Tuesday, January 16, 2007
ADDRESS TO THE WHEELING TOWNSHIP GOP: II
(Continuation of my keynote address to the Wheeling Township GOP last Saturday; Part I ran on this web-site yesterday. In the first installment, I listed the three top Republican candidates for presidentJohn McCain, Rudy Giuliani and Mitt Romney. Then I turned to the Democratic offerings.)
That makes three top Republican contenders for the presidency to face with the alleged best the Democrats have beginning with a man I happen to know pretty well, Barack Hussein Obama.
In Hollywood years ago, somebody asked Oscar Levant how long he had known the singer-actress Doris Day. He answered: A long, long time. Before she was a virgin. Doris Day started out in Hollywood as a teen-age dancer, then sang with big name bands Les Brown and Tommy Dorsey and married and divorced three times acting as a sharp-eyed little fox before breaking into films with a complete makeover as a freckle-faced, blue-eyed kid from next doorwide-eyed and innocent, singing Que Serra Serra whatever will be will be, the futures not ours to see, que serra serra.
The futures not ours to see is right because it was only a few years ago when I was getting phone calls from a guy who would say, Hey, big guy. What are the chances of getting on your WLS show next Sunday? It was from a guy hungry to get on the radio and far from the distant, reflective seemingly intellectual man-of-the-future. Who would possibly imagine that this eager state senator would become the number one or number two front runner for the Democratic nomination for president of the United States? Needless to say hes no longer calling me big guy to see if he can land a spot on my radio show. He has 6- or 7-figure media savants to do this now.
All the same, he announced his candidacy for Congress on my showagainst Bobby Rush. He said he was going to introduce a bill in Springfield that would be a springboard to the Congress. I forgot what it was; he undoubtedly has as well because the next thing we knew he was absent from Springfield and absent from Chicago. Where was he? I asked Bobby Rush, a former Black Panther who had narrowly missed being assassinated by one of the Cook county Democratic partys finestStates attorney Ed Hanrahan, whose storm troops fired round after round of gun fire into Fred Hamptons apartment, killing him and who had gone looking for Rush but had just missed him when he left his apartment. I asked Bobby why he was worried as to where his opponent, Barack Obama was. He didnt answer but I deduced that some may have been worrying that Obama had been rubbed out.
Not likely. It turned out that the incipient Democratic president of the United States, incardinated into destinys hall of fame by Lynn Sweet of the Sun-Times had felt that being struck in the legislature during a severe Illinois winter was hardship so he took off for the state of his birthHawaii. When he came back he had missed several snowstorms but also a chance to go to the House. Bobby Rush beat him like a drum.
Now Barack Hussein Obama is destinys tot, posing in deep thought, with a forefinger to his cheek as the possessor of all solutions to our national and international problems. Maybe sobut before he gets a chance to solve our problems, he should answer some questions he has neglected for some time. It involves his religious background. Before there arises a cry that this is unfair, recall that John Kennedy had to answer forthrightly in 1960 as to whether he would obey the call of his nation over that of his church. He answered those questions in his speech to the Houston Ministerial Society, saying that he did not assume a difficulty would come up but if it did and he had to make a choice, he would resign the presidency. That ended the controversy.
Barack Obama can end the controversy as well. His office seems to regard any questions of a possible earlier religious commitment as unfair. Not so. If he can answer the question as completely as Kennedy did, he deserves to move up to the next level.
Question No. 1: When you were a youth, you went to a Muslim school for several years. Did you ever embrace the Muslim faith then and later renounce it?
Question No. 2: Do Muslims have any reason to believe that you were once of their faith and have rejected it?
Question No. 3: Was there ever a time when people would have reason to believe you were a Muslim? The fact that Hussein is your middle name is one reasonthe name of Mohammads grandson whose date of death is regarded as a high holy day in the Muslim faith.
Question No. 4: Do you realize that the Koran specifies that anyone who was a member of the Muslim faith and rejected should be done away with?
There should be no attempt to wash away the specifics of this question as has been utilized earlier with generalities such as Christians, Muslims and Jews all worship the same God. Yes we do but that obviates the specific.
