Friday, February 17, 2006

Roundtable of 6 at Springfield Steak House on the Governorship.

Whenever I get to Springfield we convene the Roundtable of 5 at a local steak house to discuss politics. This week’s Gang consisted of a (1) a prominent Democratic state Rep who has proved his electoral strength by winning consistently in a GOP suburb, (2) a bright and thoroughly knowledgeable Democratic operative, lobbyist and former top campaign manager, regarded as one of the brightest lights in the party; (3) an African American active in civic affairs, (4) a Republican staffer known as an exceedingly adept strategist in his party, (5) a libertarian known for issuing a pox on both parties —and (6): me, bringing up the historical allusions which happened long before any of my partners were born and whose tales of years past put everyone to sleep. Average age of the group was in the 50s but that’s only because I am factored in, which tipped it way over. Without me: in the late 30s.

Surprisingly, there was some consensus—but some dissents, too. The Roundtable will be nameless.

Most of the Roundtable felt the Blagojevich speech was an outstanding example of partisan pyrotechnics which gave an insight into how the governor will run his campaign. The lobbyist felt it was so-so, the only one to have that view.

Asked to put on strategists’ hats to deduce a strategy against the governor, all of them felt it is folly to concentrate on attacking the governor’s budget from a green-eyeshade basis because the goodies contained therein are desired by many of the voters—but that the better strategy should be to ignore the goodies and zero in on corruption.

All with one exception—me—felt that Topinka will be nominated and has the best chance of being Blagojevich. I don’t and believe the best race that could be run would be by Oberweis. They saw great dividends for Topinka to pull Democrats into her camp; I saw a more than equal disadvantage by her losing much of the conservative base.

All of them felt the Gidwitz ad as devastating but I hadn’t seen it then—although many didn’t see Gidwitz as benefiting particularly but severely wounding her. Now that I’ve seen it, I agree. I see the Gidwitz ad as also shoring him up in the public mind as a conservative (which he isn’t: pro-choice, pro-gay rights, anti-Bush on the war). As a matter of fact, if he continues the onslaught, I see him rising in the polls and getting a bigger share of the conservative chunk. The libertarian, who admires Gidwitz’s positions, sees him gaining rapidly if the ads are continued.

All of us believe that pound-for-pound Bill Brady would be the best candidate because he is fresh, young attractive. But all of us feel that because he has not gotten the money, he will not be a decisive factor in the race with the exception of possibly wearing the collar if Oberweis fails to get the nomination, and thus dooming him in the future ala Pat O’Malley. His attacks on Oberweis are solidifying that impression.

All of us believe that Eisendrath has either missed the train or is about to miss the train which is even now pulling out of the station. I cited the folly of his step-father thumping his chest and saying, “That’s my boy!” when he’s too tight to plunk down the money that, by the size of his fortune, would be pocket change. Lay it to the idealism of some of the liberals who pay their dues to Common Cause, read the New York Review of Books and are usually in Aspen on election day, forgetting to have voted absentee.

Almost all of us—the state Rep being the exception—see that the Republican party must find an unconventional presidential candidate for 2008, the same faces of Senators—Allen et al—not being sufficient. At the CPAC Summit, Allen, regarded by so many conservatives as a favorite, laid a bomb; the one who didn’t is the one who had earlier been touted as a loser: Bill Frist. I threw out two unconventional names, Rice and Guiliani. Of the two, they enthused about Guiliani, one of the group—a Democrat—saying he would very likely vote for him—a big surprise. Another Democrat pointed out that in contrast to the SuperBowl coverage Giuliani has received, especially from the definitive book on his life, Fred Siegel’s Prince of the City, another book, 100 Minutes which details what happened on 9/11 shows that Giuliani’s reputation is hype and that actually he failed on that day (a surprise to me, but I haven’t read the book). No one particularly jumped on board Condeleeza Rice, figuring that she will not run anyhow.

All of us felt that the dark horse presidential candidacy of John Cox is likely to go somewhere—somewhere distinctly below the ranking of another Cox, James M. who ran for president against Harding in 1920 and about on a par with Lar Daly, with the notation that at least Lar Daly had an Uncle Sam suit. What was unusual was that everywhere Cox went at the CPAC Summit he was surrounded by security guards, who were ordered to take one for the candidate. Privately hired security guards, no less. We discussed how sick Cox must be to pay for this and decided that since he has the money to invest and has the conviction to do so, he is at least better than Eisendrath’s step-father.

Everybody ate steak except me—I had chicken.


  1. Guilliani and Rice do seem like the type of candidates that could do very well. But there one other woman who I could see jumping in and doing quite well in the primary. Jodi Rell, the governor of Connecticut, has an unbelievable approval rating for a Republican in such a state as Connecticut. She seems very fair minded, and if she decided to run, could take a large amount of women votes in the primary.

  2. I would be enthusiastic with both; but especially Rice.

    I don't think Topinka can beet Blagojevich. The Gidwitz ad convinced me of that. It'll be a tragedy for Illinois, and the Illinois GOP if that's what happens.

    We need an unconventional candidate here too.