Friday, September 29, 2006

Personal Asides:

Tony Peraica and Russ Stewart on “Political Shootout” Sunday…States Attorney Dick Devine, Federal Judge Bill Bauer, to Speak at Roosevelt …Oprah-Daley Promo Leads “Sun-Times” Front Page As Experts Try to Stop Circulation Hemorrhage…Falwell and Robertson: a Heavy Burden for Evangelicals.


Tony Peraica, fresh from an encounter with the energized anti-right wing devil exorcist Todd Stroger, will be on my WLS-AM “Political Shootout” Sunday along with Nadig newspaper commentator and prescient news analyst Russ Stewart. Peraica will seek to prove that he does not emit sulphur from his nostrils. And that he won’t sign legislation to force all women to conceive more and more children if he becomes county board president. Nor will he give a top job to Alan Keyes. Stewart, a noted wizard of electoral statistics will calculate a change from what initially looked like a Peraica defeat to the beginnings of a very slight chance Peraica can win. Question: can a Republican candidate with not-so-great funding capitalize on unparalleled county corruption to win? Stewart is one of the few who can chart the heavy odds.


Cook county states attorney Dick Devine, a popular Democrat, will be guest lecturer on my Roosevelt University political science course on Thursday, November 16th at 6 p.m. Devine was born on the North Side, one of five children of William Devine, a city employee and Helen, a housewife. He attended Loyola Academy, Loyola University where he received a degree in history and Northwestern University law school. He went to work for the city, became an executive assistant to Mayor Richard J. Daley. Three years later he left for private law practice; then in 1980 returned to public life as first assistant states’ attorney to then States Attorney Richard M. Daley.

After three years in law partnerships, Devine ran for state’s attorney in 1996 and scored what many saw as a surprise upset of Republican Jack O’Malley. He lives in the same north side neighborhood where he grew up with his wife Charlene. They have three sons and a daughter—including two high school teachers, a law student and a police officer. If you were to drop by Hoops, the gym on Chicago’s near West Side at noon any Monday, Wednesday or Friday you would see a group of middle-aged men playing basketball in the Windy City Senior Basketball League, one of which is the 59-year-old Devine. The states attorney will speak on state prosecutors and the Courts at 6 p.m. Thursday, November 16.

Another guest lecturer who will talk about prosecutors and the Courts from a wide perspective will be retired federal Circuit Court of Appeals Judge William Bauer, a candid, witty and no-holds-barred speaker who is famous for his memorable lectures on the circuit. Bill Bauer started off as the elected states attorney of DuPage…was named U. S. Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois where he hired Jim Thompson as his first assistant…ran the office that prosecuted Otto Kerner…after which Bauer was named a federal judge and then elevated to the Court of Appeals. We’re very lucky to have him speak to us on his many roles: elected state prosecutor, appointive federal prosecutor, appointive federal district judge and appointive circuit court of appeals judge. He will speak on Thursday. November 2 at 7 p.m.

Circulation Hemorrhage.

In an attempt to stanch its circulation hemorrhage, the “Sun-Times” under new editor Michael Cooke spun up yesterday as its front page story POWER LUNCH (aping the back sports page) featuring Oprah and Mayor Daley at pro-abort Hedy Ratner’s Women’s Business Development Center lunch. Ratner should pinch herself at her luck. It would have rated placement on page 57 behind the corset ads at any normal newspaper era. But John Barron didn’t give the paper enough oomph and now the crass sensationalist Michael Cooke will try.

In the story, Oprah, who earlier endorsed Barack Obama for president (wonder why?), told a pathetically groveling Rod Blagojevich that she is grateful for all he does (huh?). Inside the taste-debased paper, huge railroad gothic headlines proclaim juicy divorce stories and black exploitative sensational stories. The style is based on the New York “Daily News” format of sticking a little ginger under the editorial horse’s tail to purportedly promote style. Question: are Chicagoans truly so drugged by entertainment that they will not read newspapers—reacting like the people in Aldous Huxley’s novel “Brave New World” who only responded to sensations transmitted from screens known as “the feelies”? If so, God help us all.


I used to think Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson are getting bad press because they do not share mainstream media’s liberal preoccupations…but after meeting them both I have to say they are so medieval, laced with mindless staccato biblical quotes, that they richly deserve the opprobrium. When he was running for president, Robertson told me about a terrific storm that was headed for his mammoth television studio in Virginia Beach. He said he knelt down to pray and the storm detoured and took out a third of Front Royal. Anyone who believes God acts that way…that he is on such a wave-length with Almighty God…and that by force of his prayer can re-direct a storm to hit innocent people (God being convinced Robertson is worth more than they) is a nut-bar…which unfortunately threatens to hold all Protestant evangelicalism to be held in disrepute.

Likewise, the clownish Falwell, complete with pinky ring, who could easily be cast as Willy Loman in any second-rate theatrical production, brings cynicism to true evangelism. He recently said Hillary Clinton resembles the devil incarnate. When he spoke at the City Club 29 years ago, picketers showed up with “Down with Falwell” signs. They stirred up excitement. I thought they were rather illiterate leftists when they talked to me, and sure enough one told me they were hired by Falwell’s people to gin up media excitement. Suffice it to say he belongs in the same Jesus Jumper cadre as the late Amy Semple McPherson and the fictional Elmer Gantry…a disreputable stereotype which blackens all legit evangelical ministers. Robertson and Falwell are seldom mentioned—because they are an embarrassment—in the most impressive, classic evangelical Protestant publication in the country which I read every week, “World” magazine.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Personal Asides: The Awfulness of the New “Sun-Times” Makeup Courtesy of the Returned Michael Cooke the No-Taste Guy…Remember the Haymarket Center Dinner Dance…And Here’s to Jake Parrillo, Trustee!


Awful Makeover.

As you picked up your “Sun-Times” today you noticed the huge black headlines with the grace of railroad sign warnings…which tells you that the paper finally found something for its foundling Michael Cooke to do—screw up its appearance. Cooke is the guy who left amid much applause to take on the prestigious job of editor of the New York “Daily News”—only to be relieved…as the New York staff was itself relieved…by his removal not long afterward. Only to return like the bad penny. He is noted for his lack of gracefulness and sensational tabloid bluntness. And you saw the result today when his power kicked in and he can cook the stew to his liking. It’s one thing to be the Democratic party newspaper of record…and another to splash the makeup with such low taste as to rival the cheapest issue that can be found of the “National Enquirer.”


As a board member of Haymarket Center…the organization founded by Msgr. Ignatius McDermott to treat alcoholics and drug addicts…I am honor bound to keep reminding you of the group’s dinner dance which is the only fund-raiser on its calendar. It will be a sumptuous evening, really. It’ll be held on Tuesday, October 24 at Drury Lane, Oakbrook Terrace, reception at 6 p.m., dinner at 7 p.m. and dancing to the lovely strains of the Stanley Paul orchestra. Honorees will be members of the Chicago Police Department. For reservations call (312) 226-7984 extension 314 and tell them Tom Roeser wants you to get a good seat or table. Cost: $50 a seat, $500 a table. Come there and meet the entire group of a very worthwhile organization.

Jake’s Night Out.

The adroit webmeister of this Blog is a young man who’s doing a great job—for me and for all his clients: Jake Parrillo. Jake is a Frankfort Village Trustee and he’s up for reelection. He’s holding “Jake Parrillo’s 3rd Annual Oktoberfest Celebration” on Monday, October 30 at Chef Klaus’ Die Bier Stube, 679 LaGrange Road, Frankfort 60423. Keynoter will be none other than Rep. Tom Cross, Republican leader of the state House who has done a wonderful job in supporting bright young talent like Jake. Lillian and I will be there to contribute to Jake’s political betterment. It goes for $30 a ticket, $50 a couple with a whole list of prestigious sponsorships. Time: 5:30 to 8:00 p.m. Here’s a link to more information. Take the time to honor Jake and meet a good number of his fans including the Roeser’s.

Flashback: The Premier of Ireland Arrives Amid a Hubbub. Humphrey’s Sage Advice About the Premier’s Wife: “You’ll Want to Watch Her. She’s Nuts.”

[More from fifty years in politics written for my kids and grandchildren].

All the planning in the world to get my governor reelected in 1962 had to take second place, on occasion, to defer to the ceremonials of the job as state chief executive which Elmer Andersen took very seriously indeed. While my mind was filled with strategies for defeating Karl Rolvaag, I was called into the governor’s office and told to set these things aside for a time. Something really big was about to happen. What could possibly dwarf our interest in getting reelected? The prime minister of Ireland was about to come to heavily Irish St. Paul and attend Mass at the Cathedral of Saint Paul. It was loaded with political significance for it would be the first time a high Irish dignitary would visit the city. Which meant that all the public officials would be at Mass to be celebrated by the Archbishop of St. Paul and Minneapolis, Leo Binz. The governor of Minnesota, obviously, would be the host. Attending would be the two United States Senators, Hubert Humphrey and Eugene McCarthy, the entire roster of state constitutional officers, the Congressmen from St. Paul and Minneapolis, the mayors of St. Paul and Minneapolis, heads of the two branches of the legislature, the city councils of both cities and many senior business and labor union officials.

“Since I am to be the host and am not Catholic,” said the Governor, “and since you are the only Catholic working for me, I nominate you as the minister of protocol. And you must run liaison between the archbishop and his people and us. For example, what am I as a Lutheran supposed to do at Mass—kneel? I won’t kneel because it is not sanctioned in my church. Obviously I shall not receive the Lord’s Supper…” which I corrected as Communion. “…Communion, then. See? That’s why you have the job. At the same time, I want to show my deepest respect for the Catholic religion [meaning in this election year]. Another question: I take it my wife and I will be in the front of the church—the front pew, do you call it? I will want to sit directly next to the Premier so as to be in the pictures when they are taken. Where will the two Senators sit? Where will Judd sit who isn’t particularly fond of me? Now the Speaker of the House is not a Catholic but he should be right up front, because I like him. The Lieutenant Governor [Karl Rolvaag his gubernatorial opponent]: where will he sit? If he is sober, I don’t mind him sitting in my pew. If he’s drunk as he usually is I don’t want him sitting near me. His wife is also frequently drunk. You will have to handle this and make such decisions on a moment’s notice so as not to embarrass us. Okay?

