans for garbage pickup in Park Ridge.

All of this is not to negate the man who drives conservatives nuts and who sets all ten lines to burning brightly with his provocative yet astute assessments, Mike Noonan. It’s always a good day for me when Noonan agrees to be on the show. Now that we won’t be hearing any more from the Bears for a year, I plan to have him hold up the liberal end quite often.

Monday, January 23, 2006

The Republican Prospects for 2008. Not Just the Same Old Names

This should be a readers’ plebiscite especially for Republican viewers. I don’t know about you but I’m greatly concerned about the chances of retaining the presidency in 2008—not because I think Bush is in trouble but I surmise a weariness of the electorate with the same party running things. It goes along with my discouragement that the Democratic party (with the possible exception of Hillary) does not have anyone with the strength of conviction to stand up to terrorism in the way Bush has.

There is nothing that can be done with the Democratic party except to defeat it again and again. Fortunately the Dems are helping by featuring absurdities like Biden, Durbin and Kennedy. The only solution is, it seems to me, for the GOP to nominate a person out of the ordinary with the track record and character to continue the record Bush has begun. Out of the ordinary would seem to disqualify some very good men, some of whom I particularly like: George Allen, Sam Brownback, Tom Coburn among them. I fear that if these were nominated, they could not overcome the very natural inclination of the electorate to change parties. I particularly fear John McCain who ranks very high in the polls—fear him because I worry about the war hero as opportunist. Anyone who crusaded for the McCain-Feingold bill, the demagogue who rode public hysteria against “torture” and then when asked what a president would do in time of crisis suggested just ignore the legislation, is not of sufficient character to be president—not withstanding what happened to him in the Hanoi Hilton. A tough and impolitic judgment, but there it is.

Two others who could get elected are Rudy Giuliani and Condoleezza Rice. Ordinarily they would not impress me except that I believe the number one issue will be national security. You can’t convince me that these folks aren’t top drawer quality with the decisiveness that is lacking in ordinary politicians. But my fellow social conservatives will say that both are insufficiently postured on social issues: abortion, et al. True, but I am old enough to believe that this can change. Reagan signed the most liberal abortion bill in the nation and then became a pro-lifer. George H. W. Bush campaigned for the nomination as a pro-abort and switched overnight to run with Reagan as a pro-lifer.

Personally, I would prefer Rice because of her stunning qualifications. She has said she is not interested but the suggestion that with Cheney’s ill health he could resign and allow the president to appoint her as vice president (with her having to obtain confirmation from both House and Senate) would suit me just fine. The time for movement people to insist on strictly pro-lifers serving in the presidency has passed, I think. For one thing, the times have changed and have aided the pro-life cause. I would settle for her agreeing to name strict constructionists to the federal court. After all, isn’t that what we’re after? Giuliani would be acceptable but he has a lot more ground to make up. He was originally a pro-lifer and changed to run for mayor of New York. All told, I would prefer Rice, then Giuliani if Giuliani would make a commitment on judges.

I have gone on too long. I’d appreciate getting your views in Comments and thanks.

A Correction but Not a Retraction. When the House was Really a Plantation

That will teach me to write off the top of my head about a story I lived through but didn’t research after passage of 45 years to check the facts! A Mr. Fake Name wrote the other day commenting on my post concerning Adam Clayton Powell. I wrote that the African American Powell was unhorsed by the Democratic rulers of the House plantation when Sam Rayburn was Speaker. Not so: it was John McCormack of Massachusetts. The identity of the Speaker was a technical error but the expulsion was done by the Democratic plantation was the same: dominated by southern committee chairmen. I apologize for being sloppy. But Mr.Fake Name is not 100 percent right, either. In fact, if I may say so, I was nearer to being right than he was with his well-deserved acerbic correction of me, for which I thank him.

Long a bone in the white Democratic leadership’s throat, Powell had collected sufficient enemies at a time when blacks didn’t count for much in the Democratic hierarchy and after a number of public relations gaffes including closet support of some Eisenhower measures in the `50s, including covert support of Eisenhower himself in 1956. If Powell got involved in a lawsuit of a woman who claimed he had wrongly accused her of collecting police graft (as I’m sure he did), it did not strike a well-respected history of the Congress to be recorded as a reason for his being unhorsed. Assuredly, as Mr. Fake Name accurately reports, Powell refused to pay the damages. But to suppose that he was unhorsed because of the law-suit is to imagine that no white chairman had ever been caught before in a suit without surrendering his post in Congress.

