Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Rove’s Decision to Quit Will Affect Republicans in Illinois.


Reprinted from The Chicago Daily Obsever.

By Thomas F. Roeser

Karl Rove’s announcement that he will quit the White House to rejoin private life will have some repercussions on President Bush—and on Republican politics in Illinois.

Rove is the most powerful White House operative to serve a president since Harry Hopkins commanded FDR’s ear for most of Roosevelt’s tenure (1933-45) and Colonel Edward House served Woodrow Wilson (1913-1919). Hopkins fell out of favor with the president toward the end of World War II and House, who was not a government employee but a friend of Wilson’s, was demoted from Wilson’s friendship when the president began to act erratically before he suffered a severe stroke. In contrast, Rove has been George W. Bush’s political and governmental mainstay since the 42nd president was governor of Texas.

The departure of Rove will deprive Bush of one of his most loyal aides and one who has been given large credit for putting Bush on the path to the White House and, particularly in 2004, building a strategy that had him win reelection despite the unpopularity of the Iraq War. Without Rove at his side, Bush’s relationships with his party may well continue to decline since Rove was the one official who could gain respect with the Republicans due to his immense power in the White House.

Rove’s absence will also hurt the Illinois Republican National Committeeman Bob Kjellander who, largely due to Rove whom Kjellander befriended early in Rove’s career, attained a berth of considerable power nationally in the party. Currently Kjellander is vice chairman of the 2008 convention in charge of arrangements and spent several weeks recently in St. Paul, Minnesota where the convention will be held. Kjellander has been controversial with Republicans in Illinois and has been blamed by some conservatives for his work as a lobbyist which they maintain is a conflict of interest. Beginning in 2002 the Republican-connected Carlyle Group hired Kjellander to get a $500 million investment from the state teachers’ pension fund. He did and received a finder’s fee of $4.5 million.

It was not illegal to receive a finder’s fee although the legislature has since passed legislation to ban such payments. In 2003 he was involved in another state pension deal—a $10 billion bond deal with Bear Stearns that got him a “finder’s fee” of $800,000. When the General Assembly looked at it, neither state officials or Bear Stearns could produce any kind of documentation showing what Kjellander had done on the deal—which triggered probes by the SEC, the Illinois attorney general and the governor’s inspector general. Things got worse later when a whistleblower lawsuit in 2004 alleged that a Bear Stearns broker had helped secure the contract for the firm through a criminal kickback scheme. The broker was Nicholas Hurtgen who was also a Pioneer for Bush’s 2004 campaign.

Details were sealed but there is a rumor that Kjellander is considered to be Official K in Patrick Fitzgerald’s list. Is he? Who knows? Nothing more has been heard of it but Fitzgerald is not known to be over-concerned about timing and what it does to people’s nerves (he let Rove hang out there in the so-called Valerie Plame “leak” case, costing Rove several millions of dollars in lawyers’ fees; Rove was never indicted.). But Bob Kjellander has been the bete noir for some Republican conservatives who pin all him everything that has gone wrong in the Illinois GOP and beyond…possibly including the West Nile Virus.

I had said that if I were Kjellander I’d resign and that I understand some GOPers’ anger at him since he is allied with the Jim Thompson-Jim Edgar-George Ryan wing of the party. But at the same time to dramatize him as the cause of all evil is, I think it’s grossly reminiscent of Captain Ahab’s obsessive fury at the white whale Moby Dick except that maybe Ahab had a reason to be upset since in an engagement with the whale, Ahab lost his leg (which was replaced by an ivory peg). So far as I know, Kjellander hasn’t smote anybody—and the idea that the Republican party will never be the same unless Kjellander leaves it is ridiculous. For one thing, Kjellander was elected to his job by the State Central committee; and when Steve Rauschenberger ran against him, Kjellander won hands down.