“The House majority leader, Donald Wozniak, is a Catholic but I cannot stand him so don’t by any means put him near me. My wife’s first cousin, Senator Stan Holmquist is not Catholic but she wishes him to sit near us. What are the rules for the media to attend and take TV shots of the Mass? I would like them to attend but what is the protocol in your Church for this kind of thing? I am handing this all to you. The Archbishop is a new man and has not been here very long. I’ve only met him once. What do I do when I meet him on this occasion? Don’t tell me I kiss his ring because I will absolutely not. Do I shake his hand? Also does the British consul sit near us? The Irish consul, I would imagine, would take precedence. You are not known for your expertise at protocol so you better get out of here and learn about it. And don’t let this interfere with your other duties like handling my news conferences, writing my speeches, writing my news releases. And you must give me a thorough briefing paper about the situation in Ireland with respect to Britain so I can sound knowledgeable. That’s all I can think of at the moment.”

When I got back to my desk I got a phone call from the Governor: “I just thought of something else. Other church dignitaries will attend. My Lutheran bishop—I’d like him up front. The Episcopal bishop should be there, too. Then Rabbi Gunther Plaut will be there and he is usually ignored. Don’t let that happen to him. He should be up front. But if the Unitarian minister comes I can’t think of his name just now, I don’t want him in front because I don’t like him and disagree with his theology. One more thing: can you arrange it so the Catholic members of the legislature tend to sit more up front as they would like to be there I am sure. Finally, watch Humphrey. He’s a showboat and will try to get in the picture. Don’t put him near me. Put him near Rolvaag. Okay? Also what about security? The Premier is a high official. We don’t want him assassinated on our watch. Coordinate with the state troopers. That’s all I can think of for now.”

So I called a meeting of state troopers, none of them Catholic, who agreed to help me run this thing. Then I ran over to the Cathedral and sat down with the archbishop, the Most Rev. Leo Binz. He said, “This is what I am going to do. Every dignitary from Minnesota should arrive early and be seated. I have talked to the Irish consul and they want the Premier and his wife to be escorted in later, after everyone is seated—so as to make a big splash. Okay with me. In fact, I will start off by blessing the Cathedral which we do at High Mass. Do you remember how the blessing goes?”

I thought so. “Let me fill you in. The celebrant of the Mass—me—takes what is known as the Aspergirrom which is this spoon-like device, dips it into a bucket and walks down the aisle shaking off the holy water first one side then another. Like this” and he waved a make-believe Aspirgirrom to his right and left. “I will be notified that the Premier and his wife will be standing at the rear door of the Cathedral so I will march down the center aisle shaking the holy water to and fro. When I get to the rear door, I will greet the Premier and his wife and they will follow me up the center aisle to take their place in the left front pew right next to the Governor and his wife. Be sure that they wait. You will learn that I am a stickler for ceremony and I am relieved that you as a Catholic will be in charge of protocol.”

Mass was to be at high noon. The dignitaries—Senators, congressmen, state lawmakers, mayors—all arrived on time, surprisingly and were shown to their assigned seats much as if they were going to a wedding with the state troopers escorting them which the elected officials thought was nifty. As Humphrey and his wife were escorted down the aisle, Humphrey beckoned to me with a raised finger. I thought: what now? I went over. He whispered, “you will want to watch out for her.” I said: “who?” He said, “Her. The premier’s wife.” I said: “why?” He said, “she’s nuts.” I said, “huh?” He said, “she’s nuts. I watched her when she was in Washington. Mad as a March hare.” Our whispering was being frowned at by my boss the governor who didn’t care for the fact that I knew Humphrey pretty well—so I said, “okay, I’ll watch out.” Humphrey said: “Do that. Really nuts.”

I headed back down the aisle to the rear door so as to be on hand when the Premier and his wife arrived. They were walking up the steps. She didn’t look nuts to me—but I never have doubted Humphrey’s acumen at times like this. Then the bells rang and the Archbishop came out on the altar. He took into his hands a bucket of holy water and the Aspergirrum, a kind of bulb on a wand that looked not unlike a portable microphone. He dipped it into the bucket and to the sound of majestic organ music led a procession, followed by priests and curates down the aisle, waving the bulbous instrument filled with holy water as the Catholics in the pews blessed themselves and knelt. At the back to the church, I was holding the Premier and his wife back from entering, telling them that they would be greeted by the Archbishop. The TV cameras decided to film this ceremony, running—improperly, I thought—backwards and filming as the Archbishop approached. The Archbishop didn’t seem to be perturbed that they were filming him so I decided it was all right. The backward running photographers with their cameras whirring detoured gracefully and the Premier and his wife approached the Archbishop as he held in his hands the sacred bulbous instrument with which he had blessed the church.

Then I found out what Humphrey had meant about the Premier’s wife. She advanced on the startled Archbishop, took the bulbous instrument from him and spoke into it—thinking it was a microphone—saying, “On behalf of all the people or Ireland my husband Sean Lemass the Taoiseach [literal title in Gaelic] are happy to greet you, Archbishop!” The irreverent TV cameramen tittered with laughter and one, backing up to get a wider arc film, went over backward, falling head over heels, shouting in fear, with camera rattling down the 27 marble steps to the sidewalk while all the other cameramen decided to record it, angering the Premier’s wife, Kathleen Hughes Lemass who felt they were being topped by a stupid cameraman. She made a pass for the bulbous instrument which the Archbishop pulled away from her. Finally, they followed the Archbishop into the cathedral and down the aisle, the prelate handing the blessed bulb to an altar boy.

When I got back to my pew, I could feel Humphrey’s eyes on me. I looked at him and he gave me a sign that meant: I told you so. That Mass was the first time I saw Wanda the Weather Bunny, the former non-meteorologist TV star from Norway, the volunteer DFL publicist who was such a fan of Humphrey’s—there demurely with her rich husband. At a reception—coffee and rolls—in the Church hall she approached and said with a lilting accent: “Your governor is such a nice man. He is of Norwegian descent, no?” Yes, I said. “I am very impressed with him,” she said. I said—“but you are a Democrat, no?” She said surprisingly: “no—just for good government.” I wondered about that—but not long. I grabbed a cup of coffee and seeing Humphrey across the room, told him how the Premier’s wife mistook the Archbishop’s holy water bulb for a TV microphone.

“It could have been worse,” he said. Then as we joshed, he turned serious and said: “Don’t get used to your fine surroundings, Roeser.” I won’t, I said. By the way, I fortified old Rolvaag over there with a good shot of sacramental wine. Was that okay? I walked away, vowing: Hubert, I’ll see you in hell before you take the governorship away from us—even from this weak liberal haphazard nondescript Republican governor I’m working for.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Personal Asides: Did Clinton Really “Lose it”? Or Was it Another Mahton…Bahton…and Fish?...New Additions to the Roosevelt U Lecture List: IL Manufacturers’ Greg Baise..State Senator and DuPage GOP Chair Kirk Dillard…Former GOP Gubernatorial Candidate


Clinton, Mahton…Bahton…and Fish.

Tempting as it would be to think that Bill Clinton really blew it, referring to Chris Wallace’s smirk on his face, raising the specter of the Far Right conspiracy yet again, tying Rupert Murdock into it…in an attempt to cover his hind quarters over his failure to kill Bin Laden…this skilled politician skillfully applied the axiom: never lose your temper unless for effect. You must remember that in that interview Clinton had no place to go. A technically bad decision to be interviewed by Fox News led to questions to which no one—not even Clinton—can give supportable answers. So when confronted with that problem, the political axiom goes, appeal to your base: defend yourself with visible anger, resurrect the notion of persecution by the far-right.

In 1936 with a recession begin to revive casting doubt on his palliatives, FDR looked around and saw the Republicans gathering strength. He was being assailed by Joe Martin the House GOP leader…by ad money raised by ad mogul Bruce Barton of BBD&0…and by insults to his patriotism by his own upstate New York Congressman, Hamilton Fish. That led Robert Sherwood to write the diatribe wherein FDR listed his enemies as economic royalists and harpooned a litany of names which an excitable Democratic crowd helped him say by shouting back to him—“Martin…Barton…and Fish!” We have fought the reactionaries through passage of Social Security and farm aid, said Roosevelt—but we have been hobbled by the trio of…

Crowd: “Martin, Barton and Fish!” Or as FDR said in his sonorous New York accent: Mahton…Bahton…and Fish.

He didn’t have the time or Sherwood to think up a variant of Mahton…Bahton…and Fish, but by and large, Clinton came out all right…with just a little hair singeing…in what could have been a very dangerous situation. He electrified the Democratic party’s base. He was overheard later in the anteroom threatening to fire the staffer who had signed him up for Fox which more than anything else showed the magnitude of the danger. Going on Fox was the error—but Clinton got out of the box by feigning anger and did it well. That doesn’t mean that there is no doubt about his performance as president anent terrorism. A host of lies and overstatements came from his lips in his own defense…especially the whopper that Richard Clarke was fired (a blooper that appeared also in the ABC documentary)…but Clinton survived an ambush by Wallace that no other reputable newsman would try. The bluster may not have been effective with independents and Republicans but won well with the liberal base and Clinton escaped without much political harm. The residual effect of the ABC program and the Wallace questions harms his reputation, no doubt. But it could have been oh so much worse.

Compare this to the tirade the Stroger people unleashed under the tutelage of Mike Noonan, the campaign manager to obfuscate decades of misrule by Stroger and the Democrats. The Cook county Democrats are in grave trouble and there’s no way to escape except by throwing up a ghost scare of far-right zanies. In the City Club debate, Todd Stroger obediently used Noonan’s catchwords including “Alan Keyes Republicans.” He had a full house of county employees at the City Club and so the Stroger tirade worked out pretty well in the short run. But carried on by Noonan on WTTW-TV later that night in a debate with Dan Proft of Peraica’s staff, the rant didn’t score. Noonan was too excitable, relying too much on repetitive far-right hysterics. You mean to tell me that the most Democratic county in the nation is on the verge of falling into the hands of…gasp…Alan Keyes and the blue-nose anti-aborts, anti-birth control freaks who force women to have children and who warn of Communists overdoing the fluoride in the water, turning government over to the strident evangelical campground Jesus Jumpers? Mike, my spiritual son, give all of us a break.

Still…you must remember that Mike Noonan is the best campaign manager and strategist the Democratic party has: he is the man who managed the campaign in the heart of Republican McHenry county that got Democrat Jack Franks elected by an eyelash…and enabled Franks to build on that victory to an unassailable position now. What Noonan has to do now is to devise a completely positive, even stringent, progressive platform for his candidate, outlining cuts, eschewing tax hikes, issuing a blueprint for reform. Mike’s weakness is that he will try to make Alan Keyes the perpetual hob-goblin in the campaign. If Keyes is, Noonan and his candidate marionette, could lose. I have faith in Noonan the savvy. But if you continually keep hearing Alan Keyes-Alan Keyes and see the pumpkin-head always raised on a stick as a far-right gargoyle, you know that Noonan hasn’t hit on a positive program for the campaign yet. If he doesn’t, the Democrats may very well blow it. Time is ebbing fast.