This does not mean that questions need not be directed to presidential candidates of our own party and nows the time to ask them. As I said earlier, by the polls and by the numbers, the most electable ticket for Republicans would be, as Steve Forbes has also said, a ticket of hero John McCain and hero Rudy Giuliani. It would be an ideal ticket if Giuliani could answer the questions about his three wives and survive. If he can do so, he should be equated with Harry Houdinis feat in 1929 when he escaped from a strait jacket while encased upside down in a padlocked diving capsule 200 feet under water in New York harbor.
Question No. 1: How is it that as a meticulously prepared prosecutor who went to court superbly prepared to respond to any defense argument and a mayor who could recite from memory pertinent statistics about New York that scholars had to look up, you married your first cousin without knowing she was your first cousin?
Question No. 2: How is it that your choice of a second wife was so radically inappropriate that she took the lead in the Broadway show The Vagina Monologues so as to embarrass you while you were mayor?
Question No. 3: How is it that your judgment went so far askew as to try to sneak in a mistressultimately Wife No. 3in to Gracie Mansion without your wifes knowing which prompted Wife No. 2 to get a court order barring you from doing so?
Question No. 4: How can you support your contention that you can supply this nation a strong program of internal security when you failed to keep your own campaign strategy document from being left behind in a restaurant where it was picked up and publicized by opponents?
As to John McCain, there are only two questionsbut they are sufficient to cause him some mental torment.
Question No. 1: Is commentator Ken Bode right he was Dean of the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern and one-time moderator of Washington Week in Review that you formally acknowledged your own adultery was the cause of the breakup of your first marriage which your ex-wife has described as you thinking you were a 20-year-old again?
Question No. 2: Is the rumor correct that one of the reasons you asked for a divorce from your first wife is that while you were in the Hanoi Hilton, she suffered an automobile accident which robbed her of health and, to some degree, looks which led you to decide you did not love her any more?
All these questions are permissible, gentlemen and not to be dismissed as unfair, personal, racist or intruding on the privacy of religious conviction. These questions will be asked in the general election campaign so you might as well answer them now.
Now as to Illinois. Are Republicans to be mesmerized by the phenomenal success of the Democratic party here? A Democratic party that has a governor widely despised by most factions of his party who is under serious probe by the feds for corruptiona probe extended to the governors wife for favors she allegedly received from Tony Rezko and the full storys not divulged yet.
A Democratic party that has a state treasurer endorsed by Barack Obama who has admitted granting loans to Outfit figures and defending his action by saying the mobsters were good loan prospects. A Democratic party that has as its Cook county board president a man who will not even hold a seat on the board he supposedly governs who appeared on my radio show long after he was nominated and admitted he had yet to crack open the countys budget book.
A Democratic party that has two warring factionsthe party whose Speaker and state chairman wants to continue the energy price cap and a party with a Democratic Senate president who is in opposition a party that has a tarnished reformer as Lieutenant Governor, who has criticized almost everybodys lack of ethics but that of his highly investigated boss, the governor a lieutenant governor who might very well succeed to his bosss job this year. Just today I saw my first bumper sticker which read: Governor Quinn in 2007. Its a Democratic party that says maybe Quinn in 2007 but never to be elected on his own as Lisa Madigans daddy isnt about to leave it there and who vows a primary fight for the job in 2010.
This is not to say we Republicans havent made mistakes in Illinois. Eighteen years ago I taught a refresher summer course at Loyola for high school instructors who needed to brush up on civics. Once a week I led them through a practical course in political science and noticed a hefty, 250 lb. guy sitting in the back, twirling his glasses, raising and lowering his eyebrows, pursing his lips as if he were about to say something and then apparently changing his mind.
He made no comment and asked no questions in the course all summer long. At the end, he came up to me and the fellow I was co-teaching wit and said, Hi. Im the wrestling coach from Yorkville High who won All-State a few years ago. I also teach history. This politics sort of interests me. You made me decide that Ill take a trip sometimes to Washington, D. C. on a field-trip.