“The American Heritage History of the Congress of the United States” edited by Stephen W. Sears [American Heritage: 1975] reported “Powell, a tall, ruggedly handsome man, had been in and out of the headlines with tax and personal problems but members charged him particularly with long absences, use of public funds for personal travel and high-handed leadership of his committee. After an inquiry, the House, on March 1, 1967 voted to declare Powell’s seat vacant. Though his constituency immediately reelected him, Powell made no effort to reclaim his seat but took his case to court. The next year he was again reelected and when the Ninety-First Congress met early in 1969 he was permitted to take his seat but fined $25,000 and stripped of his seniority. In June of the same year, the Supreme Court ruled that he had been improperly excluded from the House in 1967. Powell served the rest of his term but was defeated in a primary in 1970.

The fact that Powell was charged with long absences was blatantly discriminatory against Powell as recorded by many journalists of the day including Drew Pearson and Jack Anderson as well as for those of us who recalled Howard (Judge) Smith leaving the chairmanship of the Rules committee ostensibly to look after his apple orchard in Virginia, precisely when civil rights legislation was languishing before Rules. Or when Armed Services chairman L. Mendel Rivers of South Carolina was too drunk to preside (and he with a loaded revolver he carried with him at all times!). Or when Teddy Green of Rhode Island, who at 91 was chairman of Foreign Relations, would nod off and turn off his hearing aid at some sessions so as not to be disturbed. The point is that those were the days when the Congress, particularly the House was truly a plantation. Thus I stand contrite but unbowed.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Hillary’s View of the House of Representatives “Plantation”: Typical Overstatement

hillary plantatin
It’s coming to be a Democratic tradition on Martin Luther King’s day that those seeking high office exaggerate, spindle and mutilate the truth for headlines, using a racial tag as a grabber. Nothing recent has tied the Hillary Rodham Clinton statement delivered in a typical scream before a wildly approving black audience than the House of Representatives under Republicans has become a “plantation.” Earlier, Al Gore used a similar forum to shout great doubt that President Bush followed time-honored security procedure notwithstanding that Bill Clinton had done the same. Frenetic partisans are expected to ignore this but those who concentrate on the details see the subterfuge.

As one who labored as a lowly staffer in a House that was run by Democrats for decades, Ms. Clinton doesn’t know what a plantation was. For one thing, the Sam Rayburn House wantonly mistreated one of the two African American committee chairmen, negated his chairmanship and forced him to return to his district where he ran again and was reelected by the voters. That was Adam Clayton Powell who along with Illinois’ William Dawson was one of two black chairmen, Powell of Education and Labor. Unlike Dawson who was a quiet, get-along-go-along player, Powell was a Harlem minister and exciting speaker, a tall, ruggedly handsome, brilliant man with a recklessness in his personal life that proved to be a scandal to the white southern Democratic establishment that ran the House: people who, in addition to Rayburn, involved “Judge” Howard Smith of Virginia who ran Rules and his deputy, Bill Colmer of Pascagoula, Mississippi. I knew Colmer fairly well later in life along with his then chief of staff, a man named Trent Lott.

The married Powell made a habit of running around with white women which was a scandal to the string-tie southerners. After he went to Bimini with one for a vacation, the real plantation owners in the House put up such a howl that the l’affair Powell became grist for the tabloid mill. This along with other fancied indignities led to the Democratic plantation people un-horsing Powell from his committee. He was publicly disgraced and went back to Harlem where he won easily in a special election and returned. But his committee chairmanship was gone and he served not long after that in a kind of purgatory. No one knows about this better than the man who ultimately defeated him, one who usually is very vocal about racial matters, Charlie Rangel. Wonder why he didn’t pipe up about the Republican plantation? Probably because he knows full well the story of the real Plantation where white southern bigots ran the House, reelected in a segregationist south and named people to key chairmanships who sat on civil rights legislation for years. I still can’t get over the chutzpah of Hillary Clinton, who should know this history, getting away with that crack before the amen corner in Harlem!

