Friday, June 22, 2007

Personal Aside: It Occurred to Me Yesterday in Springfield


I rarely go to Springfield but I went there on an intelligence mission—not lobbying venture—for a client. There with a relaxed dinner I looked at my tablemates…a bright young independent Democratic legislator…a talented advocate from an agency in the governor’s domain…and a very astute youngish Republican. Add to this an African American civic leader from Chicago and me…old…a veteran of many political wars with the scars to prove it.

As we sat around I heard everybody analyze why the deadlock between the Democratic governor and the Democratic legislature. It sounded very complicated. But then as we went around the table, it was obvious that if all of us were empowered to negotiate…and had at our beck and call a tall pitcher of cool iced tea…we could arrive at a satisfactory decision in about an hour…an hour and a half max.

As we went around the table, it is obvious there are only so many options that can be taken that give the Governor something…not all but something…Speaker Madigan something—not all but something…and President Jones something—not all but something…along with the reasonable views of House Minority Leader Tom Cross and a slice or two of views from Senate Minority Leader Frank Watson.

In essence: when you look at the options any reasonable group of people could iron out a compromise so that everyone could have some trophy or other but not the whole enchilada. And so as I went to sleep that night at the Abraham Lincoln, I wondered why if it would be so easily done for us—different people, different ages, different demands—why could it not be with the leadership.

And of course the answer is clear. It’s not testosterone as faultily charged but the desperate need to posture. And posturing, let me point out, is endemic to the political condition if half the components or all of them were women as well. If the media were to vacate to other things, for example, leaving just a skeleton crew around the Capitol…with the hot summer wending on…you’d find them dropping the posturing and settle it quickly.

Ergo: the media ever-present, playing on the political human condition of savoring posture, contributes to the problem.

Why don’t the newspapers and television decide to let the wire services cover it…and pack up all the gear and go home, leaving just a very few bare-bones communicators around? Just enough to report in concise fashion what the agreement is…and allow the analyses to wait until after everhybody departs? It’s the damned analysis…Madigan flinches…Governor barks…Jones won’t budge…that keeps everybody at nose-to-nose length in impossible postures.

When the editors call the analysts home, you will find it won’t take long until this bunch wraps it all up and goes home. In other words, this is the anticipation of a winning media event that blocks progress.


  1. Tom,

    I think that it's a bit more than just the posturing that keeps the pot boiling down here in Springfield. The Governor has such a bad relationship with the legislature and its leaders that I doubt that Rod could get them to pass a bill in favor of God, Motherhood, Apple Pie and the Flag.

  2. The other man seated with Uta Hagen and Peter Lorre is actor Richard Carlson, but who is the other woman? Carlson was a fairly good film actor, but he never really broke out of "B" pictures.