For those who wondered what happened next, he did go to Washington on that fieldtrip and when he came back, he helped out as an unpaid intern to his state senator. When that senator died, he ran for the job told wrestling stories but finished third. When the winner moved on and the local committee had to name a successor, it named him because it liked the wrestling stories he told. After he went to Springfield, his local Congressman suffered a stroke; the Congressman was comatose. The Congressmans wife agreed to have him kept like a vegetable on ice until the unconscious Congressman got re-nominated. Once re-nominated, he conveniently died.. And the party structure named my old summer student as nominee. And he won.
When he went to Washington, he was, of course, a back-bencherbut he fascinated Bob Michel, the Republican leader, with his wrestling stories. It developed that he could schmooze not say much but twirl his glasses as he did in my class raise and lower his eyebrows .purse his lips like he was getting ready to say something profound but never did. This schmoozing stuff plus his stories got him places in the House.
Bob Michel quit, Newt Gingrich and the Contract with America won control of the House and a new team entereda bright team: Newt, a Ph.D in history as Speaker, Dick Armey, a Ph.D in economics as majority leader, Tom DeLay, an owner of an exterminating firm in Texas as majority whip, Bob Livingstone, a descendent of the man who swore in George Washington and a veritable encyclopedic expert in the House as appropriations chief. When DeLay, known as the Hammer aggravated Republicans to whip them into line, he got the bright idea to send in my old summer student who could schmooze to patch up the hard feelings. He got so good at it that he became DeLays deputy and shared an office right next to him in the Leadershipso whenever DeLay would beat up on a reluctant Republican, my old student would go in and tell funny stories, listen to his grievances, raise his eyebrows, twirl his glasses and purse his lips as if he was going to say something profound but never did. It worked! And soon he got known as Denny the Healer.
One day while he was walking to his office in the Capitol, he stopped to schmooze with a guy when there were shots bang-bang-bang-bang coming from DeLays and his office. The shots came from a nut who invaded the office and killed a very nice Capitol policeman who was a favorite of DeLays. The episode changed DeLay very much. He wept often, got very nervous and irritable. Dick Armey and Newt Gingrich told him he should take some time off and relax. The only way he knew how to relax was to play golf and he particularly loved to play golf on the course where the game had been foundedSt. Andrews in Scotland. So the Republican leadership said, okay, to Scotland you shall go. They found a lobbyist who could rig up a non-profit educational outfit to pay the expenses over there so DeLay could make a speech to the four winds and the putting green at St. Andrews and enjoy the salt air all paid by the non-profit outfit. The lobbyist who fixed it up was Jack Abramoff. That was one of many failings that happened to the class of 1984. Only one.
All of those who had failings were very smart guys. Newt, the Speaker with the Ph. D in history was not satisfied with being Speaker but tried to peddle a book he had written and college lectures he had designed on audio and video tape an extra-curricular activity similar to the one Democratic Speaker Jim Wright had done with a bookfor which Wright was criticized by Newt. The tactic didnt work any more for Newt than for Wright and there was ethics sanctions and a fine levied. And there was more. Newt was fooling around with a woman in the House. They decided to get married: that was to be Wife Number 3 for him.
That kind of extra-curricular work writing books taping videos and audios of lectures fighting for the right to sell the same and running around with a woman not his wife takes timeso the charge emanated that the Speaker wasnt very responsive to his members. They claimed he was preoccupied, not listening to themwhich he was when you come right down to it. So his one-time friends including Dick Armey formed a putsch to get rid of him which almost workedbut didnt. The putsch was uncovered and Armey lied, saying he wasnt involved but it turned out he was so his credibility was shot. The next election, Republicans lost some House seats. The surviving members blamed Newt. Newt agreed to resign and go to the private sector to make some real money. Who to succeed him?
