Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Personal Asides: New York Post Says I’m for Giuliani: Right—But Not for Long Unless He Changes…The Trib Ought to Get With it on Race…Hastert Ought to Get With it On Searches…Neil Steinberg: Did He Forget to Tell You He’s for Abortion Rights?


The Post.

The New York Post political columnist Ryan Sager reported yesterday that I’m for Rudy Giuliani, listing me as “Mr. Conservative” in Illinois, talk show host and blogger, saying that I would go along if Rudy would moderate his social policy positions somewhat. There’s no “Mr. Conservative” in Illinois: just check around; we’re all different. Nor am I boilerplate. Rudy would be my first choice if he adjusts a change, not impossible or improbable in presidential politics. But if he does not, I’m prepared to go with another guy who has some baggage personally, Newt Gingrich because he has a Churchillian elegance. Rudy, however, has the winning charisma basis his heroism in New York that is requisite to win the presidency and I’d like to be for him. If he’d change.


The Tribune’s Clarence Page is a longtime friend and ex-sparring partner who on the day he won his Pulitzer came over to a fund-raiser where I was being roasted and added to the flames: good guy. Clarence is now in Washington where he is being wasted because he is assigned to write only on African American topics whereas the day of specialization…black columnists to tell us how it feels to be black etc…is long over. In fact, his assignment is a residue of old-time racism. What’s more archaic than to have a few blacks writing about the misery of their condition ala the Sixties? We can’t expect the Trib to catch up with the 21st century when most Old Media have not, but it is to be hoped that it would be pretty soon. Page should be writing about any number of topics and not just being the “black writer” in a white shoe paper.

Page writes a column about what he would tell the NAACP were he Bush. I think that were I Bush I certainly wouldn’t have apologized as Bush did. Sometimes in an effort to woo respect, Bush gets too craven (although he is still the best president in my lifetime). Bush said, as you will recall, that the Republican party has much to regret in its dealings with African Americans. Really? While the GOP was founded to sunder slavery and racism it was the southern Democrats who held the committee chairmanships that blocked progress. When I went to Washington as a staffer in 1958 civil rights had been held up for decades because of southern Democratic control of key committees—“Judge” Howard Smith of Virginia, chairman of Rules in the House (along with the second in command, Bill Colmer of Mississippi who succeeded Smith as chairman)…Sen. Harry Flood Byrd of Virginia, chairman of Finance but who had powerful sway in how the Democrats ran the Senate…Richard Russell of Georgia…William Eastland, head of Judiciary…J. William Fulbright of Arkansas (liberal on other things: not race).

Such legislation as passed was done by the adroit salesmanship and diplomacy of Everett Dirksen of Illinois who was the conduit between the South and the Senate progressives when major legislation was passed including in the era of LBJ when even that masterly Texas wire-puller had to rely on Dirksen for help with the South—for which Dirksen got no credit and few black votes whenever he ran. The myth that Republicans overshadow southern Democrats on race matters should be dissipated. But it never can so long as people like George W. Bush go to the NAACP and foster that misconception.


News that Denny Hastert is persisting in challenging a judge’s order allowing FBI agents to examine documents that were seized at a Louisiana Congressman’s Hill office safe is discouraging in that it presumes that members of Congress are more privileged people than others. The idea that there is a rupture of separation of powers by this probe shows that after serving a couple of terms as Speaker, Hastert believes he belongs to an elite class that is above the law. He should get over it—or comes the next election he won’t be so privileged: starting off as Minority Leader and after that maybe Mr. Private Citizen. The anomaly is that he is an inheritor of a Gingrich tradition that reflects the grassroots—but Denny Hastert is not good ol’ Denny the ex-wrestling coach. He has long been a charter member of the Combine. A former close friend of George Ryan, he sought to block Peter Fitzgerald’s effort to eradicate privilege and patronage from the Lincoln museum in Springfield…who wanted to steer the appointment of a prosecutor who would be friendly to the Ryan-Daley-Thompson-Edgar-Topinka combine. Yes: that man. And that man should watch it.


The way the Sun-Times plays it with its columnists, even one has a role to play to generate an all-round hip-ness. Mark Brown is the world-weary Royko type (without the wit but reflexively liberal),... Richard Roeper the young unmarried good-looking mod guy (albeit a little long in the tooth)…Debra Pickett the “with it” young smart girl with the know-it-all smirk (with the depth of a soda cracker)…and then we get to Neil Steinberg, the best writer of the lot of them; his job is to play the liberal sophisticate. But Steinberg has been growing somewhat conservative which runs against his sophisticate type so he has to apologize for it. Take the issue of the Cook county board presidency. Understandably he can’t take Todd Stroger who is a know-nothing but Steinberg can’t just say he’ll vote for Peraica and be done with it. That unalloyed comment could disillusion his liberal base. So he has to say he’s so turned off he’ll vote for Peraica. “I don’t care if he’s [Peraica’s] anti-abortion. I don’t care if he [Peraica] wants to bring back the Spanish Inquisition.” Ho-ho, that Steinberg is still hip because he has reaffirmed the cardinal Sun-Times tenet: abortion is its secular sacrament. Rest easy, Steinberg: you’re still in good paper with the publisher of the abortion paper.


  1. http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/columnists/chi-0607230318jul23,1,5433677.column?coll=chi-news-col

    Good piece as usual. Glad Bush returned to the fold for this one though he should have brought out his veto pen years ago.

  2. As Tony Snow pointed out (of course, Snow meant this to be a positive):

    Bill Clinton, as President, didn’t authorize any of these lines. This is a President who’s spent more money on embryonic stem cell research and stem cell research generally than any President in American history. He’s got the track record.


    This is a "pro-life" president?