New Additions to the Roosevelt Lecture Circuit.

New additions to my Roosevelt University lecture circuit are Greg Baise, former Illinois Secretary of Transportation and holder of one of the most prestigious jobs in economic policy-making: president of the Illinois Manufacturers Association. Greg has an inventive proposal for reform of the Illinois General Assembly. He has been in the forefront of state policy-making since he began with Governor Jim Thompson many years ago. He will speak on October 19 at 6 p.m. Baise can talk about his experience in the governor’s office, as a governor’s choice cabinet officer and now a major advocate for business in the state. He was also the highly successful campaign manager for Ronald Reagan in this state in 1984—and Reagan carried the state. So he can talk about several constituencies: executive, bureaucracy, business and political party.

Following him on the same night, October 19—only at 7 p.m.—will be a powerful leader of the Illinois Republican party, State Sen. Kirk Dillard, who is also the Republican chairman of DuPage county. Kirk was administrative assistant to Governor Jim Edgar and is also in the private practice of law. Like his friend Greg Baise, Kirk Dillard can talk about several constituencies: the executive office of governor…the legislature…and the political party.

Speaking the next week—October 26 at 6 p.m. will be Ron Gidwitz, former CEO of Helene Curtis, now a private entrepreneur and a candidate for the Republican gubernatorial nomination in the March primary. He is former chairman of the state Board of Education and has been a Republican committeeman of the 43rd Chicago ward and has been a key player in business circles in Chicago for many years. Thus he is well equipped to talk about the constituencies of business…state government…and political party. More speakers coming.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Personal Asides: Peraica, Stroger, Noonan Himself All “Personally Opposed--But”—So Cut the Subterfuge, Mr. Noonan…Sign Up Today for the “Father Mac” Haymarket Dinner Dance...Congratulations to John Kass for Writing Up Stufflebeam.


At the City Club of Chicago debate and later on WTTW-TV, Todd Stroger manager Mike Noonan has attempted to evade legitimate charges of misfeasance and malfeasance of the Democrats’ management of Cook County government. How? By charging that Tony Peraica is “pro-life,” that he is “anti-gay” and that he is a far-right tool who is going to block poor women from receiving abortions with county funds. Noonan, a personal friend of mine who is always welcome to be on my show, knows that this is a subterfuge and cover-up—a dodge and diversion to evade with code-words the true assessment for the Democrats’ responsibility for mismanagement of the county—a mismanagement that is readily documented in daily headlines, FBI records seizures and journalistic investigation stories. If Noonan can frighten blacks and the poor into thinking that the specter of Herbert Hoover in a celluloid collar is coming to slash funds, he can get his pawn Todd Stroger elected on the cheap—without having to outline a program. So Noonan has raised the charge that Peraica is not only “pro-life” but will inflict his medieval view on all citizens of the county. The charge ranks with the worst demagoguery of the past quarter century in local politics.

First, much as I regret to say it, Tony Peraica is not in any strict sense a pro-lifer. God knows I wish he were. He is a “personally opposed” Catholic who has said on my radio show that he will not lift a finger to return to the old days when fellow Catholic—and philosophically committed—George Dunne ended taxpayer paid abortions at county. “Personally opposed” Catholics on the issue of abortion are a dime a dozen. They include John Stroger and Todd Stroger, who have insisted that they are Catholics and probably “personally oppose” the practice but allow it to continue as a matter of public policy. They also include Richard M. Daley, Maggie Daley, Mike, Lisa and Shirley Madigan, Pat Quinn, Dan Hynes, Judy Baar Topinka, Richard Durbin, Mike Quigley, Tom Tunney and Carole Mosley-Braun to name only a few of a host of other rudderless Catholics who in the interest of getting elected and reelected rise above principle on the greatest moral issue of our time. The list of “personally opposed but” Catholics includes the Kennedys, Joe Biden and Chris Dodd. Catholic Mike Noonan belongs in that group along with Peraica—as Noonan well knows. Unless he wants to formally renounce his Church right now—and I take it he doesn’t—Noonan and those listed above are “personally opposed—but” Catholics. No different from Tony Peraica. Why then have I endorsed “personally opposed—but” Tony Peraica and not “personally opposed—but” Todd Stroger?

I have endorsed Peraica despite the fact that as a Catholic myself, I abhor “personally opposed—but” Catholics not because I have any illusions that he will restore a sense of pro-life to our community—but because in contrast to the weak, flailing and inept Todd Stroger he is the only possible choice for people who want to see someone shovel out the trash and corruption from county government. Period. Here I have no expectant illusions about Peraica…any more than the “Sun-Times’” Mark Brown, an abortion rights supporter, has any illusions about Peraica…or the editorial board of the “Tribune” about Peraica…or Rich Miller who calls himself a progressive Democrat has any illusions about Peraica. The choice of Peraica is a necessity because of the gross incompetence and venal exploitation of the Strogers and the Democratic party.

Again, the “personally opposed—but” Mike Noonan (who still is a personal friend and who can get on my program any time he wants) who has launched this smokescreen is no different from “personally opposed—but” Peraica. As an observant Catholic who upholds all the traditions of its theology, I wish they were not “personally opposed—but” but that is not to be. But for the sake of honest discussion of the issues, Mike Noonan and his creation, Todd Stroger ought to give the issue of abortion a rest. It is a duplicitous subterfuge as all these evasive faint-hearted Catholics are the same on the issue of abortion…and, for that matter, the same on the issue of gay-rights which is another prime moral teaching of the Church. Tony Peraica and the other Catholic Republicans on the Board first supported the Gay Games, then withdrew their support but in the cover-up insist that, just like abortion, they are “personally opposed—but.” Traditional family values doesn’t belong in this debate because you can’t trust a single one of them, Republican or Democrat, on this issue.

So let’s begin to conduct the debate over who is the best choice of manager for county government by putting aside the patent evasion that campaign strategist Noonan and his created candidate Todd Stroger have raised…that Peraica is a kind of Operation Rescue right-to-life activist. I wish he were but he’s not. There are too many other things to take legitimate issue about other than who is more “personally opposed—but.” I don’t give many of the Catholics in public policy much credence on this issue—least of all Peraica, the Strogers or Noonan. I wish I could. But Mike Noonan and Todd: don’t try to kid the troops with a phony issue involving clothes hangers and back alley abortions. Since all the players are duplicitous here, it doesn’t wash. The issue is: who is better suited to clear up the corruption…a party that has been in county power for 40 years or a party with a new leader? I am willing to give Peraica a chance. It’s now the option of Todd Stroger and the man who pulls his strings, Mike Noonan, to proceed with the campaign and outline their plans for budget cutting and fiscal responsibility—with specifics.

Father Mac.

Here’s the first in a number of invitations you’ll get from me to sign up to be with all of us at the annual Father Ignatius D. McDermott “Haymarket Center Dinner Dance” on Tuesday, October 24 at Drury Lane in Oakbrook Terrace. It costs $50 a plate, $500 a table the funds going to the upkeep and support of Fr. Mac’s creation, Haymarket Center on the West Side of Chicago. You’ll have a chance to greet all of us…I’m a board member of Haymarket…eat delicious food, dance to the music of the renowned Stanley Paul orchestra. Social hour begins at 6 p.m., dinner at 7 p.m. The dinner will pay tribute to the Chicago Police Department and its many workers who take care of the indigent and homeless, bringing them to Haymarket which turns no one away. Phone your reservation in to Haymarket (312) 236 -7984 extension 314…and tell them Tom Roeser asked you to call!

John Kass.

The “Tribune” columnist is the very first major league political columnist to give serious thought…and he hasn’t said he will do it, remember…to writing in the name of Randy Stufflebeam for governor as a protest to the lousy choice we have in Illinois between Rod Blagojevich and Judy Baar Topinka. There’s no thought whatsoever that Randy Stufflebeam, an earnest, top-notch ex-Marine can win…but for those of us who are dismayed at the choice his name provides a welcome escape. The idea that one should hold his/her nose and vote for Topinka is unacceptable since she will continue the domination of the Republican party to the “Combine’ that John Kass has astutely called the bipartisan collection of rogues who profit from politics and cut deals in the interest solely of their own financial bettement. That has to stop. It won’t stop if you elect Topinka. Allowing the Republican party to lose gives us one more chance to purge the leadership and set up the machinery for an honest party—so this state will have a truly two-party choice again. S-t-u-f-f-l-e-b-e-a-m: there, that wasn’t too hard, was it?

Monday, September 25, 2006

Flashback: Humphrey Secretly Mobilizes the Campaign to Take Back the Minnesota Governorship. Step-by-Step: a Consummate Political Manager, Takes Over a State Campaign. Fasten Seatbelt.

[More from fifty years of politics for my kids and grandchildren].

Since this was the campaign that drastically changed my life…for the better, although I didn’t understand it that way then…I’ve had forty-four years to ponder and research how it happened. Slowly, methodically I’ve talked to people high and low who were involved…most of whom are now dead. The lower level ones supplied lots of the detail. The higher-up ones confirmed or corrected. One survivor obviously: the key stuff.

In January, 1962, John Kennedy was riding pretty high and Elmer Andersen was riding along in the mid-40s in the polls on approval—but compared to Karl Rolvaag he looked fairly good. Andersen hadn’t accomplished much in the 1961 session, had submitted a populist budget that turned the DFL into the guardians of the money establishment…then withdrew it, feinted and accepted the withholding tax system which gave a one-time influx of money that balanced the budget. No great victories there. He was portrayed as a decent, fairly liberal (I would say in the genre of the time an extremely liberal) Republican governor. Now he and Rolvaag were vying for the state’s first four-year term: the four years interested Humphrey greatly.

Andersen’s one big non-negotiable item was the Taconite Amendment to the state constitution which would guarantee that the manufacturing process of extracting ore from slag would be taxed as what it was—a manufacturing process and not at the high rate that the occupation tax on mining was. For those who were sophisticated about issues, his Taconite Amendment was a winner—which would allow more investment in the process and more jobs on the Range. But for those who were not, the taxation of taconite was a big boring blur. But when Andersen explained it with small words and commonsense terms, it was beginning to get through. Rolvaag was very inarticulate and came off as a labor union hack, opposed to any concession for jobs.

But to make matters more complicated for Andersen, the mining companies themselves were leery of the Taconite Amendment. They were frightened that if the Amendment was submitted to the voters and was turned down, the legislature would be more unfriendly to the industry than before. So their lobbyists tried to eat their cake and have it, too. They proposed that instead of an Amendment, the legislature pass a simple statute ruling that taconite be taxed as manufacturing. I was one of those who finally succeeded in convincing Andersen of something: to turn down the offer. Initially he wanted to accept it. The mining companies wanted a statute but we didn’t because we wanted to keep a wedge issue on jobs. So I argued that a statute could be passed in one session and repealed in another. Thus while the mining companies would settle for a statute we would not. That’s pretty much the way it stood with us Republicans in Minnesota in January, 1962.