Henry Hyde: And Why His Picture is Up Here

When on the third week of April, 1789 Vice President-Elect John Adams arrived in New York by carriage from Quincy, Massachusetts for the first Congress he was met at the northern end of Manhattan Island at Spuyten Duyvil Creek. But something was on Adams’ mind that indicated the importance he gave to status befitting his role as president of the first session of the United States Senate. As he jounced along, he bounced his questions to the delegation—Senator Tristram Dalton of Massachusetts, Senator Oliver Ellsworth of Connecticut and those whom history merely records as three members of the House of Representatives.

You would think the powerfully serious Adams, the legislative leader of the Revolution, would be wondering how the new nation would fare in the first real excursion in world history as a democratic republic. No. Something more pervasive was on his mind, which typified the important—indeed the pomposity—that has been invested in the Senate since it founding and which distinguishes it from the House which was labeled by the founders statement “here the people rule.” History records these words from Adams to those who met him: “Gentlemen, I feel great difficulty how to act. I am possessed of two separate powers: the one `in esse’ and the other `in posse.’ I am Vice President. In this I am nothing but I may be everything. But I am president also of the Senate. When the President comes into the Senate, wha shall I be? I can nolt be [president] then. No, gentlemen, I can not. I can no. I wish gentlemen to think what I shall be.”

Nobody had a clue. Moreover they didn’t even on the great day, April 30 when the Senate assembled at eleven-thirty to greet the members of the House for the joint session to greet George Washington. But Adams was still fretting. “Gentlemen,” the official minutes record him as saying to the Senators, “I wish for direction of the Senate. The President will, I suppose, address the Congress. How shall I behave? How shall we receive it? Shall it be standing or sitting?” Sen. Richard Henry Lee responded according to the official record “beginning with the House of Commons (as is usual with him) then the House of Lords, then the King and back again. The result of his information was that the Lords sat and the Commons stood on the delivery of the King’s speech. Mr. Izard got up and…made however this sagacious discovery, that the Common stood because they had no seats to sit on being arrived at the bar of the House of Lords…Mr. Adams got up again and said he had been very often indeed at the Parliament on these occasions but there was always such a crowd, and ladies along, that for his part he could not say how it was.”

At that point the discussion was interrupted when the clerk of the House appeared at t he Senate door with a communication. Adams halted him and wanted to know of the Senate what was the proper way for him to lreceive the clerk? The Senate was in uproar.

Any of us with wives would have known how to resolve it: turn it over t one—not more than one—of them, it not being sexist to realize that women have a knowledge of this matter. But that Senate had no women. Then the Senate was told that not just the clerk of the House but the entire House was at the door waiting to come in and what in the world was holding up the Senate? Someone shouted: “Bring in some chairs!” which is what any one of their wives would have said much earlier. In came the delegation with the president-elect, the hero of the Revolution, Washington surrounded by the red-haired New York chancellor Robert Livingston (ancestor of Louisiana congressman Robert Livingston who unsuccessfully sought to succeed Newt Gingrich), General Clinton, Generals Henry Knox and Arthur St. Clair, Baron von Steuben. Adams and Washington sat in chairs side by side. Then Adams arose and forgot mid-sentence what he had intended to say. Washington knew what he was to do and he arose, walked to the porch and opened the window where there was a crowd assembled outside and took the oath. Back in the room in his seat where he was deprived of hearing Washington so rooted was he in what he thought were the procedural demands of the time, Adams fretted.

Since that time, the Senate has been the lordly, more pontifical and agonizingly tedious chamber; the House has been truly the people’s house. When the founders designed the nature of the House, they clearly regarded it as of having more importance, which is why Madison wanted to run for the House rather than the Senate. And the framers gave members of the House a title that has continued to this day: United States Representative in Congress.

I am a child of the House, not the Senate. I came there as a lowly staffer an ink-stained wretch, a press secretary, when Sam Rayburn ruled (I remember being on an elevator when Rayburn with his entourage entered it, nodded curtly to the elevator operator and we all swiftly ascended to the fifth floor where Rayburn was headed. But we felt that was not pomposity on Rayburn’s part: that was due him as Speaker of the people’s house. Throughout my interest in public affairs, I have been more comfortable with the House. It has a democracy and proletarian-ism about it I love. That’s why after being around a long time—77 years and counting—I can say truthfully that I have known few men who justify the title United States Representative in Congress. One was a boss of mine, Dr. Walter Judd, a surgeon and former medical missionary to China who became ranking Republican on the Foreign Affairs committee, who steadfastly defended a tough position rather than détente with the Soviet Union and China, which judgment was ratified by his receiving in his nineties from the hands of Ronald Reagan the highest medal possible for a president to confer: the Medal of Freedom.

