Monday, April 30, 2007
Personal Aside: Joe MooreYoure a Brilliant Arguer but Your Obama Defense Wont Scour .George Ryan and Abortion.
The WLS radio show last night saw me get a little exercised with my old friend and liberal advocate Joe Moore (49th ). First, he is very exercised about the cruelty that is being meted out to ducks and geese which was behind his ordinance that banned foie gras. At the same time, he is exclusively concerned with safeguarding the health of mothers in the partial birth abortion ban which was upheld by the Supreme Court. He keeps saying its between the woman and her doctor with no place reserved for unborn life in contrast to a national poll which shows that 67% of Americans, now that they understand the horrific procedure, oppose partial birth abortion. Finally he says he favors keeping abortion safe, rare and legal. Why rare if an interrupted pregnancy is no more serious than removing, say, an appendix?
On the issue of Barack Obama and slumlord Tony Rezko which has been spotlighted by the Sun-Times, I have been on record as saying that this is standard operating procedure for many politicians winking and pretending ignorance when unsavory people raise money for you or ask you to do legal business for them. If Joe had said this I suppose it would have passed muster. But he invented an entire new rationale with which to defend Obama who is his choice for president. He says that Obama doesnt have to know the record of a person like Rezko and can be excused for knowing it because Obama was a state senator. Incredible as it sounds, if Obama had been an alderman, he should be held accountable for receiving funds from a slum-lordbut Obama wasnt: he was a state senator. The fact that Rezkos unsavoryness was well known, that Rezko was a neighbor means nothing in the argument to Moore. It sounded to me like if youre a state senator even one who campaigned for better housing for the poor in his district if youre a state senator you should be excused from responsibility of knowing all about Tony Rezko.
It is significant that even Obama does not make that claimnor does David Axelrod! It sounds like to Moore, an alderman has a much higher responsibility to safeguard against receiving support from slumlords than would a state senator or U. S. Senator. Perhaps we will signify this as the Joe Moore Rule. The higher you go up the ladder the less liable you are to criticism from receiving dirty money but if youre an alderman you should know better.
Joe, in the studio I was trying to conjecture how that argument could ever scour and I couldnt nor do I now. It fails because Rezko was not an unknown quantity when Obama ran for the state senate; his slumlord activities were known, especially when Obama did legal work for him. I am sure Axelrod & Company are busily devising another rationalebut essentially the answer is this:
Politics is a business that is unsavory. I learned that in the 1950s and have seen the unsavory-ness in both parties. I would definitely encourage my kids not to get involved in any professional sense, notwithstanding that I did for many years in a staff sense. Carol Marin has wiped rhetorical tears away because she is looking like Diogenes for the perfect liberal candidate. When much younger than she is now much-much younger I decided that politics is an acquired taste and that purity is a relative term. All those whom I admired have, when the wind blows from the north, have an odd smell to themlike the breeze used to be coming from the Union Stockyards. All of them including Lincoln and Reagan. That doesnt bar me from supporting those whom I believe are bright, conscientious and right for the country. But to mistake public life with vocation in a monastery or convent, forget it. And if any of my kids so much as decided to run for assistant deputy township auditor, I would go into mourning. I have seen too much to be sanguine about the ability of one to save his/her soul in that kind of enterprise.
All you have to do is to take a look at Big Jim Thompson, the once pure U. S. District Attorney, a brilliant man, extolling Don Stephens to know what Im talking about. That and serving as the auditor watchdog who fell asleep at what used to be a pretty good newspaper. No exceptions.
My friend Jim Merriner, who was a political writer for the Sun-Times, is writing a book about George Ryan focusing on what Merriner believes is Ryans saving grace: his freeing prisoners from death row. Like Marin, Merriner is a liberal who has a tendency to elevate to the highest pinnacle of selflessness one who does in public policy what Marriner desperately wants to be done. In this case, fighting the death penalty.
In the book, Merriner will tell quote me as saying that George Ryan, in a tough election, used Henry Hyde and in a sense was used in return by Henry Hyde to try to get social conservatives to vote for Ryan on the pretext that a redistricting under a Democratic governor could do away with Hydes district. I know that this was Ryans strategy and I know it was Hydes strategy: an accommodation which would serve both men. Use of Hyde as a front was designed to get social conservatives voting for Ryan rather than for Glenn Poshard who had a stronger record on pro-life and gay rights than Ryan since Ryan had passed the word to pro-aborts and pro-gay rights people that he was on the way to selling out. Use of Ryan was a front for Hyde to try to forestall gerrymandering he feared. In that deal, the art of the deal was everything no transcendent issue. Self-preservation.
Because politics is inherently unsavory Hyde for lent his name to the effort to keep his congressional seat and Ryan glommed onto Hyde. And all the while he was talking to us, Ryan had consummated a deal with the other side on abortion and gay rights. That shows that he is about as filthy a politician as one can get which the record amply shows anyhow: lying like a trooper and betraying every promise he ever made on life, gay rights, OHare expansion you name it. And what I get a kick out of is his getting red-faced and indignant about it. The baron of bluster.
Thats why in a world where justice is often delayed but occasionally meted out, it is my hope that this gruffian gets the reward to which he is entitled.