Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Personal Asides: Rosalie Doherty and the Choice for Life…Newt, His Genius-Half Now Dominant, Gives the Iraq Study Group a Brilliant Test.

st pats
Rosalie Doherty.

Sunday afternoon we went to a truly memorable affair. My old buddy Jay Doherty, president of the City Club (of which I am its chairman) christened his second child, Rosalie, at Old St. Patrick’s near the Loop. Old St. Patrick’ is the mother church of the Cook county Democratic party, which is fitting since Jay, by his own proud testimony, has never voted Republican in his life. Looking around in the church and at the reception at Gibson’s later, composed of so many of the A-List of the Democratic party and liberaldom, I think I can honestly say that my wife and I were the only Republicans…well, perhaps we include Jay’s father who couldn’t have been elected years ago as a McHenry county board member had he been a Democrat—but I suspect party identification for him at the time was a justifiable and prudent camouflage. Just about all the crowned heads of Cook county’s only viable political party—the Democratic—were there: including assessor Jim Houlihan, Alderman Burt Natarus a host of other public officials, scores of fund-raisers and contributors, many foot-soldiers and the twin leaders of the “Sun-Times,” Chicago’s official Democratic newspaper of record, John Cruickshank and Michael Cooke. If the roof of Gibson’s had fallen in on those crowded at the bar and supping delicious roast beef and turkey, Mayor Daley would declare a week of mourning for the crème of his party would have been expunged.

What made the christening and attendant party ineffably memorable was the fact that Rosalie is a gorgeous child who will need assistance since she was born with a slight imperfection…but nevertheless indelible…that will require her to receive her parents’ care for so long as they shall live and beyond…in fact, as long as she shall live. In this day and age where our own earthly convenience is everything, secular moderns, upon receiving early news that their unborn child might not be perfect, have the option of abortion to spare themselves of troublesome rearing, using as excuse the euphemism that only perfectly healthy lives deserve to be brought into the world. That is not the way with the Dohertys who have accepted the tender responsibility it entails and who invited all of us to share their joy of parenthood.

Let me tell you that Colleen Doherty, Jay’s wife, is a special treasure, she sharing with us her beautiful philosophy as tears of joy and resoluteness flooded her deep and exquisitely beautiful eyes. Her testimony on the support Jay gave to her when they learned the news came with such beautiful force that you could hear the clichéd veritable pin drop in the place. Sister Rosemary Connelly, the famed Chicago nun who runs the highly-acclaimed “Misericordia Heart of Mercy” which is dedicated to help children and adults with developmental disabilities, spoke in a moving way about the blessing that Rosalie Doherty will make in leading Jay and Colleen to heaven—where Rosalie herself is assured to go as the beneficiary of lifelong innocence.

It was a memorable, life fulfilling and inspiring afternoon which renewed our gratitude that we know Jay, his beautiful wife, their healthy 2-1/2 year old son Jay, Jr. and the matchless, auburn-haired newly born Rosalie. These days when many proclaim themselves pro-life…and some truly are…it is more important than ever to recognize that Jay has always accepted the Democratic party’s mantra on pro-choice—but given the choice God presented to them, he and Colleen opted for life. Their shining-eyed little Rosalie validates the beauty of their choice.

Newt’s Test.

Long ago when he was a back-bencher in the House…and came to Chicago to address a small group at my Republican Assembly of Illinois…Newt Gingrich was already carrying the tattered mantle that Winston Churchill wore in the 1930s: that of an adventurer, a dangerous man because he was imbued with ideas rather than shouting comfortable clichés. He was strikingly on target when he spoke to the RAI that day. While far from the House leadership, he spoke of the need for his party to develop a comprehensive blueprint to take over the House…which later came to be known as the Contract with America. As he ticked off the various issues, it was clear he could become the brilliant legislative leader America needed then.

He joined the leadership in a putsch where he dethroned Speaker Jim Wright for profiting unduly on a book. Unbelievably, later, as Speaker, Newt tried to sell his audio-video TV college courses and books to earn himself remuneration part-time while he sat in the presiding chair, the eccentric factor came out…defending himself by saying that he had written a truly brilliant opus where Wright had not. True, Newt, but the distinctions were not apparent to the outside world.

An eccentric affair and marriage number three sealed his fate. Now he is back at the genius mode again: the only public official who has issued the congressionally-supported Baker-Hamilton Iraq Study Group with a series of questions that go to the heart of their inquiry. Baker-Hamilton was concocted by a group of weakling Republicans and Democrats in Congress who want the pragmatic magician James Baker III to spin a convoluted strategy to get us out of the problems or Iraq and allow us to fail to carry through on our responsibilities. As with everything Jim Baker has done, his image glows foremost, evidenced by the Sunday newspapers where he is cited as the potential wonder-worker who will unscramble the omelet that George W. Bush has dished up.

