The Sun-Times Lynn Sweet writes in the papers blog today that hustling to cover a Democratic news conference, she inadvertently bumped into Rep. Henry Hyde. That figures
Somebody wrote a story in the Sun-Times about how inept some Illinois Republican businessmen are in politics. He listed Jim Oberweis and Jack Ryan, making an exception for Peter Fitzgerald because Fitzgerald had experience, having served in the state Senate.
His point was that Fitzgerald had learned to sublimate social issues and run as a moderate. But thats not the way it was. Fitzgerald ran as a pro-lifer and opposed special legislation for gay rights against Loleta Didrikson who was then the state comptroller; he was for the assault weapon ban and the Brady bill.
Didrikson had the backing of the establishment including Gov. George Ryan and was a solid pro-choicer. What turned the primary election was the City Club-WTTW-TV debate (the same one that Judy Baar Topinka is avoiding now). In the debate, Didrikson was asked by moderator John Callaway whether or not she would countenance pornography on the internet. The state librarians association opposed any limits being put on the machines in the libraries. That was as strong a conservative social issue as there was.
When asked the question, she laughed in derision which prompted Callaway to ask her what was funny. She turned serious and took the so-called moderate position, saying she would not interfere with freedom of thought. Fitzgerald answered the question by saying children should be protected from pornography and slammed the ball out of the park. It marked the turning point in the primary campaign for Fitzgerald and a presumably softball questionwill you oppose pornography for childrendid it. Thus a key social issue was the determining one in a debate just before the primary.
Which leads one to suspect that Judy Baar Topinka may want to prevent a similar episode happening to her. And given her propensity for gaffes like calling some of her Republican opponents morons, she may be right! While his state Senate experience didnt necessarily govern Fitzgeralds answer (it was a no-brainer, actually) the fact is that history is full of businessmen who were elected without prior governmental experience. Mitt Romney, a very successful businessman, is regarded as an outstanding Republican governor of Democratic Massachusetts and is a presidential contender. No prior elective experience. His father, George, was a tremendously effective governor of Michigan and a presidential contender. No prior elective experience. Chuck Percy was a stand-out entrepreneur who put Bell & Howell on the map, served in the Senate for three terms, ending up as chairman of Foreign Relations. No prior elective experience. And of course George W. Bush the only president with an MBA was elected governor of Texas with no prior elective experience
It is incredibly comedic that politically correct Gov. Rod Blagojevich whose liberal interest group pandering is legend resurrected a long dormant nebulous anti-Hate commission just in time for his reelection and has managed to get everybody hating each other and especially him. He named a follower of, what does he call himself (?) the Honorable, Very Honorable and Super-Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan to the commission only to find out she wont contradict Farrakhan in his attacks on Jews and gays. Five Jews have quit, whereupon Rod has to try mollifying them but on the other hand mollifying the Muslim without alienating either. Then the gays and lesbians started after Rod because Farrakhan has criticized them. So he manages a compromise: condemning Farrakhan for hatred, allowing the Muslim woman to stay because he wouldnt condemn her by association, although she wont disavow Farrakhans views. Oh, it belongs on Comedy Central except liberal Jon Stewart wouldnt think it funny
There is no doubt that the Bush administration, long regarded as adroit politically, is suffering from combat fatigue and needs reinforcements. The ports issue was mishandled from the outset. That a sub-sub cabinet group allowed the UAE to managenot take overthe ports was o.k. but that respective cabinet officers like Rumsfeld didnt learn of it was stunning. Then Bush hunkering down, saying trust me when he had a far-from-perfect record (WMD, Katrina and Miers). Following which he said hed veto the Congressional legislative rejoinder (when he hadnt vetoed anything whafsoever including massive spending bills, the abortive McCain-Feingold bill et al) which enabled him to lose for a time the best issue he hasnational security.
The shockingand I mean shockingineptitude is the White Houses inability to frame a satisfactory argument in its own behalf. The favorable resolution of the issue by the UAE doesnt totally evaporate the botched handling of it. The UAE is upset, Bush has jeopardized a major issue. In this second term, conservatives dont have much of a say on many things. Bush, Cheney, Rice and Rumsfeld are quality conservatives but they weigh in only on foreign-defense. I am thinking of that bloated ex-c.e.o. palooka Snow in Treasury, the gaunt advance man for a famine at Homeland Security. Bush better stop worrying about the elections this November which he cant affect much anyhow and continue to make a goodI say outstandingrecord of the presidency in foreign affairs. What it tells me is that Bush cant get beyond the very tired troops he had from the first term, failing to recognize that Bill Clintons best staff choice was Mike McCurrie who wasnt for him in the presidential sweepstakes of 1992