Humphrey felt it was essential to reclaim the governorship for the Democratic-Farmer-Labor party so as to rehabilitate himself with national Democrats. They had pointed to how the Republicans of the state snookered him in the Minnesota presidential primary by sneaking GOP voters into it and causing Estes Kefauver to win, with Humphrey denied for a time even a delegate’s slot. Adlai Stevenson was all set to name Humphrey as his veep but after Stevenson was derailed in Minnesota, opened the convention to pick his running-mate. The convention thumbed its nose at Humphrey and picked Kefauver…some leaders telling Humphrey: Hell, Hubert, you couldn’t even win for Stevenson in your own state’s presidential primary! No one really understood how that burned Humphrey. The image grew that Humphrey didn’t run the party in this state when, in fact, he did. So he had to prove himself in order to be in line for the next choosing of a presidential candidate in 1968.

Now, Humphrey had an alcoholic DFL candidate for governor…the lieutenant governor, Karl Rolvaag…with an alcoholic wife—both items fairly secret from the electorate. Rolvaag was leading Andersen 49 to 47. Too close to call. Humphrey decided to act. He called Rolvaag and told him he would like to meet both Rolvaag and his wife for breakfast unannounced in his suite at the Leamington hotel, Minneapolis—his visit not to be announced to the press…setting an early time—7 a.m.. He had by his side a physician from a world-famed institute on addiction.

He told them they had a choice: submit to a regimen to be further described or he, Humphrey, would have to pull the plug—using some pretext or other but which would inevitably be recognized for what it was: his belief that Rolvaag was not ready. And Mondale would be ready. The polls would jerk upward suddenly in Mondale’s favor: like 60 to 30. He told the Rolvaags this, plainly. He said he, Humphrey, would not play a role in the campaign if Rolvaag would not change his ways starting now. That, as they all knew, would be a disaster. But, said Humphrey, if both of them submitted to treatment—which meant going a way for a short time, then coming back…everything could work out. They agreed to begin a lifetime treatment starting with total seclusion for a limited time—10 days…which would be explained as the need to take a long delayed vacation. When they came back, the campaign would be initiated. A staffer skilled in alcoholic counseling would be added to the campaign management, who would travel with the candidate—another aide would minister to her, visit with her, take her calls etc. The physician would call the turn at all times. If it failed, Rolvaag would have to bail out because of any number of reasons--“illness,” “the need to spend time with the family.” Et al.

These were his conditions. They enthusiastically accepted them—but he wasn’t overjoyed when they did because (a) he knew as alcoholics they would promise anything initially and (b) he preferred Mondale, wanted Rolvaag to bow out. When they left, Humphrey told the physician he was doubtful that the enthusiasm meant anything but things seemed to be settled on them in any event. The physician whose interests in Humphrey and the DFL were great, told him he did well and promised on his honor to keep them on track and stay in touch with Humphrey. He had the Senator’s private number at work and home.

They left his suite at about 9:30 a.m. Humphrey got on the phone with Roger Blough of U. S. Steel and said that Blough should get mining lawyers to him that very day and work with him to write a Taconite statute which Rolvaag would officially endorse in place of an amendment. A group of lawyers from a Twin Cities law firm came to his suite at 1:45 p.m. in time for late lunch. They had a draft of a statute. Humphrey made a few phone calls including one to Robert Olson, head of the Minnesota AFL-CIO while the industry lawyers were present. He served as intermediary between Olson on the phone and the industry lawyers, scribbled in some language himself, and formally but privately committed the DFL and Rolvaag to the statute—in order to fuzz things up and let allow Andersen to own the jobs issue. When they left, he called Blough again, got him out of a meeting and said the statute endorsement was a done deal—and that he, Humphrey, fully expected industry would take note of that and also contribute to Rolvaag. Blough said he understood.

He called Rolvaag and told him he now had a statute, pleasantly noting to himself that the candidate sounded okay. By 3 p.m. he was in a quickly-called session with the state chairman of the DFL party who was surprised to note that Humphrey was in town. He came over to Humphrey’s suite. They had coffee. He told him that it was important that Rolvaag have a bright, new face for Lieutenant Governor. The state chairman recited a few candidates. Humphrey snapped that there wasn’t a bright new face in that crowd. The chairman said he couldn’t think of a particularly bright new face. Humphrey blew up. That’s exactly the problem, he said. Well, I have. And he nominated then and there a bright, young liberal state senator from the southeastern sector who was planning to run against Rep. Al Quie in the future, A. M. (Sandy) Keith. Humphrey told the state chairman that he must go gentle with the other also-rans but this fellow would be the one. That meeting ended at 4:30 p.m. with Rolvaag to be notified as to who his running mate would be.

Now Humphrey met with a DFL staff operative working on the Fraser campaign for the House vs. Walter Judd. The official gave a depressing view of the campaign to unseat Walter Judd. The Kennedy State Department was actively cooperating with Judd’s reelection because it felt that the Minnesota Republican was an important link to conservatives in the House to get them to back foreign aid and military appropriations. Judd had received active aid and comfort including a letter from Secretary of State Dean Rusk that praised him for his bipartisan cooperation and gave heavy hint that the Kennedy administration preferred that he win the election of 1962. The operative thought the Minneapolis “Star” and “Tribune”—both owned by the Cowles family—would normally endorse Don Fraser because the papers were moving left…but if the JFK administration showed it needed Judd, the endorsement could go with qualification to Judd, which might very well mean Judd’s victory. The rumor was that Judd had a glowing Dean Rusk letter in his file—all ready to go to the press.

The JFK people backing Judd privately: Humphrey saw it as a duplication in duplicity. One instance didn’t really bother him. The Kennedy brothers were betraying Rep. Syd Yates who was running against Sen. Everett Dirksen in Illinois, were almost visibly consorting with Dirksen on plum federal projects for Illinois to get him reelected. They were unimpressed with Yates who they saw as rather seedy and nothing more than a hack. Humphrey knew about the Dirksen ploy and, frankly, as a Senator himself believed that Dirksen was more important in the Senate to the Kennedy-Johnson foreign policy program (although not so important as the Kennedy brothers felt) than a first-term Democrat from the lakefront the same general area Paul Douglas was from: and Humphrey thought Douglas was a man of conscience but one who couldn’t deliver many votes.

So he had winked at it, viewing Dirksen as a wheezing elderly bag of helium who told funny stories and who was undependable sometimes but as one who could deliver the conservative Democratic South, extraordinarily helpful. But that wouldn’t hold for Walter Judd. The deliverer of the 1960 keynote damn near got Nixon elected with that one speech. Humphrey got on the phone in the staffer’s presence, got hold of Secretary of State Dean Rusk and asked if Rusk had written a private, supposedly confidential letter to Judd expressing the hope that Judd would be reelected. He stood up and walked back and forth the length of the phone cord, winking at the staffer as he listened to Rusk’s explanation.

Rusk denied it. Then he fudged. He said yes he had written a kind of bread-and-butter letter. He hadn’t expressed that view about hoping Judd would be reelected. Still, his personal correspondence was, er, ah personal. Then Humphrey feigned a tantum. He bluffed, said he had Rusk’s letter right there in his hand. He got Rusk to admit he did say Judd’s cooperation was valuable—er, maybe he said it was invaluable. Listen, Dean, said Humphrey raising his voice, don’t give me that personal letter crap! It just may be as Majority Whip I have a few personal objections to your program including some aspects of your appropriation and your president’s program. If we’re in the business of letting our personal views dominate, you’ll get mine as soon as I get back to Washington.

Again: If you want this to occur I can tell you it will as soon as I get back to Washington. I would greatly appreciate a statement from some underling somewhere who has looked at Fraser’s foreign policy statements that support the president and sees fit to praise Don Fraser who will be there for the administration on many things more than Judd will. I’d like to see that in the newspaper out here —or by God after this is all over all of us may have enough time to romanticize with Walter Judd when we’re sitting on our [derogatory reference to human posterior] with nothing to do but write our memoirs in the Metropolitan Club [snooty men’s club in Washington]. Rusk mumbled agreement.

Slam went Humphrey’s receiver. The staffer was relieved and left with a message to tell Fraser.

Then he picked it up again, called Vice President Lyndon Johnson and the both of them laughed at his description of his earlier put-on tantrum. He got Johnson on his side immediately. It was too late to fly back to Washington but the next day was Saturday anyhow. His work for the day was finished. He had (a) shaped up the Rolvaags—husband and wife—he hoped, for the campaign, (b) had given Rolvaag a wedge-busting issue of a Taconite statute that had been okayed not just by organized labor but by Roger Blough of U. S. Steel; (c) got Blough to understand Rolvaag should have some big financial support from the steel industry; (d) had given Rolvaag a bright young lieutenant governor candidate; and (e) ended any idea in the Kennedy administration of doing a backhanded endorsement of Walter Judd, thus cutting the ground from under Judd. Pretty good day.

He called Mrs. Humphrey in Washington, telling her he was going to be back early the next day, Saturday and that he would stay at the Leamington rather than his Waverly, Minnesota home because he didn’t want to advertise to the press that he was in the state. Following which he had a lingering pre-dinner snack with a friend…coffee, butter cookies…a fan—a bright young woman, Norwegian immigrant boutique entrepreneur who had done weather…Wanda the Weather Bunny stuff (no meteorologist) …on KSTP-TV, then divorcing and marrying a rich investor (who gave plenty of dough to the DFL). Tall, 30ish, fecund, flowing blonde hair, limpid blue eyes. Did news reading for WCCO radio but the hint of a Norwegian accent bothered the station manager who didn’t want it to sound like an ethnic station. When she quit, news director Arv Johnson felt like crying, he said, because he wouldn’t have the scenery to look at in the studio anymore. She went to the first all-news station in the Twin Cities, then quit for a lifetime as a wealthy DFL, minor philanthropist and civic matron.

She handled media relations as a volunteer for the DFL including Rolvaag; had free-market orientation strange for a DFLer (Humphrey supposed from her husband). One of the real lookers in the DFL. Hell, almost the only looker, Humphrey would say privately. Most of the others looked like what they were: college professors in dumpy sweaters no makeup and sensible shoes, junkies with bitten-off, broken fingernails, no nail-polish, somewhat in need of grooming; fat women labor economists, skinny ex-U of M depression baby radicals. Not this one. After Humphrey’s death in 1978 and yet another divorce (making it three), she moved rightward. Humphrey was the last good Democrat, she said.