The second is Henry Hyde, for a long time my Congressman and lifetime friend. He is entering his last year of service. Believe it or not, the representation in Congress from Illinois has not been all that awe-inspiring. Abraham Lincoln served only one term and because of his opposition to the Mexican war was so unpopular that he chose not to run for reelection. Yes, there have been three Speakers: Joseph Cannon, known as Uncle Joe, who was also referred to as Czar Cannon who because he single-handedly named committees, was a gruff old tyrant whose overwe’ening sense of power prompted a revolution among progressives including Fighting Bob LaFollette that democratized the House further. William Rainey was a nondescript New Deal supporter who didn’t last long. And the current Speaker, Dennis Hastert whose place in history has not yet been fully ascertained.

But of all the House lawmakers from Illinois, it is my belief that Henry Hyde was the greatest. Almost Churchillian, he crafted the Hyde amendment that took the sting of disunionity out of an ignoble Roe v. Wade decision that barred Americans from deciding this portentous issue. Like Churchill he became the greatest orator of the House for more than 30 years. And like Churchill, he mustered his strength to do a job he despised, and lead impeachment of a president of the United States, knowing full well that there was to be a price to pay from his enemies for what he did. Then when the House declined to give him a waiver so that he could serve out his chairmanship of Judiciary, he ran for chairman of International Affairs, against the opposition, let it be said of those who ran the House, and won, serving to move the House committee to equal stance with the Senate Foreign Relations committee on the conduct of international policy.

No doubt Henry Hyde will receive the award Walter Judd received, the Presidential Medal of Freedom. I personally had wished this administration had named him ambassador to the Vatican, as Henry has been a distinguished—probably the most distinguished—Roman Catholic layman in the country. No, that went to a gentleman who had contributed a prodigious amount of money in the last campaign: thus it seems ever to have been.

There is little we can do to thank Henry Hyde for his generous service which has turned him from a dark-haired wonder of a speaker and lawmaker to a white-haired patriarch who journeys to the House floor in a wheel-chair. As a white haired one myself I thought the other day that there is a very little something I can do and that is to rank his photograph on my blog—allowing myself the ego trip of being shown with him. I know many if not most of you will join me in wishing the very best of health and continued service in other fields to the distinguished and venerable chairman of the House International Affairs committee. Think of his selfless service whenever you see his visage on this blog.

Birkett and Noonan on Political Shootout Sunday

Joe Birkett, DuPage states’ attorney and a candidate for Lieutenant Governor running with Judy Baar Topinka, and Mike Noonan, Democratic strategist and campaign manager for Lisa Madigan, who defeated Birkett for AG last time, will be guests on my Political Shootout Sunday radio talk show starting at 8 p.m. on WLS (890 AM). (Note: the City Club hasn’t finished booking candidates for the GOP lieutenant governor debate and I’ll let you know when it does).

Thursday, January 19, 2006

It was Winter 1958 at the Longworth House Office Building

Then, as there were only two House Office Buildings, it was known as the “new” one—but it wasn’t very new, built in 1935. I landed there after managing communications in a very, very close special congressional election in Minnesota in the dead of winter. Things were at a low ebb for Republicans, let me tell you, in that state dominated by Hubert Humphrey and his hand-picked governor, Orville Freeman. We had to run in the southeastern sector of the state, dairy farm country, where, on Christmas Eve, 1957 as we were stumping, Ike’s secretary of agriculture, Ezra Taft Benson announced he was slashing dairy supports. Humphrey campaigned against us, singing out a song of vituperation: “Ike likes his prices flexible, Ike likes `em limp, even if the farmers gotta starve and scrimp!”

We were running a dairy farmer which is probably the only reason we won—by the narrowest margin in the district’s history: 411 votes. So my green congressman and I (a green press secretary) arrived in the House to take possession of suite 1218 in the “new” H.O.B. Some fairly big names were on our floor including Gerald R. Ford, Republican of Michigan, who was on defense appropriations. A few weeks later we were rolling out the press and media (using the House’s special TV studio in the basement). That’s where I got to meet another staffer, somewhat younger than I. It interested both of us that we were from Illinois—me working for a Minnesota congressman and he for an Ohio one (David Dennison). Once in a while we’d have coffee. Then one day he popped in and said he was going back to Illinois. Why? He grinned. Believe it or not I’m gonna run for Congress. Really? What district? The 13th, Evanston, Wilmette which circles around to Schaumburg. But, he said, I’m really leaving because I want to get in investment banking. I said: what do you mean?

