Friday, February 8, 2008

Personal Asides: My Interview on Black Radio…McCain’s “Calm Down” Not Exactly What the Doctor Ordered…Lessons from the Book “Grace and Power.”


WVON Radio.

My longtime buddy and former sparring partner when we were on Chicagoland public radio, Cliff Kelley, has become, as many of you know, the authentic voice of the black community and has been celebrated as such because as a former alderman he knows the political situation intimately and is extraordinarily well-spoken, witty and perceptive. Yesterday he called me for comment on his WVON radio show on the decision by my candidate, Mitt Romney, to withdraw.

Whether he reached me at a down time or not I cannot say, but it happened just after I had my daily dose of Limbaugh. Hearing that whining and egregious self-justification and puffery…ballooned by an ego that pretends it is kidding but which is truly not and is instead struttingly braggart…it occurred to me that the blindsided right deserves to have a President Obama and a reinforced Democratic majority. The blindsided right of the conservative movement which brooks no compromise or accepts any deviation from the talk show-crafted dialectic…the blindsided right which has been behaving like a spoiled child, dissatisfied with Romney (too opportunistic), with Thompson (too lethargic), with Huckabee (too liberal on spending), with Tancredo (too single issue oriented), with Hunter (not charismatic enough). And certainly with McCain (an untrustworthy scoundrel).

Yes the full-mooners of the blindsided right richly deserve to get Barack Obama. After bitching about all the deviations from orthodoxy, they ought to find out what it is to live under a 97% liberal president (basis “National Journal’s” analysis of his voting record) as I did for the first 20 years of my observant political life (FDR’s 1933 to the end of Truman 1953) along with a increased Democratic House and Democratic Senate.

This came to me as I was listening to Limbaugh while behaving myself (on my stationery bicycle). Ensconced in New York behind his “golden EIB microphone” the man who never went in for politics as a youth but is nevertheless the oracular know-all, the expert on the intricacies of voting phenomena, with a well-paid staff (“Mr. Snerdly”) pulling up commentaries from which he can sample…the man earning $30 million a year with 20 million adherent listeners…hugely enjoying himself (“more than a human being has a right to”). Then a ditzy ditto-head woman called to bend his ear for many minutes telling him why although a lifelong Republican she would never, ever, vote for McCain. Which the great guffawer hugely enjoyed. Listen, said the ditto-head, let me tell you about McCain. You say he’s a war hero? Right: listen, Rush, so was Benedict Arnold! .

Get that? Benedict Arnold. Did he challenge her? Of course not. The oleaginous blindsided Mouth kept her on, soothing her, saying uh-huh supportively, savoring every moment, not agreeing with her but guzzling it down with her adulation (“Oh, Rush-Rush, what would we do without you?”). Said he: Oh I don’t know m’dear, God would raise up another prophet to earn $20 million just like me. Benedict Arnold. You’d think someone who didn’t serve in Vietnam would have the grace to defend one who did and who refused repatriation from his captives because he wanted no favoritism as the son of an admiral. But no, that never occurred to blindsided and blindsighted El Rushbo, swollen as he is with his own narcissism.

Arnold (1741-1801) was indeed a wounded veteran—a hero figuring in the capture of Ticonderoga, the battle of Valcour Island, Danbury and Ridgefield culminating in Saratoga. But character was his flaw; when he felt he was not honored enough, indeed unjustly criticized, he changed sides and obtained command of West Point in order to surrender it to the British, fleeing down the Hudson to avoid capture by Washington, escaping to England where he received a commission as a brigadier general and the equivalent of $500,000 in reward for his treachery. No difference between McCain and Arnold. Those who read my day-to-day recounting of Gene McCarthy who vowed to get even with an LBJ who didn’t promote him to the extent that he torpedoed plans to win the war…those who have read this may see a hazy contrast to a talk show host who, dissatisfied with the electorate, vows to spread dissention so the cause he insists he represents will be maimed. No difference. Ego uber alles.