They were having a platonic love affair—one of shared intellectual pursuits, quiet jokes, she hugely enjoying his hilarity at recounting achievements of the day—including this very day. Platonic. They were both married, she on her second. She was open to an affair: not he, not Humphrey, uh-uh. But Humphrey the raconteur derived a great sense of ego fulfillment—that was all--from their infrequent, discreet meetings. She understood completely, before he needed to elucidate. Her suggestions were very few; but, listening, asked good questions. Humphrey told her he needed a scandal on Andersen: the Taconite amendment, Taconite statute was arcane. So Rolvaag wanted a statute, Andersen an amendment. Who the hell cared? She agreed. Humphrey pondered: But what kind of scandal? Minnesota didn’t grow scandals either with DFL or Republican. They drank coffee and nibbled butter cookies. He came to no conclusion, deciding to ask Orv Freeman to sound out holdovers in state government. But enough about me. What’d you got?

She had gossip about journalists, the business community, pols. They gabbed until very late. Obligatory kiss on the cheek. Warm parting tender looks at the door. That was it. And she was gone. Never anything more than that with Humphrey. No affairs for him. Kennedy and Johnson could get away with it…but sometimes even they were caught up and less effective trying to ditch clinging women. Not many others were so lucky. George Smathers, presidentially qualified: rumors dogged him, ruined his chance at the presidency. That wouldn’t happen to Hubert. Nothing wrong with a cheek kiss, butter cookies, coffee. Good advice, too. Once in a while they’d talk on the phone. Meet once every six months or so. Harmless friendship.

As he flew back to Washington the next morning, he knew the job wasn’t done. There would have to be a scandal within the Andersen administration on which to capitalize. Which was difficult because Andersen was squeaky clean and his administration was filled with new hires, largely people who had not been in government. But to repeat: there must be some fuse of scandal to be lighted. Or the contrast between slow-witted Rolvaag and Andersen, bright, articulate, idealist—yeah, somewhat feminine (they had already checked that angle: no dice)—would work against Rolvaag. Humphrey would sit down with Orville Freeman, the last governor, now Kennedy’s secretary of agriculture, and see if Freeman could run through his old state government contacts to see if they couldn’t pick up some gossip that could lead some negative researchers to gin up a scandal. Humphrey was confident he could strike flint on stone and blow on the spark to cause it to flicker into what could seem to be a four-alarm fire.

Lots of Democratic holdovers remained—in mental health (Minnesotans were pro-mental health: that’d be a good one if he could find something in that department), conservation, corrections (crooked guards smuggling reefers into Stillwater?) Show him any state government even in pure Minnesota that couldn’t produce a scandal—even a very modest one that could look bad. It would be up to Freeman and his people to dig one up from holdovers in state government. Yep, he knew his old aide Orv and his assistants could find one. One of the best was still deputy commissioner of highways—Frank Marzitelli. With luck, they could dump Andersen. Which would bring in a DFL governor for four years—carrying over to 1966. One term for Rolvaag and out: then Mondale coming in in `66, carrying beyond the presidential year of 1968. 1968: Humphrey’s year. That’s what you’d call being in good political shape. Fasten the seatbelt: coming in to Washington National.

Personal Asides: The Best Papal Defense…Carol Marin Scores…Poor Mark Brown…Bernie Stone’s Courage …Bernard Lewis on Iraq.

SZ200_Mark Brown
Pope Benedict XVI

Best Papal Defense.

After reading the text of Benedict’s lecture that infuriated the Muslims, I find the best writing anywhere in defense of the Pope been not in the Catholic press…and in no secular paper better than in “The Wall Street Journal.” Start with the column “Global View” on September 19 by Bret Stephens, a staffer, entitled “Pope Provocateur”—a sophisticated and theologically brilliant discourse that tops anything Papal apologists have disseminated either here or overseas. Excerpt: “Let’s play that again, since the rest of the media failed to notice—Pope Benedict suggests that the God of Mohammad is, or may seem to humans to be, `not even bound to truth and goodness.’ Who knows whether that really reflects a consensus view down the ages among Muslim theologians—Benedict makes his case about Islam by citing one scholar who cites another scholar who cites another…

“In fact, Benedict saves his sharpest barbs for non-Muslim targets: Protestantism which seems a `primordial’ form of faith; liberal theology which reduces Jesus to `the father of a humanitarian moral message’; scientific rationalism, the ethics of which are `simply inadequate’ to answer the `specifically human questions about our origin and destiny’; and what might be called Catholic pluralism, a culturally adaptive notion of the faith that Benedict denounces as `false’ and coarse.’” Then there’s Daniel Henninger’s (deputy editorial page editor) in Friday and seemingly additional comments every day. One has to really hunker down to remember graduate theology to savor all these: remarkable for a secular economic newspaper. How different from the crass (you’re just as guilty as they are) Martin Marty in the “Tribune” not to mention the Sun-Times’ all-purpose know-nothing, nominal Catholic, Richard Roeper, the aging marketing niche-directed “youth” columnist.

Carol Marin.

Aha, you thought I was going to crack her again, didn’t you? No, Carol Marin’s column questioning the consistency of Mike Quigley, the Cook county commissioner supposedly the “reformer’s reformer” who sanctioned his top aide going to work for Todd Stroger although Quigley won’t vote for Stroger, is superb. Quigley has been dining out on his reform credentials but uses the old liberal dodge of not voting for Peraica because Peraica is pro-life, just like the other purist liberal Forrest Claypool, who, though a good man, can’t afford to offend the pro-abort sacred cows in his lefty party. Frankly, Peraica isn’t even that much a pro-lifer…refusing to do what George Dunne did and rescind the public abortion policy at County Hospital. Nevertheless Quigley-Claypool use that dodge to ingratiate themselves with their fellow lefties as the pretext for not voting for Todd Stroger.

If pro-abortion and gay rights meant as much to them as they say, they’d vote for Todd Stroger who supports both. Com’on Quigley and Claypool: don’t melt away into the woodwork. You can’t have it both ways. Aren’t abortion and gay rights of such importance that you can’t vote for Stroger when he’s running against a pro-lifer and non-gay rights supporter? Where is Terry Cosgrove of Personal PAC, the whip-cracking disciplinarian of the pro-abort movement? Is Cosgrove going to let Quigley and Claypool get away with this wimpy evasion—not voting for Stroger? Kudos to Marin for pointing out Quigley’s phony-baloney stratagem…refusing to vote for Stroger but sending his top aide over to support him.

Poor Mark Brown.

Poor Mark Brown of the “Sun-Times.” He has decided to vote for Peraica but he has to make amends to the liberal constituency of the city’s Democratic newspaper of record. Honest, he’s a liberal Democrat. Honest, he’s for abortion rights. Honest to God he’s for gay rights. But he’s going to vote for Peraica anyhow because, well, er, Peraica can’t get his terrible social conservatism through the County Board. Honest. He can’t. Of course he can’t. Don’t get me wrong: I’m still a liberal Democrat; honest to God I am. Let me count the ways! Oh shut up, Mark. You won’t lose your lefty credentials; stop worrying. Gawd. What a slavish ideological sycophant.

Bernie Stone’s Courage.

Understand, I don’t know whether or not the late Fred Roti was a crook or not—but that’s immaterial: I have a tremendous respect for Alderman Bernie Stone who defended him last night on my radio show…saying that the FBI waited until Roti was dead before they listed him as a crime figure. Stone is one of those rare, rare politicians who has the courage to stand by his friends…and he said he loved Roti…no matter what the prevailing winds of political correctness ordain. Anyone else would sink the dagger into the corpse and say the FBI may be right etc. Not Stone. He knew Roti for a long time and denounced any thought that he was involved except for association with the name. I like that. How different that is from the twisting and turning of Stone’s colleague in the 49th –picking up the juicy phony populist campaign for his own self-aggrandizement. Although I will say that Joe Moore is welcome on my show not because I agree with him but because he is a good guest.

Bernard Lewis.

What you want to do is to subscribe to “Imprimis” the free…absolutely free…newsletter from Hillsdale College. Costs you nothing. The latest issue describes a lecture given by profound and unexcelled Middle East expert, 90-year-old Bernard Lewis. Since you can get it free, I won’t bother summarizing it. If you want me to, just say the word and I will. As for now, it’s late and I have to go to bed. Goodnight all.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Personal Aside: Bernie Stone and Cindy Canary Score at Roosevelt.

The contrast was like day and night: a tough-minded alderman who served for 32 years, basically defending the system he understands so well…and a bright young woman who wants to bring more equity to it. Bernie Stone proved why he has been so often returned to office with his frank, un-cynical but realistic appraisal of how things work in the Chicago City Council. At the same time, Cynthia Canary, executive director of the Illinois Campaign for Political Reform showed the Roosevelt class how idealism is an indispensable commodity for young people and older ones to work with the system. Since the words of the speakers are entirely off-the-record this writer can only list impressions. They are three. First, given Bernie Stone’s wise, witty and thoroughly expert knowledge as alderman, not just his 50th ward but the entire city is fortunate to have him. Second, Canary’s work has provided an invaluable assist by listing on the Internet an award-winning website and campaign finance database at . Third, there is grounds for some hope that the two forces of seasoned aldermanic service and expert pressure for reform can accomplish much for a city that works and which can work even more effectively in the future.

Both Stone and Canary will be on my WLS-AM “Political Shootout” Sunday at 8 p.m.

Next up at my Roosevelt class: Former Illinois governor Jim Edgar who will appear at 6 p.m. There is little doubt that Jim Edgar retired at the peak of his popularity, that he still ranks high as one of the most respected chief executives of the state…and that had he wished to, he could have won the 2006 gubernatorial nomination without half trying and probably gone on to become the next governor of Illinois without breaking a sweat.

And at 7 the triple-threat man (a) business expert (b) media expert and (c) former regulator Dan Miller…financial editor of the “Sun-Times”…a knowledgeable commentator on the city and state’s economy…and proven authority on city and state media: Dan Miller.

At 90, Robert D. Stuart, Jr. is a Leading Progressive Entrepreneur. But at 24, With JFK and Others He Built a Dynamic Grassroots Movement that Saved Lives and Made U. S. Stronger.

How He Led “America First” Before He Joined World War II as Aide to General Eisenhower. Restraint Seen as Model for Foreign Policy of Today.

The first in a series of three articles on the birth of the historic “America First Committee” that sought to keep the U. S. out of World War II. and a blueprint for those today who seek to restrain future needless international involvements. Reprinted from The Wanderer, the oldest national Catholic weekly in America.