He said: I don’t have a chance in hell of getting the nomination. The congresswoman, Marguerite Stitt Church, is retiring and she’s already picked her favorite for the Republican primary which is tantamount to election. I’m going back to file and after I lose I’ll get a job maybe at William Blair. He shot me a grin that since has become world-famous and left.

Mrs. Church’s designated hitter was a banker named Marion Berkes, a man despite the name Marion. A vice president, solid with civic credentials and philanthropy, he had a touch of grey hair that fit the district. There would be no other Republican running except this guy who worked across the hall from me. Well, the ex-staffer started to run and nobody cared. Until one day one of those white collar scandals broke about Marion Berkes that was fairly minor but could become major. Then suddenly he resigned from the race. Only one other Republican remained. The 13th district “A List” of donors decided to examine this ex-staffer along with Mrs. Church. They concluded: not bad. Young, an ex-Navy pilot, a Princeton grad, a wrestler. Married, born in the district. And so they got behind him. And that fall Don Rumsfeld went to Congress.

By the time he came back looking for an office suite of his own, I was back in Minnesota with a new governor. And a few years later when I would come calling, working for Quaker Oats, Rumsfeld had become associated with a group known as the “young Turks” who were displeased with the plodding, alcoholic leadership given Republicans in the House by Charlie Halleck. Rummy hung around with the self-same Jerry Ford who had been on our floor. He ran the putsch; they beat Charlie and installed Ford as minority leader. In one miscalculation, Rumsfeld decided to go after Les Arends, too. He was an old bull from Illinois who had been the GOP whip since the 1940s. The effort to unhorse Arends failed and Arends came over to Rumsfeld after the vote and said quietly that he would never forget the fact that a young Illinoisan had tried to defeat him—would never forget it. He stretched out the words so they had a quiet ring to them: I’ll-never-forget-it. Those words meant something to Don. They meant that he had better start looking around for something else to do because being on the wrong side of the Republican whip wasn’t conducive to career growth in the House of that day. By 1969 with Nixon in, Rumsfeld signed up as, of all things, head of the OEO (Office of Economic Opportunity), the old War on Poverty office that had been run by Sargent Shriver.

We both landed with the administration in not widely divergent kinds of work, me starting the Commerce department’s Minority Enterprise unit. “It’s best for both of us that we learn what we have to learn and depart” he said one day, giving me an initial grant to work with. How right he was. I learned the hard way, tossed out on my ear after a dispute with the Nixonians before going to the Peace Corps and then back to Quaker; he hanging around, wangling the price control job and then a diplomatic job (Ambassador to NATO) which took him out of the country during the 1972 campaign and back to Washington when Jerry Ford became president and decided he needed Rummy as chief of staff. Then he convinced Ford to ditch Nelson Rockefeller and became the youngest secretary of defense in U.S. history. Following which he came back to Illinois and we met when he wanted to run for governor and gave me a frown when I told him one Jim Thompson had it all wrapped up. He consoled himself by running G. D. Searle and then another big company, doing spot jobs for Reagan but was limited because he wasn’t getting on well with Reagan’s vice president, George H. W. Bush.

The last time I talked to him at any length was when I had retired from Quaker and was teaching at Roosevelt University part-time. He agreed to be a guest speaker. We rode over in a cab. What’s new? I asked. Nothing, he said. Nothing. He gave me that grin and said we’re survivors. You more than me, Don—but, yeah, I guess so. Two weeks later he was named the oldest secretary of defense in U.S. history by George W. Bush.

Roskam for Wanderer

Peter Roskam
[Here’s another article on the 6th district Congressional race to replace Henry Hyde appearing in this week’s The Wanderer which, as you know by now, is the oldest national Catholic weekly in the U.S.]