If this tells you that I am a friend of Bob Kjellander, I am and enjoyed sitting with him on the Paul Caprio Family PAC cruise. There’s something about obsession in Kjellander’s enemies that concerns me more than Kjellander’s continuance. It smacks of un-health. If Kjellander goes and is replaced by, say Mike Stokke, the next crusade will be that we have to get rid of Mike Stokke. It smacks of a substitution for good hard organizing work by personal demonology. Having written this, I expect I will have my epaulets pulled off, my conservative sword broken over an officer’s knee and tossed out of the stockade—but I’m too old to care. I’ve been a conservative longer than most of those people have anyhow (most of `em came aboard with Goldwater; I was on hand at the railing to help `em up the gangplank).

Having allowed that Rove’s departure will hurt Kjellander, will it also hurt the Illinois GOP? Well, I would imagine since Kjellander can pick up the phone and get hold of Rove any time he wants. But I question whether Rove is all that sage anyhow. He is supposed to have thought that Judy Baar Topinka would be the logical candidate for governor. Rove is an acknowledged enemy of Peter Fitzgerald, who I think was one of the best senators Illinois ever had. Rove is the one who tried to make Peter promise that he’d appoint only an Illinoisan as U. S. Attorney for the Northern Illinois district. Peter went out and did the opposite which angered Rove—but I think Peter did the right thing in picking Patrick Fitzgerald (no relation). I think Patrick was good for Illinois, in sending that corrupt, bulbous nosed old scoundrel George Ryan up (or I hope he goes up)…although I think Patrick resembled Inspector Javert in Victor Hugo’s “Les Miserables” by ignoring the confessed leaker, ordering the leaker to remain quiet while he ferreted out Scooter on another lie that did not have relevance to the original quest Fitzgerald embarked on. Thus Bush was right to forgive Scooter’s jail sentence but is wrong not to have pardoned him completely. There, how’s that for being complicated?

So what’s the upshot: (1) Bush will be the loser for not having a brilliant guy like Rove at his side; (2) Kjellander will be the loser for not having a friend like Rove in a high place; (3) Illinois’ GOP will be a loser in not having Rove’s clout to be used by Kjellander. I imagine that sooner or later Kjellander will quit (not be indicted: that’s a guess) and (4) my friend, no relation, Jack Roeser will be the loser not to have Kjellander to kick around anymore. But this will enable Jack and others to possibly turn all their energies to building up the Illinois GOP…where the party will be the winner. There: how’s that for alienating everybody and pleasing none?


  1. I am a Taft Republican\Ron Paul supporter and by no means a neoconservative, so you can imagine how fundamentally I disagree with you on some very important issues.

    But I do agree with your analysis of the irrational Kjellander obsessed self-defeating Republicans who have a hard time finding something bad to say about Rod Blagojevich, and in fact mock the governor's critics.

    Your statement "I’m too old to care" about their criticism says it well, for me too.

  2. Rove isn't going out-to-pasture. I think he's in Huckabee's campaign. Rover and Huck met when Huckabee was a pastor in Texarkana. I heard Rove engineered his gubinatorial bid for AK.

    ["I think Patrick was good for Illinois, in sending that corrupt, bulbous nosed old scoundrel George Ryan up (or I hope he goes up)…"]

    I had to double check...which Tom Roeser was writing...something positive about Patrick Joseph Fitzgerald, Jr. Was it Tom Roeser from Otto Engineering, or Tom Roeser from Quaker Oats? That's nice of you.

  3. Well Tom you show just how little you know about Karl Rove. Or maybe you just don't give a damn in your dottering elder years!

    Remember it was Rove who cooked up the plan to bust apart the winning Reagan coalition of social conservatives and "Reagan" democrats. He sought to REPLACE the social conservatives with the Hispanic vote..... A FAILURE THOMAS
    Get. It is time to have your name removed as an honorary director of the Rockford Institute! Tom you are becoming a first class Hypocrite! But then you are just a transparent compromiser.

    The public has had enough of the likes of YOU, Bush, the neo-cons, and Rove.

    The populist rebellion against the Immigration Bill proved that.....

    Go back to your good Catholic ways of teaching "them" English.