By Thomas F. Roeser

We celebrated the 90th birthday earlier this summer of the greatest entrepreneur and most public-spirited leader the legendary Quaker Oats Company of Chicago ever had, Robert D. Stuart, Jr. He is a key architect of this city’s social contract with generations of mayors, governors and presidents…a lifelong conservative Republican, charming family man, role model for employees and CEO colleagues. And also the founder, national director and last surviving leader of the original “America First Committee” which was formed to keep this country out of the 2nd World War.

Never was a peace movement so valiant and so successful in terms of delaying a war and saving human lives. Far from being disproved by Pearl Harbor, its fear of unprecedented presidential power to maneuver to war was thereby justified. Those who joined with Bob Stuart to keep America out of war went on to fame in other fields. They included a young John F. Kennedy, Sargent Shriver, Charles A. Lindbergh, Chester Bowles, William Benton, Alice Roosevelt Longworth, Gerald Ford, Potter Stewart, Bill Scranton, novelist Kathleen Norris, actress Lillian Gish, the LaFollette brothers of Wisconsin (former governor Philip and U. S. Senator Robert), Kingman Brewster, Gore Vidal, Jay Hormel, General Robert Wood (of Sears-Roebuck), John T. Flynn. While not a member, a close ally was Archbishop Francis Beckman of Dubuque, Iowa.

Because he was my boss for 27 years and valued mentor, I was glad to stand with my colleagues and raise a slender goblet of champagne to Robert D. Stuart, Jr. But at evening’s end, he told us our work was not over, ordering us to return to the same spot—his homey, tasteful but not ornate mansion—for his 100th. Born in 1916 of Scottish Presbyterian heritage, he had planned to be a lawyer and run for public office—setting his eyes on a U. S. Senate seat. But later it was clear that nobody else was ready to run Quaker after his uncle and father—and so it fell to him. And there he remained, a businessman when all the time—unbeknownst to us—he wanted a career in public life.

But it was his company’s inestimable good fortune to get him as CEO. It didn’t hurt that his name was Stuart to head a company partially founded by his grandfather—but his selection was not inevitable (his family actually owned only a micro-fraction of stock). Much had to be done. When he took over the company Quaker was regarded as principally a breakfast food company. His uncle and father moved it out of the general store classification to mid-20th century stature. When he left it, it was not only the choicest marketing marvel of the breakfast food industry but superbly diversified, owner as well of Fisher-Price, the Cadillac of toy companies, a men’s clothing chain, a marquis restaurant chain and a leader in providing quality television entertainment and with a prestigious reputation for social responsibility the conscience of grocery manufacturers. Bob Stuart made it so prominent a company that it was generally listed as outstanding in many categories: marketing and public responsibility foremost.

When he left to serve as Ronald Reagan’s ambassador to Norway, his company fell upon evil days, into the hands of transitional professional managers who viewed commerce only as funnel for their own enrichment. And who saw their goal as piling up lavish salaries, accoutrements and private jets (which he would not have tolerated).

The stock first spurted but then greed got too much: as it is said of the Jacobins of the French Revolution, they knew the cost of everything but the value of nothing. Rather than hunker down and repair their mistakes, these pragmatic managers “sold out”—the proper phrase for it—and consigned the Company as an appendage to a conglomerate, making big bucks for themselves in the process. But a final bright note: As a retiring vice-president, I was the last of my contemporaries who walked out under his own power. Everybody who plotted the debacle was either booted out the door or was forced to scoot like a river of frightened, squealing mice ahead of the tidal wave. What happened to them didn’t bring a good company back but showed there is such a thing as remunerative justice.

But it’s not of commercial enterprise that I write but of the “America First Committee” which Bob Stuart founded. After 65 years, he has written a book of memoirs, Making a Difference which he subtitles: Memoirs of a Lucky Man. It is privately circulated but which, if put on the market, would greatly alter some current misconceptions about the effort to keep this country from plunging into World War II very early—which was what Franklin Roosevelt sorely wished. The battle waged was valiant and by postponing our entry into the conflict enabled the U. S. to emerge from World War II with fewer casualties than any other nation participant. Pearl Harbor did not invalidate America First: on the contrary, when historians look at the machinations of the FDR administration to goad Japan to war, what happened on December 7, 1941 supported the fears of “America First.” Now as this nation is engaged in an agonizing reappraisal of the Iraq War, the words Bob Stuart writes and his insights are instructive indeed.

In 1938, Roosevelt’s New Deal began to fade into “a Roosevelt recession.” Before that happened, the president had been judged a conservative in foreign policy. Now, as the stock market sagged and unemployment rose, he began to warn of foreign aggression. He became especially became concerned with Nazi Dictator Adolf Hitler who spoke of the German people’s wish for more living space (“Lebensraum”) and initiated a private correspondence with a “retired naval person” aka Winston Churchill, out of power. The yen to stride across the world stage was entrancing.

. But FDR was frustrated; the Congress, propelled by overwhelming opinion, passed five different Neutrality Acts that forbade U. S. involvement in foreign conflicts. Most Italian-Americans and many German-Americans were Catholics and moved by anti-Communist considerations. Irish-Catholics abhorred the idea of helping British policies anywhere. Which meant that Roosevelt must gingerly, duplicitously, edge toward war while vowing to avoid it. All the same, he wanted to give heart to his international fellows and saw the perfect opportunity to make a pronouncement. In Chicago: where else?

In Chicago on October 5, 1937, he came to dedicate a portion of the Outer Drive bridge. The press had been tipped off that his speech would deal with the need to “quarantine” foreign aggressors. Covertly, Col. Robert R. McCormick, editor and publisher of the Tribune rented a huge billboard behind the speakers’ stand. A tarp covered it but underneath, painters were at work. When at noon the president approached the rostrum (with great difficulty due to his paralysis) and the cameras were focused, the tarp was pulled away and the crowd gasped. Some applauded. The billboard showed majestic white letters on a deep blue background that read: “The Chicago Tribune: Completely Undominated!”

Roosevelt turned and viewed the sign, saw that it would be in the background of every photo taken that day and smoldered. Later in Washington he held a news conference in the Oval Office and asked, “is Walter Trohan of the Chicago Tribune here? Would he stand, please?”

Trohan, deputy bureau chief, stood up. Roosevelt said, “Thank you, Walter. Now you may sit down. I just wanted to get a view of a completely undominated newspaper reporter!” Trohan told me the story personally a year before he died in Washington at age 102. The press group roared with laughter but understood that from that moment on, the struggle to keep the nation out of war was centered in one big city—Chicago.

But not for long. One McCormick cousin, Joe Patterson, owned the New York Daily News and another, Eleanor (“Sissy”) Patterson the Washington Times-Herald. McCormick and the two Pattersons started to throw the book at Roosevelt, charging he was seeking war, warning that the so-called “Neutrality Act of 1939” was legislation that sailed under false colors. It enabled warring Britain and France to buy armaments and munitions in the United States and extended cash-and-carry provisions that had expired six months earlier. Roosevelt used the mis-named Neutrality Act to extend “aid short of war.” As increased national defense spending began to revive the economy, there came the subtle Roosevelt strategy to repeal or further drastically revise the Neutrality Act. Grass-roots committees sprung up like mushrooms including one headed by small town editor William Allen White called, coyly, “The Committee to Defend America by Aiding the Allies.”

The New York Times and the Henry Luce press—Time, Fortune, Life—were beating the drums for intervention and Hollywood was getting into the act. Still, the polls showed 81 percent of Americans did not want war. The most fashionable foreign policy columnist of the time, Dorothy Thompson, was actively crusading for our entry into the war while her husband, Sinclair Lewis, had signed up for America First. A few organizations formed to oppose the war were pacifist. One was headed by socialist Norman Thomas. Non-pacifist American nationalists needed a grassroots movement to oppose the war.

It was at that psychologically right moment that a student movement to keep us out of war got a leader from Chicago—a young law student of 24 at Yale, Bob Stuart, whose father was a vice president of Quaker Oats and whose grandfather had been a company founder. The difference between his generation which opposed involvement in war and the much later grungy generation of unshaven, unshorn and un-bathed Hippies of the 1960s and `70s was like day and night. Then, bright, cogent and immaculately researched students vowed to defend America if it were attacked; in the `60s the grunge generation skipped to Canada. Today so-called “peace movements” are ineffective, camp out with Cindy Sheehan near Crawford, Texas, tool around with Al Sharpton and invite the president of Iran to berate President Bush and America in Harlem.

The grunge protests hit the nadir in the `60s when a disheveled, bearded effeminate youth held aloft a sign “Make Love Not War!” in front of California Governor Ronald Reagan as he addressed the crowd. With brilliant timing, Reagan read the sign aloud to the crowd: “Make love not war! I’m not sure this chap can do either!” to resounding cheers. Since that time, no grassroots movement protesting usurpation of executive power has been seen as clean, orderly, meticulous and reasoned.

As FDR moved toward war, Bob Stuart fashioned a committee unequaled in prestige. Earlier, in March, 1939 Hitler dismembered Czechoslovakia and stepped up pressure on Poland for Danzig and the Polish Corridor that separated the two parts of Germany. Then on September 1, 1939 he moved on Poland. In April, 1940, he launched his blitzkrieg against Denmark and Norway. Stuart believed that if America kept up its defenses it could avoid war. He did not believe nor does he now that the forces of Hitler’s aggression could possibly overtake the United States. He believed then as he does now that the up-building of a strong military is the best preventive of war. At no time in public polling did Americans prefer war. Rather sizable skepticism felt that war was viewed by policy makers as a stimulant to bolster the economy where the old New Deal had failed.

“My primary reason for believing that America should stay out of the war was simple,” Stuart writes in his memoir. “I had learned at Princeton that the United States had gained nothing from its intervention in the `Great War’ of 1914-1918. On the contrary, our country had lost a great deal. We had wasted lives, squandered treasure and betrayed some of our most sacred founding principles. More than 112,000 `doughboys’ fresh from the prairies and Main streets of Ohio and Kansas and Georgia had died horrible deaths in the killing fields of Europe. The war cost us countless millions of dollars (and broke the economies of Britain, France and Germany). At home, our government had curtailed civil rights and expanded federal power with abandon—actions that smoothed the way for the 19th Amendment to the U. S. Constitution, the calamitous social experiment known as Prohibition.”

So, “afire with antiwar convictions” he called together a handful of like-minded students at Yale and formed in spring, 1941 what would come to be known as “The America First Committee.” Four of them circulated a letter to collegians nationwide requesting their support in “forming a definite program to counter the forces that are leading the United States toward intervention in the European war.” Stuart’s wife, the late Barbara, then a 25-year-old mother, did the mailing and mimeographing. Stuart recalls, “The vortex of America First might have pulled other couples apart but it strengthened our marriage. In later years, Barbara had a few emotionally shaky periods but she was always at her best when she had a project—and overseeing a truly grass-roots movement to keep America out of war was one helluva project.”