CHICAGO—The man who seeks to succeed Henry J. Hyde in Congress could have a tough battle against a female Democratic legless Iraq war veteran this November when the war will be an issue, but State Sen. Peter Roskam [R-Wheaton] is confident he can win. Roskam, 44, is Hyde’s personal pick for his successor, having worked for the legendary Congressman in Washington, and for years the prime go-to state lawmaker for conservative social legislation. He is probably the best known pro-lifer, supporter of traditional marriage and foe of embryonic stem cell experimentation in the legislature. Like Hyde who is chairman of International Affairs and former Judiciary chairman, Roskam is eloquent, fearless on social issues, witty in presentation and hugely popular with many colleagues on both sides of the aisle.

Also like his mentor, he is not afraid to link his views with deep-rooted positions on moral issues. Small wonder since Roskam worked for Hyde when the masterful lawmaker developed his most famous imagery in defense of life. Roskam was there when the veteran congressman explained his concern for unborn life this way: “Have you ever wondered why, when you go up in an elevator and you rise above floors 10, 11 and 12 you go right to 14? You ask where is floor 13? It’s there, make no mistake but it’s not listed because the world wants you to ignore that the floor exists. That’s the way it is with God’s precious unborn children: the world doesn’t mention them directly. They’re called fetuses, almost like tumors or an appendix. They’re the unnamed target, the world says, of `a woman’s right to choose.’ To choose what? The answer is unborn children but they’re not named. Of all the discriminated against minorities, they are the least respected. They don’t have votes; they don’t have constituencies as do even the snail darter or antelopes in Alaska. They are signaled as enemies of convenience and so-called `reproductive freedom.’ That’s the group whom I rise to defend today.”

The House, engrossed with its own machinations, would nevertheless hush when Hyde would make his addresses from the well of the chamber. And he would conclude: “All of us who serve the cause of this unrepresented minority commit sin and make our petty alliances all the time. But there is before me the vision that is shared by all pro-lifers, that some day when we go before the Just Judge to answer for my life, to atone for our omissions and commissions, and just when it will seem like there is no one to defend us, there will come the sweet chorus of praise from the voices of the unborn stilled by murder who will petition Almighty God for tolerance in our behalf.”

The speech, matchless in eloquence and delivery, usually convinced a motley collection of Congressmen, a mixture of pro-life believers with a smattering of pro-choice Democrats to cast votes for the Hyde amendment to defend the unborn from Medicaid abortion. Even in a heavily Democratic House, Hyde would carry the day. Roskam was with Hyde when that eloquent speech was prepared and delivered and when the votes were secured.

Reared in the suburban area he represents, Roskam seeks to represent a district that includes O’Hare International Airport (named in typical Chicago style for a dead World War II Medal of Honor airman who got a military appointment from the feds after his father was gunned down following his turning states evidence against Al Capone). A lawyer, in partnership with Al Salvi, the first opponent to Durbin, Roskam is a member of the Anglican Mission of America, a group led by a traditionalist bishop in Africa, formed out of dissatisfaction with the liberal-leaning U. S. Episcopal church. He taught at an Episcopalian high school in the Virgin Islands for a year, served on Hyde’s staff, returned to the Illinois, got a law degree and was elected to the state House of Representatives. Then he went to the state Senate. He is married with four children.

Roskam’s district is high income territory but is also less Republican, less conservative and more socially liberal than it was previously. The district gave George W. Bush 53 percent in 2004 and Hyde 56 percent, polls showing that Hyde took an estimated 5 percent loss due to dissatisfaction of some voters with his role as Judiciary chairman which impeached Bill Clinton. Hyde took on the assignment, knowing that there would be personal as well as political retaliation, crafted from Clinton staffers including then White House political director Rahm Emanuel. Their punishment cost him dearly in a district with median income of $62,000 and is 12.5 percent Hispanic and 8.1 percent Asian.

An indefatigable campaigner, Roskam has been knocking on thousands of doors in the 663,000-plus district and has raised more than $1 million for his campaign. Like Hyde who sought his first term in 1974, in midst of the Watergate scandal and Richard Nixon’s resignation, Roskam is facing what might be called a time of testing. Hyde ran against Ed Hanrahan, a pro-life Democrat, former U.S.attorney and states attorney in another district that was usually warmly supportive of Irish Catholic Democrats in 1974. Democrats were supposed to win that contest and Hyde was one of the very few new Republicans to win that year. Similarly, Roskam now seems to run against odds piled on him by a fellow Illinoisan who sees his own advantage in scooping up for the Democrats a district which normally could be expected to elect Roskam who, like Hyde, can generate fervent support for moral values.