Yesterday, Newt asked eleven questions of the Baker-Hamilton group, composed of such powerful foreign policy experts as Sandra Day O’Connor and Vernon Jordan. Question 1: Does the Commission have a vision for success in the larger context against the dictatorships and fanatics who want to destroy us? Anyone who knows a thing about Jim Baker understands that he doesn’t and it doesn’t. The fact that Iraq is a single campaign within a global war against Islam and dictatorships that seek nuclear and biological weapons hasn’t penetrated to Baker who is a short-term fixer. Question 2: Does the Commission recognize that the second campaign in Iraq has been a failure? Just as the first, which removed Saddam Hussein, was a brilliant success, the second, to provide security to the nation, has been thus far a failure. Unless Baker-Hamilton recognize the failure of the second phase it cannot recommend a successful third campaign.

Question 3: Does the Commission recognize the scale of change we will need to adopt to be effective in a world of enemies willing to kill themselves in order to kill us? This would require more than changes in the military but how we use our intelligence, economic strength and communications to achieve victory recognizing that there is at present a shattered system with many players scrambling to enhance their positions. Question 4: Does the Commission understand the consequences of defeat in Iraq? importance of victory? It is almost a surety that Jim Baker, the short-term fixer with scotch-tape and paper clips, does not. We are involved in a worldwide power struggle with those who want to defeat us: Iran, Syria, Venezuela, Cuba, North Korea and with movements that want to kill us: al Qaeda, Hezbollah, Hamas. Time is not on our side but on the side of our enemies seeking nuclear and biological weapons to use against the civilized world.

Question 5: Does the Commission understand the importance of victory? Baker has been called in to be the architect of a quick and easy retreat and victory is not in the cards for him…because his entire career has been antithetical to such absolutes, relying on the abjectly manipulative.

Question 6: Does the Commission define what it means to win or simply find a face-saving to lose This is the biggest question of all and the one that the media understand inherently that Baker has not the slightest interest in. He has been appointed by Congress and aided by the George H. W. Bush people to scuttle the war and find a politically dexterous means of losing. Question 7: Does the Commission acknowledge that winning requires the need to think regionally and even globally? No, for reasons applicable to #5 and $6. Question 8: Any proposal to ask Iran and Syria to help is a sign of defeat: does the Commission recognize this? Not in the slightest since these strategies are already baked in the Baker cake. Question 9: Does the Commission believe we can do a deal with Iran? Baker, a born Neville Chamberlain who ruled for leaving Saddam Hussein where he was under G.H.W. Bush, believes so as do the compliant (at this stage) media.

Question 10: Does the Commission believe we are more clever than our enemies? Unquestionably: Baker is supremely confident as was Neville Chamberlain via-a-vis Hitler, Chamberlain believing Hitler was a dumb paper-hanger but was hood-winked by ill-kept pacts and solemn hand-shakes. Question 11: Does the Commission recognize the importance of working with centrist and conservative Democratic majorities on a strategy of victory? Baker’s habits in the past have been to compromise with the Left which are where the power fulcrum of liberaldom is located. His earlier deals on the economy…where he prevailed on George H. W. Bush to break his no-tax hike pledge and foreign policy where he prevailed to save Saddam Hussein. These issues have won him short-term salutes by the media, which is of greatest importance to him: his sense of where he belongs in history. Everything with Baker is short-term because he cannot think beyond next week.

While he lusts after compromise to assuage the Left, cooperation with the Democrats’ Blue Dogs is possible and certainly more realistic: although that is not where the media are interested, something of great moment to Baker who wants his reputation to rest on his role as the Great Compromiser.

As a preface to his eleven questions, historian Gingrich recast the problems of George Washington at Valley Forge where his forces had dwindled to only 4,000 effective men, survivors of a total of 6,000—the remainder too sick to go into battle. Faced with declining morale and desertions, the collapse of political will and overwhelming sense of despair as well as a revolt in the Continental Congress, Washington determined to cross an icy river to take the battle on Christmas Eve to a professional opponent. It led to a smashing victory on Christmas Day and a surge of enlistment of volunteers which spurred him to win the second engagement at Princeton. Gingrich asks this: If there had been a Baker-Hamilton Commission set up then, would it have emboldened Washington to strike on that icy Christmas Eve? You know it would not.

These eleven questions…served up by Gingrich in his genius mode… should not just be given to the shaky, inexpert Baker-Hamilton Commission but to President Bush whose own morale may be uncertain (who could deny it with the battering he’s been taking?) and the general public. The great buildup the Commission has received…locally from our local establishment press Washington pundit wanna-be, Michael Tackett of the “Tribune” who echoes his model, David Broder (never in doubt but seldom right), requires that Gingrich’s eleven questions be studied and circulated. In fact, if he keeps this up and steers away from the flaky stuff, Gingrich may succeed in being an indispensable resource for 2008—if not as president, at least as a key fomenter of strategy. Nuts he was sometimes in the past…as was Churchill—but not now.


  1. Tom,

    Your discussion of Newt and Baker is wonderful. However, your history is a bit shaky. Washington left Philadelphia in 1776 to attack Trenton on December 26. He spent the following winter, 1777-1778, in Valley Forge.

  2. ...all require a yes or no response.

    Newt doesn't have a clue, other than using the military as a calvary to drive the "Indians" from control of territory desired by western corporate interests.

    If you think America will accept that, you weren't awake on the first Tuesday of November.