Its first public announcement made these points:

1. The United States must build an impregnable defense for America.

2. No foreign power, nor group powers, can successfully attack a

prepared America. American democracy can be preserved

only by keeping out of a European war.

3. “Aid short of war” weakens national defense at home and

threatens to involve America in war abroad.

Stuart led the group on its first step—to obtain signatures on hundreds of thousands—potentially millions—of petitions. “Our general purpose,” the group declared, “is to give expression to the large but unorganized mass of American people who believe in defending America in the Americas, instead of forfeiting democracy by fighting abroad.”

All the while he ran the petition drive, Stuart, from an unused Quaker office at the Board of Trade building, met with Sears’ General Robert Wood, himself a brilliant quartermaster general of World War I and phoned and corresponded with a great number of leaders—elected and non-elected. Earlier he had gone to the Philadelphia GOP convention to try to nominate Sen. Robert A. Taft. His list of acquaintances was bulky: from Democratic Senator Burton K. Wheeler of Montana, a foe of intervention, to Republican Senator Gerald P. Nye of North Dakota, to then nationalist Arthur Vandenberg of Michigan, to Jack Kennedy who was handling the grassroots in Massachusetts, to Lillian Gish in Hollywood who was beginning to feel the sting of a blacklist, to Jerry Ford, the assistant football coach at Yale.

And to the leading Roman Catholic prelate in the United States who was unalterably opposed to our entering the war—Archbishop Francis Beckman of Dubuque. Fr. Charles E. Coughlin struck Stuart then—and now—as too extreme although through his newspaper Social Justice he carried a strong message.

The money was coming in. General Wood was raising money by the bucket-full. But “The America First Committee” was composed of clean-cut college kids and new grads plus a phalanx of grey-haired businessmen: not an ounce of charisma in a carload.

Then there came into the organization, America’s Number One Hero, a man Bob Stuart today calls “a one-of-a-kind phenomenon in our country’s history”—the Lone Eagle, Charles A. Lindbergh. How Stuart and Lindbergh worked—and flew together across the country—and how Archbishop Francis Beckman of Dubuque made a speech that electrified the country and got the fury of the Roosevelt Justice Department on his neck meting out retaliation that ruined his career—will be told in the next two installments.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Personal Asides: Supreme Court Justice Anne Burke Joins Roosevelt U List…Along with Multi-Millionaire Inventor Jack Roeser…At Roosevelt and Later on WLS: Stone and Canary.

Anne Marie Burke.

Illinois Supreme Court Justice Anne Marie Burke will discuss the legal system and the courts with my Roosevelt University class. Justice Burke is the third woman to serve on the state’s high court. A bartender’s daughter, she began her working career as a Park District employee and noted that the playgrounds were not hospitable to retarded children. She conceived the idea of a Special Olympics and joined with Eunice Kennedy Shriver to make the idea a national event. At the age of 40, as the mother of four, she enrolled in law school. Once she was admitted to the bar, she opened a neighborhood law center dealing with family law on the southwest side. Always interested in juvenile law, she became a special assistant to Governor Jim Edgar, dealing with problems attendant to the state’s program for children and family services.

She was named an Appellate Court Justice and in that capacity filled an unusual position—interim chairman of the National Review Board for the U. S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, an independent board that probed the priestly pedophilia scandal in the Catholic church. Showing independence as head of the Board, she and attorney Robert Bennett flew to Rome to share their findings with then Josef Cardinal Ratzinger, later to become Benedict XVI. The findings and recommendations of the Board laid out a thorough program for the bishops to rectify past scandals and chart a new course. Whether the programs have been implemented is another question. Needless to say, after having interviewed Justice Burke extensively for a series of newspaper articles, I’m delighted she has agreed to guest lecture. She will speak on October 12 at 6 p.m.

Jack Roeser (No Relation).

Republicans are divided on Jack Roeser—some love him and are prepared to follow him anywhere, others call him an obstructionist and ethics martinet…but no one has ever said that Roeser, a reformer (and not related to me) hasn’t put his money where his mouth is on the issue of supporting clear-cut candidates and programs which he hopes will rebuild the Illinois Republican party. Few know that the self-made multi-millionaire 82-year-old Carpentersville manufacturer and philanthropist…athletic and trim who pilots his own sailing craft and who on a few years ago won the grueling Mackinac sailing race from Chicago to Mackinac Island…is an engineering genius whose inventions have made jet plane flying safer and built thousands of jobs over the years for those who serve in his modern manufacturing plants and in the surrounding area. With personal wealth estimated conservatively at more than $100 million, he has poured rehabilitative funds into Carpentersville, restoring historic buildings and has ventured into Chicago’s inner city to supply financial and human resources to St. Elizabeth’s elementary school which was in dire need of such help.

A doughty social conservative, Roeser has headed a program to push vouchers in education. Dismayed by the venal “Combine” that links Democrats and Republicans in common cause to lobby and make money from politics in Illinois, he ran for governor in a challenge to incumbent Jim Edgar. He was a vigorous critic of George Ryan since long before the notoriety from scandals that convicted the ex-governor. As head of the grassroots movement Family Taxpayers, Roeser backs the removal of the GOP’s national committeeman (and national party treasurer) Bob Kjellander. Roeser’s topics will involve business’ social responsibility to improve the tone and efficiency of government as well as his initiative in launching a grassroots movement for political reform. He will speak on November 30 at 7 p.m.

At Roosevelt this Thursday: Stone and Canary.

On WLS this Sunday: Stone and Canary.

Guests at Roosevelt tonight in separate lectures and on “Political Shootout” this Sunday in joint appearances will be the Odd Couple. They are: Alderman Bernie Stone (50th), a good friend, chairman of the city council Building Committee and a man who years ago called Luis Gutierrez a “pipsqueak” which said it better than anyone elese…and Cynthia (Cindy) Canary, director of the Illinois Campaign for Political Reform, a statewide non-partisan education and advocacy project. I don’t regard Bernie Stone as a reformer but basically a hard-working, practical politician who doesn’t stint on his own time spent helping the city and his constituents. He also has a priceless ingredient for his business: a good sense of humor and a workaday command of language that is true Chicago-ese. I have never met Ms. Canary but will when the two speak, at different hours, at my Roosevelt.

As you know, any ex-leader of the LWV is automatically a friend of mine! And I’m told by Dr. Paul Green, her admirer, that the lady can take good care of herself. I only wish he had said that about me.

Ms. Canary was executive director of the League of Women Voters which tells you that she is indubitably a liberal. She is much interested in campaign finance reform and has interesting recommendations on that issue. She helped lead the League’s National Voter Registration Act in this state. She has also worked in the public education section of the American Bar Association (another liberal outfit) but comes highly recommended as an true reformer by many sources. The “Chicago Tribune” referred to her as “the state’s most vocal adsvocafte for good government.” She received her B.A. in political science from Hampton college and did graduate work at Georgetown University. She and her artist husband, Adam Brooks, have a 16-year-old son, Tyler. Her organization’s website has a lot of valuable information about the financing of all Illinois campaigns. I am just assuming Bernie, a realist, will not be as enthusiastic about campaign reform as she—but we’ll find out.

Flashback: Battles I Lost While Working for an Exceedingly Honorable Albeit Liberal Republican Governor—but Joys As Well.

[More from fifty years of politics for my kids and grandchildren].

Working for an exceedingly honorable, some would say lofty others would say crafty, governor…either a John Gardner-style reformer or a trimmer who forsook conservatism in order to build a kind of Third Way of governance, ignoring his party in the process…was fun, invigorating, filled with great memories and many, many lost battles. The most praise I can give my old boss, Elmer L. Andersen, is this: there was never a time…never a single time…when crass, quid-pro-quo politics intervened in his running state government: never once. None of his appointees was ever suspected of being on the take. No jobs were promised, no deals with contracts were cut. The office of contract compliance was in place and had served dispassionately from the day we walked in. While I was there, I shared workloads with the same Democratic and Republican professionals who had worked at the highest levels of state government for Republican Luther Youngdahl, Democrat Orville Freeman and us. The same budget specialists that advised Freeman advised us and advised our successors. They served us on the state capitol third floor and our soon-to-be-announced opponent, Karl Rolvaag on the 2nd floor. Whenever I consider the rabid partisanship that engulfed the George Ryan administration, I marvel at the almost pristine innocence of those years.

The contrast between that Minnesota and this Illinois stunned me when I returned to my home state in 1964 and to see the grunting, inexpressibly ultra-partisan skirmishing carried on by Dick Ogilvie and his group to scale the heights of the governorship. Patronage and contracts were the only things that seemingly mattered. One thing I have concluded: Minnesota’s state government then had no scandals because it had a firmly entrenched, clean civil service system with only a handful of jobs available to elected officials—jobs they were rather careful to fill with well-qualified individuals who could serve well…precisely because there were so few political jobs available. Illinois, a prime patronage state, has a civil service system that is evidently a laughingstock where qualifications are winked at too often which make mockery of those who are highly qualified. With Minnesota’s, if you ever tried to hire a relative or friend who was unqualified…or who was asked to perform a distinctly political service…you were sure to be found out, indicted and go to jail. Likewise, I can clearly state that there was no scandal in Orville Freeman’s administration either, or major scandals whatsoever in Minnesota government going back to the early days of the 20th century.

But I promised to tell about the battles I lost, didn’t I?

The non-partisan, anti-party belief of my boss, who shirked his party responsibilities, drove me nuts. All executives, presidents and governors, should, intentionally…as is their right…name jurists who share a general philosophy with the governor’s party. Andersen was the first and only Republican of any stature who was determined to keep a “bipartisan balance” on the state courts and regulatory agencies instead of naming qualified people to uphold a party’s philosophy: it was stunning to me and still is. Walter Judd had a particularly vehement opponent in past years, a highbinder personal injury lawyer Joe Robbie. Robbie, a Lebanese, was an itinerant political junkie and hustler but also a kind of entrepreneur who often couldn’t pay his bills. For a long time, politics was his undoing. He ran for South Dakota governor twice unsuccessfully. He moved to Minnesota without a dime, ran twice for Congress against Judd unsuccessfully. After the second loss to Judd the old charlatan who was also a brilliant attorney when he concentrated on it, needed a job. He applied to Andersen for the job of head of the Minnesota Municipal Commission, a regulatory agency to succeed an old DFLer who retired. Nobody questioned that Joe had the ability to do the job—probably better than it had been done before. But his views were not in keeping with Andersen’s party and Robbie was clearly seeking the job as a tide-me-by until he could either run against Judd again or do something else in DFL politics. Therefore the naming or Robbie was an insult to the Republicans.