For all the good he has done, blindsided Rush is rapidly destroying it now…refusing to acknowledge that for all his puffed-upedness the Republican electorate repeatedly picked McCain. He cannot accept the will of the voters who disagreed with his estimate…along with the blonde anorexic harpy with knee-length hair who tosses it so beguilingly as a TV talking head, Ann (“I will campaign for Hillary Clinton”) Coulter…and the doe-eyed girlfriend of the right with the fingernails on blackboard voice, Laura (“I don’t care; I won’t vote for him”) Ingraham. Only slightly wrose and more improbable are the Ron Paul idolaters ready to canonize their cranky hero who wants the highways to be privatized, the FDA abandoned with people allowed to discover for themselves what poison they are eating, all troops to be brought home tomorrow and a shrug to his adolescent geek followers when they smoke pot and stoke up with pills…the same Ron Paul whose old newsletters spewed out anti-Semitism and anti-black hatred which carries the imprimatur “Ron Paul” and which he declines to own up to. In true “open minded” libertarian style he doesn’t disavow his newsletters, doesn’t extol them. They’re just expressions of points of view. We call it liberty. I call it invincible ignorance.

They are 19th century rear-view visionaries who tout the Death of the West, who wants legal immigration to be halted for ten years and after that a definite quota so we can have white, “Christian” admittees and a return to Hamiltonian out-of-date high tariffs, swift withdrawal from battle spots. All these deserve what all of us may well get—the accession of Barack Obama. It would almost be worth it to hear them whine when it comes. So intellectually dishonest are they that they will never acknowledge their baby highchair antics, furiously shaking their spoons of oatmeal at the adults, caused it to happen. All of these overpaid, spoiled rightist brats and braggarts can take a flying leap and plunge to the bottom of hell so far as I am concerned.

There are many things wrong with John McCain. For me nothing is more suspect than the hint…just a hint…that he may regard my key issue, pro-life, as less than significant, based on his reported statement courtesy Bob Novak that Sam Alito wears too much his colors on his sleeve. Still it is sure that the Pascal Wager must be applied in this case. I mean to pursue him on it. But given the certainty of pro-abortion judges being appointed by Obama and the possibility, maybe probability, of pro-life judges by McCain…who but an un-rational person would harm the chance of winning. But significant vestiges of the extreme conservative wing is ditzy—just like the Benedict Arnold lady. For proof you don’t have to go far. They are the ugly spawn of mal-education and a shock jock mentality where views are all black and white, blather-mongers to whom compromise is repugnant and evil.

They truly are bringing down upon themselves—and all of us—the Barack Obama presidency, a presidency where the only joy we will have is to listen to their future clangorous wailing while exempting themselves from blame for the predicament they have brought to us. What a scurvy crew.

And if you say that I am intemperate at their intemperateness this is right: a taste of their own medicine.


It can be said truly that John McCain does not know…has not the faintest conception…of what it takes to heal any rupture. His remark to conservatives the other day that they should “calm down” is case in point. When you seek to make up with your wife whom you have wronged or have been unjust to…just as McCain has been on “McCain-Feingold”…you don’t say, “calm down.” You say: Jeez, I’m sorry. What can I do to make it up? Does this man have no tact whatever? Did that curt bluntness and snappishness come from the Hanoi-Hilton or was it instilled at birth?

Lessons from the Book “Grace and Power.”

This is the book I told you about earlier…immaculately researched…written by Sally Bedell Smith…and is entitled “Grace and Power: The Private World of the Kennedy White House.” When you hear the strains of Camelot you should recall the lessons of this book. She interviewed 140 of the survivors of that era…old JFK girl friends, drinking buddies…now all of them quite old. Here are some of the lessons I learned.

The Martin Luther King Bugging. Did you wonder how in the world a pristine liberal like Bobby Kennedy would sanction J. Edgar Hoover bugging the bedsprings of Martin Luther King to ascertain whether or not he was a Communist but which also uncovered a list of adulterous goings-on?

Saturday, October 26, 1962: Investigative reporter Clark Mollenhoff of the Cowles newspapers (Minneapolis Tribune, Des Moines Register and Look magazine) has sniffed out the facts on the mysterious deportation of a call girl named Ellen Rometsch, 27. a fetching brunette who had emigrated from East Germany and was suspected of spying for the Soviets. She was married to a West German air force sergeant posted to the embassy in Washington, she worked nightly at the Quorum Club at the Carroll Arms hotel. It was a smoky and dimly lighted hideaway where congressmen and lobbyists gathered to enjoy the favors of beautiful young women—for money. And Ellen Rometsch was a call girl. Wearing a tightly fitted dress and black fishnet stockings she worked as a “hostess.” According to Baker, she was escorted to the White House several times in 1962 for assignations with JFK.