Some thought the best choice was Armey, the Ph.D in economics. But his credibility hadnt improved and Armey decided to retire and go out and make some real private sector money. The next in line was Bob Livingstone, the brilliant guy, the parliamentary wizard, the descendent of the guy who swore in George Washington. But Livingstone was having an affair with a female lobbyist and his wife told him hed either quit the House or shed quit him. So he did the honorable thing for a pro-family guy and quit the House.
All the while, Tom DeLay was being studied and studied by the Ethics committee and by a Democratic prosecutor in Texas who didnt like DeLay trying to reshape the congressional districts in his state. So when Newt wanted to quit, when Armey wanted to quit, when Livingstone had to quit, who was next? They looked around and saw my old summer student who didnt have any enemies who was a schmoozer twirling his spectacles, raising and lowering his eyebrows and pursing his lips as if he was about to say something important but didnt. That was how my old summer student who had never been to Washington when I first met him Denny Hastert became number three in line to be the president of the United Statesright after the vice president. And I ask you: is this a great country or what?
That was the old politics as it is played on both sides of the aisle in Illinois as in Washington. The people deserve better. This year lets go for a new politics which is really only the old common-sense. And lets start by understanding as Republicans that things are not as bad as we think. First, we have a president who is bound to rank with the great ones of the ages because of his determination to win in Iraq. Second, the 2006 congressional elections were not a smashing repudiation but a regular cyclical movementnor were the results that devastating. For ten years now both parties have ranged from 47% to 50% in popularity in Congress and 2006 wasnt materially different.
Third, let us resolve that in order to get anything done, the White House has to work with Democratsbut what kind of Democrats? Not the Left in the futile hope that well look a tad more progressive and change our image, toadying up to popular issues as McCain has just done by introducing a global warming bill with Ted Kennedy. But lets resolve to work with the Blue Dog Democrats, the conservative type just as Republicans used to do in the days when we were a permanent minority nationally and congressionally.
Fourth, we have extraordinarily good candidates for president. Let us move with the one with the least baggage if not perfect on all particulars, at least with no ball and chain affixed to his ankle.
Fifth, I defer to no man in my distaste for the way Bob Kjellander made his millions, even if legal but if a fiery chariot should sweep him up today and ride away with him either to Valhalla or Perdition, things would not change as to what we must do. In the last weeks, the crusade against Kjellander has taken on the aspect of Capn Ahab in a rowboat trying to harpoon Moby Dick the great white whale. It was a hate-filled mission that caused the death of Ahab and most of the crew of the Pequod. Kjellander has said he will not resign; there is no way whatever legally that he can be brought to resign so let us understand that the State Central committee has voted and let us allow destiny to take over. We have more important things to do.
Which leads to the sixth: the launching of a statewide program of rebuilding a political organization from the precincts up which will absorb the energies we have been using to beat ourselves up.
If we will pick ourselves up stop wringing our hands over our sorry estate stop bickering with ourselves and start organizing for future victory the future will take care of itself which is the way progress has always happened anyhow. So cheer up, wipe away the tears push good people for office and enjoy the prospect of the Democratic party roaring over the precipice with all those fine people on boardDick Durbin, Rahm Emanuel, David Axelrod and a list as long as your arm.
One final ingredient is needed for us to turn things around. That is inspiration.
On that day seventy years ago when they picked FDR up literally, he picked up his party figuratively with the three sentences that Tommy the Cork wrote for him. They apply to us now.
There is a mysterious cycle in human events. To some generations, much is given from some generations much is expected. This generation of Americans has a rendezvous with destiny.!
Many years later I asked Corcoran (in his old age a conservative Republican voter, repentant of his liberal past and still young enough at heart as a white-haired widower to be dating the comely Anna Chenault, the beautiful, 50ish Chinese-born widow of the ace of the Flying Tigers) how he came to write those sentences. He said: Theyre from the Old Testament. I thought them commonplace. But when he delivered them, his party and the audience of 100,000 took heart particularly after witnessing his awful fall and his gallant recovery and took them as inspiration to the nation.
Let us pick ourselves up from our fall and so conduct ourselves that
whenever they meet, men will always say this Republican generation won
the war on terrorism, gave our nation another of its finest presidents and
the free world its finest hour.