There was no question that Andersen wanted to name Robbie. Robbie was indeed a good municipal attorney but I asked him: isn’t there a Republican municipal attorney just as good as Joe around? Believe it or not, Andersen wanted to keep what he saw as a “balance” in government, a liberal to replace a liberal. I said, “has it occurred to you that Joe wants to run against Judd a third time and this job will keep him in the public light?” Andersen said so what: he was a good lawyer and he would keep the “balance.” .

I said: “Balance? Don’t you understand that the nature of our two party system is to replenish governmental agencies from time to time with those who have different approaches? That’s the so-called `balance’ Governor. Have I missed something in poly sci class? Gee whiz!” I lost; he made the Robbie appointment. Judd told me: “Elmer’s trying to woo the liberals but I’ll tell him this—that never works.” He was right. Robbie later quit, used a Chicago banking connection, a friend of Humphrey’s, to move to Florida and round up some financing in Miami where there was no sports competition. It was all paper clips and scotch tape with Robbie who often once again couldn’t pay his bills. He raised $7.5 million himself, overcame a pro-football embargo and bought the Dolphins in 1965 and hired Joe Shula. Their phenomenal Superbowl record caused them to name the stadium after him. To the end his was fighting off creditors and competitors, one of whom was entertainer Danny Thomas, a fellow Lebanese, who sought to displace Robbie with a group of investors. Robbie narrowly survived. He died in 1990. The stadium’s name has been changed.

A second battle between Andersen and me involved an appointment to the state Supreme Court. Frank Gallagher, an old DFLer, was slipping physically and mentally. The chief justice wanted Andersen to have coffee with him and suggest he consider retirement. Andersen did but the old man wouldn’t have anything to do with the idea. Then Andersen suggested that if Gallagher retired he’d appoint another DFLer, Bob Sheran, a prominent lawyer and former state Senator—a DFLer—to the post. Gallagher loved the idea and made plans to clean our his desk. I blew up—this happening right after Robbie. I told the governor: If I wanted to help the DFL, I would have accepted Hubert’s original offer to work for him years ago. This appointment of Sheran means that a young DFLer will be on the Court for years to come. “Yes,” said Andersen, “but you have to admit that Sheran is a top lawyer.” Sure he’s a top lawyer, I said. Don’t we have any young top lawyers? I think, I added, you’re really a DFLer at heart, Governor. “No,” he said, “I want to preserve the balance on the Court.” I asked: Is this what Republicans thought they were getting when they voted for you?

That was scathingly rude and I shouldn’t have said it. No answer. He wasn’t a DFLer but thinking of himself: Andersen. He was really thinking that it would help him with the DFLers in Mankato. It didn’t. He taught me a prime political lesson: if you don’t remember your base, when you run again they won’t remember you. They didn’t.

These were the battles I lost—all over the governor’s failure to understand he should build up his party. The fun things involved the decision of the old Washington Senators to move to Minnesota and become the Minnesota Twins. The governor was supposed to officially welcome Twins owner Cal Griffith to the state with a meeting in his office. I enlarged it to a huge public reception after talking to Griffith. He concurred that he would give free tickets to the opening game to all pairs of twins who showed up at the Capitol for the reception. I announced it to the media and the rotunda was jammed with twins, ranging from 2 years old to 96. It got national media attention. “That’s what you good at,” the governor said, “rather than giving me hell over my appointments.” Wrong. Somebody should have given him hell about those appointments and nobody wanted to but me.

Another fun thing involved our program to help Minnesota Indians on the reservations with good state programs in nutrition, anti-alcoholism, child welfare and sanitation, all which were sadly lacking. The governor and I made several trips to the reservations. Hubert Humphrey, jealously watching our progress, blasted us from Washington with a press release that accused us of capitalizing on Indian misery for political gain. When I got the acting head of the Chippewa tribe to respond in a story that was run banner-line under the head “Indian Leader Rips Humphrey for Cynicism” there was silence from the Senator. Then a letter arrived at my desk a week later in an envelope from Humphrey’s Senate office. It contained the clipping circling the Indian leader’s statement and bearing the notation in his handwriting: “God, Roeser, if only white people could write like that!” It showed that he was aware of where the rejoinder had originated—but it was in good humor and showed that in this battle we won round one.

When I made a routine trip to Washington, D. C. as the 1962 political season started…to visit the GOP delegation as liaison man for the governor…I was informed by my secret DFL moles that Hubert had taken over practical management of the Rolvaag gubernatorial campaign. He was determined to do all he could to elect a governor as prelude to a future attempt to run for president. His plan: Of course he would support the Kennedy-Johnson ticket for reelection in 1964 but he believed, correctly, that Johnson’s heart problems might well detour his running for president in 1968 and Humphrey wanted to become the nominee that year when he would be 57 years old. To gain credibility as a Democratic leader he needed to win back the governorship for a DFLer, Karl Rolvaag, in 1962 to be followed by Walter Mondale by the time Humphrey would make his third pass at the presidency in 1968. An insider in the DFL in Washington told me: “Roeser, you guys have Humphrey’s undivided attention. He feels he must retake the governorship in 1962. Watch it. He’s attempting to figure out how he can devise a so-called scandal.”

There were no scandals and would be none with our clean-as-a-whistle administration. But how Humphrey invented a scandal that never existed shows the raw machinations of this at once lovable but formidable…even grimly opportunistic…political figure.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Personal Asides: Tom Dart to Guest Lecture at Roosevelt U…Becky Carroll Rescheduled…Marty Marty and the Crusades.



Democrat Tom Dart who is just about as certain to be elected Cook county sheriff next November as anyone can reasonably expect, will guest lecture at my Roosevelt University class. Smart and personable, Tom was an assistant states attorney and a superb state legislator. He got the Democratic nomination for state treasurer but Judy-Judy-Judy cut a deal with Rep. Bobby Rush among others and Rod Blagojevich, supposedly close to Tom, pulled a disappearing act on the race with the result that Tom lost to Topinka. Tom should have been made state commissioner of corrections but was not by his one-time friend Blagojevich, unaccountably. However, he went on to become chief of staff to Sheriff Mike Sheahan. There he has supplied great acumen and ability to the point where the sheriff endorsed him as his successor when he determined not to run for reelection. Tom will speak on November 9 at 7 p.m.


Becky Carroll, spokesperson for the Governor’s Office of Management and Budget who is one of the most adept and adroit expositors of state government in the Blagojevich administration, has been re-scheduled for a lecture at my Roosevelt class on October 12 at 7 p.m.

Marty Marty.

Reverend Martin Marty, a professor emeritus of religion at the University of Chicago, is one of those guys who was born to sit on a dais. He has received 64 honorary doctorates and has written well over forty books which have been well-reviewed in contemporary liberal journals. A Lutheran former senior editor of the “Christian Century,” one of the nation’s oldest trendy left Christian publications, he and his magazine especially under the Rev. Jim Wall, Marty Marty’s friend, have taken a decidedly Arabist point of view concerning the Middle East. Wall and Marty Marty who look somewhat alike are always dissatisfied that Israel has not made more commitments, Marty is not known particularly for the religious ideas he espouses but for his political stance.

Marty Marty’s son, John, has followed him in this and has been even more activist—moving to the Roseville suburb of St. Paul and becoming the most liberal State Senator in the state. Following his father in theatrics, John when he was a DFL candidate for governor, voted in defense of flag-burning and was rather tempered when a group of VFW veterans in uniform demanded to see him on the issue. They really didn’t get far in trying to see John as he is not known in Minnesota as being interested in confrontation with angry war veterans. John is a thinker not a fighter. He lost the election, of course.

Nor is the man known as Marty Marty known to be a particularly heavy fighter or thinker—just a pop campus religious figure not unlike the late William Sloane Coffin. Like Coffin, Marty Marty has always been in the forefront of opposition to any military campaign in America’s interest: from the earliest days of the Cold War to today. It would be instructive to imagine where we would be if the nation had listened to Marty Marty down through the years, from Truman to Reagan. We would not have won it; although Marty Marty still does not recognize that we won it.

Yesterday, appropriately, the newspaper that has not yet figured out what it believes so on most matters it splits the difference, the “Chicago Tribune” published Marty Marty’s Op Ed on the controversy between Pope Benedict XVI and the Muslims. You would expect that Marty Marty would take the side of the Muslims in this controversy, would you not? No, he eschews beheadings but he said they have a point concerning the terrible atrocities the Christians—then Catholics—committed in the Crusades. Appropriately, Marty Marty picked a book, different from many others, which is tough on the Crusades and Crusaders—but that is not surprising, is it? A good number of books have justified the Crusades but Marty Marty is banking that most Op Ed readers wouldn’t know them. Like “The Sword of the Prophet” and “Hatred” Kingdom.”

Recognizing that carnage and killing happens in all wars, the same question can be asked about Marty’s position anent the Crusades as Marty’s position regarding the Cold War—and that is, what kind of world would we be living in if the Crusades had never happened? The Crusades bought Europe time i.e. if Godfrey of Bouillon, Richard the Lionhearted and others hadn’t waged their fight, the jihadists would certainly have swept across Europe easier and sooner. Crusader armies occupied them fighting for Antioch and Ascalon rather than Vienna. None other than Edward Gibbons saw the possibility of the Koran being “taught in the schools of Oxford.”

While the Crusades didn’t accomplish what they set out to do but supplied the steel for the West to overcome the jihadist advance. The Muslims were turned away from Malta in the 16th century and failed in their siege of Vienna in 1529; they won against the Poles in 1672 but lost what they gained ten years later. They tried to rape Vienna again but were turned back by Poland’s King Jan III Sobieski on a fateful day that marked the crest of Muslim expansion in Europe—September 11, 1683.

Not that all this means a thing to Marty Marty who lives with equivalence in foreign policy even if, in this Op Ed, he denies it. The wars meant something to Gibbon just as they mean nothing to Marty Marty. When I say the Crusades made the full flowering of European civilization possible, Marty Marty…always looking for a good sound byte…would say: “full flowering of European civilization but wasn’t there too much suffering and carnage at a time when so many underprivileged were not treated as equals?” You see what I mean? You can never make a point with Marty Marty because his view…turned as it is against all history…is nihilistic. He should be designed for a statue in Madam Tussaud’s Wax Museum. Not the big one in London; the little one in Vegas will do. His figure in dramatic pose with hand upraised to make a point will illustrate the truism that it’s possible to be educated beyond one’s intelligence.