The FBI’s Hoover was worried because she was getting to be every bit as dangerous as Judith Cambell Exner on whom Hoover had the goods—a lover of both JFK and the mob boss Sam Giancana of Chicago. Now investigative journalist Mollenhoff was on to the story—and Bobby Kennedy, tireless defender of his brother’s reputation was worried keenly because Britain was rocking over the disclosure that Harold McMillan’s secretary of state for war, John Profumo had confessed to an affair with one Christine Keeler who was also the mistress of high ranking Soviets and who was a courier, fitted to transfer state secrets to the USSR. Profumo resigned and later McMillan was forced to step down as prime minister.

Bobby figured rightly that Ellen Rometsch could blow the top off of the White House and he wanted her deported. So he went to FBI Director Hoover: the FBI and Justice were investigating Bobby Baker’s far-flung enterprises. Hoover signed the papers and had her deported, noting that Rometsch was also carrying on with LaVern Duffy, an investigator for Bobby who had owned up. Hoover felt that she was involved with JFK and Sen. George Smathers (D-Fla.) as well. Mollenhoff the journalist wanted Sen. John Williams (R-Del.) to hold a public investigation of Rometsch’s sexual contacts. After a great deal of haggling, Hoover said he would kill the Williams investigation. He went to Williams and said he had no proof of Rometsch’s ties with JFK but he did have proof of her ties to certain senators. =Whether this was the plain proof or a bluff we don’t know because Hoover took this with him to the grave.

But what we do know is that Hoover convinced Williams that it would be impolitic for him to conduct a probe that would uncover some of Williams’ senatorial colleagues to great fanfare. Williams agreed to scrub the probe. In quid pro quo Hoover demanded that Bobby give him authorization to wiretap the phones of Martin Luther King. It was a shameful price to be paid but Bobby paid it fearing that his brother John would be turned up as a patron of Ellen Rometsch.

And that’s the name of that tune. How does the song go? “Let it not be forgot/ That for one brief shining moment/ there was Camelot!”

More anon.


  1. To forfeit an election contest due to a division in the ranks is deeply troubling. Consider the price that America paid when Theodore Roosevelt bolted from the Republican Party after he had lost the nomination to his successor, William Howard Taft, in 1912. Eight years of Woodrow Wilson resulted and the USA marched off to a foreign war that many Americans opposed.

    In 1988, Ross Perot quarreled with George H. W. Bush and helped propel William J. Clinton to two terms in the White House. It is time to rally round the flag. We can ill afford to let history repeat itself.

    As for all of the radio broadcasters, the truth is that Romney was not their first choice for the nomination, they embraced him after the other entries stumbled. I strongly doubt all of these pundits were with Romney from day one.

    Romney's most effective speech of the campaign occurred when he announced his withdrawal. Had he made this speech several weeks earlier, he may have won more contests. I am not inclined to see his defeat as being premised on religious grounds, he was too indistinct and nondescript too often -- and I was prepared to support him over McCain. Playing to the center/right did not help him. McCain also used Huckabee to outflank Romney in Iowa and West Virginia. If Romney had two more states in his column, the race might still be on.

  2. If Romney is a Republican Party First Patriot for picking up his chips and exiting stage right, what does that make Hucksterbee and Doc Paul?

  3. elizabeth alexanderFebruary 8, 2008 at 9:37 AM

    Thank you for your comments on Rush and company. I think he has been the most divisive force in the country for years. Coulter, with her bitter tongue and outrageous attire, is another.

    I couldn't agree more. They hurt, not help.

  4. You are attacking every one who has supported the Republican party for years while you cozy up to John McCain who has clearly and purposefully crossed over to the Democrats many times. I have listened to you on the radio for years but now you are different. Why?

    I am a conservative who believes that we should not be over spending. I believe in lower taxes which Senator McCain did not vote for. In order to fund the Iraq War, President Bush is funding many Democratic things for votes. Is this right? The deficit is ballooning under him. Is this good?

    I believe that if you want real homeland security that you must control the borders and immigration. Senator McCain is very soft on this issue. How can you be soft on the border and so hawkish in a war sense? And then President Bush is religiously following a free trade path that is harming once strong Republican areas in Ohio, Michigan, and Indiana. Is he not pushing these people toward the Democratic Party by doing so? Isn't part of homeland security, having economic security?

    And then you use this Benedict Arnold metaphor. It seems to me that you are now the Benedict Arnold because you now go against conservative values which you are willing to dismiss in the name of politics. Haven't such political games been the problem all along? Do you also want to share in President Bush's historically low approval ratings too?

    You now despise and demonize Rush Limbaugh because Mr. Limbaugh correctly points out Senator McCain's repeated and severe failings as a Republican.

