Wednesday, August 15, 2007
Roves Decision to Quit Will Affect Republicans in Illinois.
Reprinted from The Chicago Daily Obsever.
By Thomas F. Roeser
Karl Roves announcement that he will quit the White House to rejoin private life will have some repercussions on President Bushand on Republican politics in Illinois.
Rove is the most powerful White House operative to serve a president since Harry Hopkins commanded FDRs ear for most of Roosevelts 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 Wilsons, was demoted from Wilsons friendship when the president began to act erratically before he suffered a severe stroke. In contrast, Rove has been George W. Bushs 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, Bushs 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.
Roves absence will also hurt the Illinois Republican National Committeeman Bob Kjellander who, largely due to Rove whom Kjellander befriended early in Roves 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 finders fee of $4.5 million.
It was not illegal to receive a finders fee although the legislature has since passed legislation to ban such payments. In 2003 he was involved in another state pension deala $10 billion bond deal with Bear Stearns that got him a finders 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 dealwhich triggered probes by the SEC, the Illinois attorney general and the governors 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 Bushs 2004 campaign.
Details were sealed but there is a rumor that Kjellander is considered to be Official K in Patrick Fitzgeralds 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 peoples 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 Id 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 its grossly reminiscent of Captain Ahabs 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 hasnt smote anybodyand 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. Theres something about obsession in Kjellanders enemies that concerns me more than Kjellanders 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 officers knee and tossed out of the stockadebut Im too old to care. Ive 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 Roves 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 hed appoint only an Illinoisan as U. S. Attorney for the Northern Illinois district. Peter went out and did the opposite which angered Rovebut 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 Hugos 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 Scooters jail sentence but is wrong not to have pardoned him completely. There, hows that for being complicated?
So whats 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 Roves clout to be used by Kjellander. I imagine that sooner or later Kjellander will quit (not be indicted: thats 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: hows that for alienating everybody and pleasing none?