Tuesday, January 24, 2006
Birkett and Noonan: A Rapid-Fire Team Emphasizing the Best in Bipartisanship
The Joe Birkett-Mike Noonan team on Sundays 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 candidatebecause 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 governorbut 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 Birketts ease in melding his experience with Topinkas, 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 argumentbut time has passed on that issue: indeed, it has grown whiskers. Birketts 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 alongindeed, 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. Its always a good day for me when Noonan agrees to be on the show. Now that we wont be hearing any more from the Bears for a year, I plan to have him hold up the liberal end quite often.