Sundays Political Shootout on WLS-AM (890) was extraordinarily good if I say so myself due to the contributions of the two guestsSteve 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 dont know if any major TV station is in the market for a political reporter but they couldnt 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 Madigans 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 bitchyand I dont 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 theyif they winthey will have to pick up the marbles and urge unity. For one thing, whomever is doing the Topinka Tattler should can it, desist: its bitterly derisive and divisive, not funny and sophomoric. Bill Brady can be better served by stowing the lineused in two debates, nowthat Jim Oberweis solution to immigration is rounding all the illegals up by helicopter and stashing them in Soldier Field. Thats not what Oberweis said in an earlier commercial that he has already disowned. Ron Gidwitzs 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 Hallstuff that is pointed, journalistically sharp and thoroughly mature and probing. Abdon Pallasch who covers the courts is superband 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 Im 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. Ill have more to say about certain straight news stars who are under-pushed by their newspaper later
Edwin Eisendrath is running like a dry creekthis not because he isnt saying interesting things but because he has been unwillingor his rich surrogates are unwillingto back his candidacy with cash. The feeble attempts at TV commercials arent 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 whos ripe for the picking after casting opprobrium on the troops in Iraq and whos been desperately trying to salvage himself. Social conservatives like me would prefer one of our number rather than Kirkbut 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 dont carry broad-mindedness too far. Ms. Topinkas quick ratification of Gov. Blagojevichs stand on over-the-counter birth control pills shows that she has determined to wipe clean most thoughts of rapprochement if she wins the primarywhich, 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, wasnt it Obama who said the other day that the attempt to filibuster Sam Alito was foolhardy, wouldnt 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, hed better conform. Upshot: Obama voted against cloture and in favor of the filibuster. We knew Dick Durbin and Axelrod could count on you, Barack.