Friday, January 13, 2006

WithLove from Lynn Sweet: Another Prize-Winner, Tying Political Donations and Lobbyists to Roskam, Abramoff, DeLay

Through the years I’ve become a pretty good (if I say so myself) analyst of the journalistic motivations of the Sun-Times’ Lynn Sweet, its Washington correspondent who is seemingly everywhere 24-7 to do service to the party and ideology she so passionately espouses. She fits the bill brilliantly for what has determined to be the Democratic newspaper of Chicago. In fact, if the cutbacks over there continue, the S-T might consider not paying her at all, confident that her ardor for liberaldom is such that she would gladly do it for nothing if she can continue to have the full sway she has enjoyed heretofore. She is indeed the selfless secular saint, let us say the Mother Teresa of the Democratic party where her busy mind works daily in its behalf with only modest reward monetarily but the satisfaction that comes when another broadside is published, either as “straight news” or analysis—or, as is usual, an admixture.

Yesterday, Ms. Sweet did an interview with former Republican U.S. Congressman Michael Flanagan who is now a lobbyist. Strange she picked him. Flanagan must have wondered why he won recognition from Sweet now which he never enjoyed in his two years in the House. But Flanagan is a Republican. Flanagan defeated Dan Rostenkowski and served only one term, being replaced by Rod Blagojevich and now Rahm Emanuel. Emanuel, the House Democratic campaign committee chairman and former lobbyist, has a full rolodex of lobbyist names and fund-raising support they provided. Rostenkowski is a big-shoulders lobbyist to this day. But no, it’s to little fish Mike Flanagan she went.

Why? Because Flanagan got a phone call from the campaign manager for Peter Roskam, the 6th district GOP candidate. This is the basis of Sweet’s plaintive call for lobbyist reform. There’s a winning profile to be done for the Democratic party. Roskam’s campaign manager had asked Flanagan to raise money in Washington. Nothing wrong with that but that’s not the point. It intrigues Sweet that here is a spin she can devise for use against Republicans.

Working delicately with her surgical finesse, she produced an article that is a masterpiece. Not since Joe McCarthy adroitly cropped photos of Millard Tydings and Earl Browder so they appeared to be conversing has the art of guilt by association been so skillfully portrayed. With nary a mention of the constitutional protection for redress of grievance or that Democrats have lobbyists and raise money, too, the article flows unvexed to a sea of notorious Republican names: Abramoff, DeLay, I am surprised she didn’t work in Boss Tweed and Teapot Dome. The article is done with such tongue-in-cheek feigned innocence that it is brilliantly suitable for reproduction in the literature of Tammy Duckworth or Christine Cegalis, feminists rooted for by Sweet, who are vying to oppose Roskam. It is a powerful reminder of robust, thumb-in-the-eye journalism as it once existed in the days when newspapers proudly demonstrated their partisanship. Thus once again to Lynn Sweet, I raise my glass, tilted leftward and salute.

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