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.


  1. So Durbin is "ripe for picking" for his 6/05 comments regarding camping in Cuba. Durbin's comments were not critical of the troops, but of the Bush administration's confusing policy regarding the treatment and status of detainees. (Read Durbin's comments in their entirety at http://durbin.senate.gov/gitmo.cfm .) If American soldiers were directly involved, I wouldn't be surprised to learn that they were acting in a manner they felt would win the approval of hired hand contractors who believe this administration has given them the authority to act beyond the scope of military regulation.

    "If I read this (a description of the treatment of detainees) to you and did not tell you that it was an FBI agent describing what Americans had done to prisoners in their control, you would most certainly believe this must have been done by Nazis, Soviets in their gulags, or some mad regime -- Pol Pot or others -- that had no concern for human beings. Sadly, that is not the case. This was the action of Americans in the treatment of their prisoners…...The Constitution is a law for this administration, equally in war and in peace. If the Constitution could withstand the Civil War, when our nation was literally divided against itself, surely it will withstand the war on terrorism."

  2. "If the Constitution could withstand the Civil War, when our nation was literally divided against itself, surely it will withstand the war on terrorism."

    But of course Abraham Lincoln suspended some Constitutional rights during the Civil War, and the Constitution did indeed survive.

    Anywho, we're all going to be reminded of his teary apology. The wuss.

  3. “In the end, I don't want anything that I may have said detract from the love for my country, my respect for those who bravely risk their lives each day for our security, and this Senate which I am so honored to serve as a member. I offer my apology for those offended by my words. I promise to speak out on the issues that I think are important to the people of Illinois and to the nation.”

    It's sad that Durbin felt he had to apologize for the offense others felt, especially when he said nothing offensive. The American intolerance for tears is far more embarrassing than tears. Laughter and, sometimes, anger are tolerable, but – excluding with the death of loved ones – can American leaders survive a public expression of emotion involving shedding of a tear?

    I understand American leaders often fall in love, too. Many even have families -- even children.

  4. It's really too bad that Barack is joining the flip-flopping among the left in D.C.