To capture Hyde’s district, Cong. Rahm Emanuel (D-IL), the Democratic campaign chairman of the House is literally betting the House against Roskam. Emanuel, whom I’ve known since he was a lowly fund-raising staffer, has had a meteoric rise: from a staff job raising money for Mayor Richard Daley to a White House spinner of media answers to cover Bill Clinton’s sex scandal, to friendship with near billionaire ex-treasury secretary Robert Rubin to becoming a multi-millionaire as a private investment banker through Rubin’s help, without a day’s previous experience in corporate finance. He topped this by virtually buying the lavishly generated congressional seat once represented by Dan Rostenkowski, becoming a junior deal-cutter on Ways and Means and snatching the chairmanship of the Democratic party’s campaign committee which has national financial resources.

Ditching the regular Democratic candidate in the district that ran the closest race to Hyde in twenty years, Emanuel is convinced that no ordinary Democrat can beat Roskam. With Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL), the Catholic one-time pro-lifer who rose above principle to become pro-abort, Emanuel personally recruited Tammy Duckworth, 37, a 14-year National Guard soldier and multiple amputee who lost her legs as an Illinois National Guard helicopter pilot when her Black Hawk was shot down near Baghdad in November, 2004. Emanuel has compiled one significant win in Illinois. He personally recruited the woman who defeated one of conservatism’s most knowledgeable House members, pro-lifer Cong. Philip Crane (R-IL), a one-time presidential candidate. Emanuel’s own personal stake in this campaign is clear: he wants to take out a Republican candidate who is as articulate as Hyde and use that victory to de-legitimize pro-life as a viable campaign issue across the country.

After that, Emanuel (whom I’ve known, at one time closely as a fellow radio panelist 20 years ago) wants to leverage himself to become the next Democratic leader of the House whenever Nancy Pelosi, 65, the current ultra-liberal pro-abort Catholic, packs it in as result of criticism for her often hyperbolic language stemming from her exotic San Francisco origins. After becoming Democratic leader, Emanuel wants to build a Democratic majority and graduate to Speaker. Nor does he want to stop there.

To achieve these goals, the slight, 46-year-old married, ex-ballet dancer who is as intense and as cuddly as a coiled spring, seeks to find more candidates who can evoke warmth, sympathy and favorable media coverage. Normally it would be wise to downplay social liberalism in a Republican district but Emanuel believes that with Duckworth he can get her elected with a stridently liberal platform. To get the job done he has retained veteran liberal Democratic consultant David Axelrod to do her TV. Axelrod does not come instantly to mind when one considers winning for a Democrat in Republican-leaning district. The major consultant for Mayor Richard Daley, he is a hard-edged liberal meat and potatoes guy. Indeed, Emanuel and Axelrod may be too high a liberal octane. Especially Emanuel. In his zeal, he occasionally over-reaches as will be shown later in this report.

Democrats nationally believe Duckworth can put them on the side of patriotism and flag-flying to offset the damage Durbin incompetently did by linking American troops guarding terrorists to followers of Pol Pot and Adolf Hitler. Emanuel, with buckets of money derived from his eastern banker contacts, has canvassed military hospitals in signature gestures of compassion while seeking wounded veterans as Democratic candidates for Congress to nullify his party’s frequent flirtations with forces that often call the U.S. an evil aggressor.

In Duckworth, Emanuel believes he has outdone himself. Not only is she a severely wounded veteran but of Hawaiian descent (which could appeal to Asians in the district), she has a bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of Hawaii, a master’s in international affairs from George Washington University in Washington, D. C. and was working on a doctorate in political science at a suburban Chicago university when she was deployed. She is not, interestingly enough, a resident of the district she wants to serve which doesn’t bother Emanuel much since the Constitution only stipulates one be a resident of the state. Were anyone to point this out, Emanuel very likely would charge them with insensitivity to the plight of a wounded female veteran who has already re-modeled her house so as to make it easier to gain access and for whom moving to the district could be inconvenient. Who will question this?

Emanuel has crafted for Duckworth what he believes will be a winning issue format. While she has received a medical discharge from the service, since Emanuel took her under his wing, Duckworth has announced that she will stay in the Illinois National Guard and would be one of about a half dozen members of Congress serving in the Guard. Her life experience can be used for her trade policy: Her husband worked at two companies that outsourced jobs to other countries, prompting her to advocate a mildly protectionist stance.