    Mr. Roeser with due respect, the problem is with you not Rush.

  5. Are some of you so blind that you cannot see? Can one imagine a greater horror than the mass murder of MORE unborn helpless human beings? Do you wish to install soviet socialism on our country? Please realize that Hillary / Obamanation is the end of the USA.
    Sober up!

    Larry- Tienes la cara de un perro!
    Sincerely from the heart of my bottom.

  6. McCain, who I didn't support will get my vote.


    Because John McCain as President is the far better alternative to those two on the Democratic side.

    I am a conservative first and foremost.

    John McCain is the most electable of those running for office that share a subset of my conservative views.

    The alternative is disaster.

  7. I guess there are a few lessons to be learned from this.

    First, the peasants are not qualified to have an opinion on who is elected to represent them unless they've screwed up race relations royally by enforcing upon us racial quotas in government. If you haven't screwed up a government program, you're not qualified to speak about government.

    Second, representatives are not the people's representatives to government. They are government's representatives to the people, so you better just shut up and fall into line.

    Third, it's not the candidate's responsibility to win over voters. It's the responsibility of voters to vote for whoever the government sticks on the ballot.

    Fourth, you must not judge a candidate based on his or her past. Their most recent speech, though it may contradict the candidate's history, is what is to be believed.

  8. Fifth, the best way to win over skeptical voters is to insult them and mock them. That should get them marching door to door for your desired candidate.

    Sixth, sometimes it's OK not to vote for the candidate you've been given, if you don't like that she smokes too much or plays some ridiculous musical instrument. But disagreeing vehemently with the substance of a candidate's historical positions on important issues does not qualify you for failing to endorse said candidate.

    Seventh, you absolutely have to vote for one of the two major party candidates. You can't vote Third Party or decide to sit at home. This is America! The Land of the Free! You must vote for one of the two candidates the government tells you to vote for. This is a democracy!

    Consider yourself educated, Limbaugh and others. That ex-bureaucrat who used to have a Saturday column with the liberal paper in town and the vast radio audience in the 8PM slot with the same callers week in and week out is more in touch with the pulse of the conservative than the guy with the 20 million listeners.

  9. Lovie's LeatherFebruary 9, 2008 at 9:14 PM

    Tom, you seem to not pay attention well enough to Rush Limbaugh with all of your rage. What the woman said on the show was that "Benedict Arnold was a war hero... before he became a traitor." That does not imply that McCain is a traitor yet... but if you ask me, he really is getting there....

    Now, as somebody who supports small government, freedom, the bill of rights, less taxes, decentrilization of abortion policy, a nation that actually has borders, etc, I do believe John McCain has betrayed America... did he go join the British...? no, he joined the Democrats. It doesn't seem to matter who gets elected, because I share very little with either McCain or the democrats. Either way, things get worse. And what do you care, Tom? You had an opportunity to improve the situation in Illinois in '06, but were you against that. Now why does the liberal insider Senator carry more weight with you than somebody that actually managed a governmental office
    (instead of making a career of voting) that happened to disagree with you on two issues? I honestly can't wait to see McCain get destroyed... by his own words at that.

    A McCain presidency will have the same outcome as a Hillary presidency anyway. More taxes, more spending, government regulated healthcare (even more so), the punishment of the "evil" drug companies, blaming humanity for the global warming farce, more illegal immigration, liberal activist judges, and social control in the name of "good health" (my biggest pet peeve).

    Nothing that John McCain says is going to make me think any different. He has a record, his presidency would have the same if given the opportunity.

  10. Wouldn't it just have been easier to tell us to "calm down" and look for the areas where we can agree?

    Really, you are sounding just like Mr. McCain and it is not appealing. I support your right to an opinion and respect that this is your blog but we have learned little from our own state here.

    Jusy Baar Topinka is the "moderate" in Illinois and like McCain we were asked to rally behind the party. She was trounced by one of the most ineffectual and corrupt politicians in State history. The same will happen to McCain. Quit asking people to settle. This is not sour grapes or ego. It is a SERIOUS misgiving about the qualifications (or lack thereof) the candidate. He will lose when the crossover moderates and independents go back to the Dem candidate in the General Election.

    Politics and compromise is one thing. McCain does compromise when he "reaches across the aisle". He abandons his party principles and adopts theirs. In the unlikelihood he were elected President he would do the same with a majority Democrat Congress and Senate, negating any supposed advantage to his party affiliation. Now you are asking that true conservatives do the same. Shame on you and all who would abandon principle just to line up behind a party name.