Now comes what Emanuel believes is the coup de grace. She goes hard left on social policy. She is not only pro-abort but even opposes parental notification for minors seeking abortions. Opposing parental notification is a bummer in the district and represents an extreme position, but Emanuel needs to placate the district’s small but potent liberal Democratic base in order to neutralize Duckworth’s primary opponent, Christine Cegalis who sounds not unlike Democratic national chairman Howard Dean. Duckworth also supports embryonic stem cell research which, at Emanuel’s direction, she blurs into plain “stem cell” research. Bearing the imprint of her political Svengali, Duckworth talks blandly of not “substituting government for family when it comes to making personal medical decisions”—a coded reference to Terri Schiavo, another appeal to a base which hated the Schiavo intervention.

On the issue of Iraq, Duckworth has changed under Emanuel’s guidance. When Duckworth first came home on medical leave and before she became a candidate, she defended the Iraq war and said she was ready to return to pilot helicopters. This stance Emanuel has pruned to a support for the troops but also vocal criticism of the war, something Duckworth had not said earlier.

Now as to over-reaching. Emanuel believes in exerting maximum leverage in behalf of increased health care. Duckworth says in her literature: “I’ve been so fortunate to have received the best health care possible for me to overcome my war injuries.” So far so good—but then she coyly employs a device that sounds like Emanuel rather than herself. “But when I’m out in public, people come up to ask me about my prosthetic legs and how they can assist a relative who has lost a leg to diabetes.”

Question: Can you imagine that you or anyone you know would go up to a legless war veteran, point at her metal stick legs and ask how a diabetic relative can get so equipped with a prosthesis? The response should evoke the old Chicago saying, “give me a break!” It is vintage Emanuel to whom there is no lightness, just the clenched fist raw partisanship that fits tough Chicago wards. There is no modulating pedal for Emanuel as some of his other candidates learned to their discomfiture.

Thus applying a 100 percent Emanuel strategy, Duckworth could jeopardize her campaign in a district which has a decent regard for free-market solutions, not 100 percent federalized health care. Against Duckworth and Emanuel, Roskam is confident he can triumph. For a full list of his positions on the issues, go to his web-site at www.roskamforcongress.com. Contributions (only personal checks) should be sent to Roskam for Congress, 423 West Wesley, Wheaton, Illinois 60187.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Kathy Salvi’s Brother In Law Goes After Me. Calling Me Stupid is One Thing. But—Can You Imagine?—He Calls Me Fat!

In an encyclical to the Salvi troops, the candidate’s brother-in-law (so I am informed), Joe Wheeler of Pro-Life Victory PAC has sent a mass avalanche of e-mails which says, in full:
Is this the same Roeser who calls Jack Franks pro-life? I remember the same vile this voluminous man spouted on his small-minded talk show when he scandalized aTom Salvi as a pro-abort. lThe column only proves one of two things: his hatred for the Salvi family is as large as his waste [sic] line and/or his political opinions are guided more by friends he dines with than the temporary convictions he keeps. Tom Roeser is an excellent enemy ineither regard as his small following attests to. His traditionalist values are of the same tradition as the “country club Republicans” who have driven the Republican party so low in Illinois. The more men like Roeser speak the more I realize the need for a good person to sacrifice for the “common good” because they know what is “commonly good by experience,” the family [sic]. Tom might have missed this at Loyola but he probably missed a lot about the great women in politics. Perhaps he was a mommy’s boy and doesn’t understand that a hard working mommy can’t be home to feed Tommy cookies all day. As such he certainly holds similar contempt for all hard working single moms and dual income breadwinners. For me, the only enablers are the people who listen to Tom Roeser. Fortunately, the few enablers he has left have reduced his opinion’s popularity to the point of disability [sic].

(p.s. I get insulted at such suggestions that people with children cannot morally sacrifice for the common good. Perhaps I and my wife should just sit by and watch merely because we have 5 children. No, my wife and I do better at both than most and I am certain Kathy can too. That’s why I support her and so should the rest of the Pro-life community.!) Joe Wheeler, Pro-Life Victory PAC


I’m cutting this off now so I can waddle to the kitchen and ask my mommy to give me more cookies and milk.