Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Personal Aside: “The Man Who Emptied Death Row.” George Ryan’s Motivation? Why Bring That Up?


George Ryan.

My radio show Sunday was an anomaly. It featured the author of a book that has not yet been published, entitled “The Man Who Emptied Death Row.” Since neither Russ Stewart nor I could read the book, we had to make do with the author, a man named Jim Merriner about whom if you want to use the phrase “tight-lipped,” it would be appropriate. I take it that Merriner, who had been a political writer for the “Sun-Times,” would understand thata biographer should attribute motivation to action and decisions. But Merriner steadfastly refused to examine the motivation Ryan had for emptying death row except for the one he cited when his trial came due.

“George Ryan said he had killed a man,” Merriner said, referring to a convict who was led to the death penalty without Ryan’s interference. “And he wasn’t going to be responsible for that kind of thing again.” Well, then, what about his other drastic changes of heart coincident with his trial where it would be important for the jury pool to understand how liberal George had become. And my gosh did he ever turn left in the blink of an eye. Emptying death row (committing the inmates there to life imprisonment) would be a natural for the jury pool. But just to be safe—well, what about abortion rights (a 180 from his last campaign), gay rights (another 180), going to Cuba to salute Fidel Castro and urge the embargo against Cuba be lifted? And the lesser things: a 180 on expansion of O’Hare and…what have I forgotten? But Merriner is not that kind of writer. He’s not interested in his subject’s motivation. Maybe that lack of interest is why he’s not at the “Sun-Times” anymore.

We turned to other topics on the broadcast. What did he think of Patti Blagojevich’s taking an $80,000 fund-raising job with the Chicago Christian Industrial League when he husband is in charge of conferring the grants? Merriner had no comment. You see, he’s not judgmental. And how Hillary Clinton rolled Barack Obama to land front and center at the Dem convention which was supposed to be Obama’s show? Not much comment there, either. Only the Obama version.

Well Merriner got his book plugged, not that it will do any good since nobody can buy it now. He will be speaking at the City Club about it soon and I challenge you to ask this biographer of George Ryan for the reason he emptied death row you will get the answer that he did it because it was the right thing to do.

It strikes me that even though the man who doesn’t bother to look at biographical subject’s motivation…Merriner just might have a motive in writing the book which will be out in September. George W. Bush’s term will end in a few months and a book about George’s good points might sway the president—although Merriner says it is unlikely. For some years now I had some questions about Merriner’s motivations, however. He wrote an authorized book on the history of the City Club which was in galley form when I asked…then demanded…to see it. Was very glad I did. I was the heavy in Merriner’s book that almost slipped by unnoticed by the board of directors…being pushed for speedy publication at the behest of one director. You better believe I exercised my right of blue-penciling stuff concerning me.

I never forgot that little episode…which is why I invited him to be on my show as sort of a little payback. There has probably not been a reporter or commentator at the “Sun-Times” who was in perfect lip-synch with the left than Merriner…if you make an exception for Carol Marin who is so left she is a publicitor—and I do…she doing a column last week saying that authorities say there is nothing to worry about for Obama’s failure to close the deal on the electorate. Merriner echoed that view on the radio with us. Marin was quoting David Axelrod. Oh, did Axelrod say that? Well then it’s all right. Did she expect he would say, “Jeez, Carol, we’ve goofed, we’re worried, this thing is going to the bow-wows?”

I don’t care if the show was boring (it was when an author refuses to discuss motivation)…it was worth it to see Merriner squirm under the hot lights. He won’t get those questions at the City Club with the questions written on cards and passed to the front where the tough ones can be skipped, you damn betcha.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Personal Aside: How Obama Got Rolled by the Little Lady at the Dem Convention.


If you think Barack Obama will be the kind of tough guy the nation depends on to face down Vladimir Putin all you have to do is take a look at how Hillary Clinton rolled him at the forthcoming Dem convention.

She was about as tough a bargainer as a terrorist and she walked away with these advantages: (1) Bill Clinton has a prominent role at the parley; (2) Hillary has a prominent role at the convention and will be introduced by her daughter Chelsea. (3) Her name will be presented for nomination at the convention and (4) a rollcall of the states will be taken.

What a waffle cookie this personification of Jesus Hussein Christ has become.


By Thomas F. Roeser

CHICAGO—What is important about the John Edwards story…about which we have not heard the end… is not the scandal nor the former presidential candidate lying about it. It’s how the mainstream media sought to protect Edwards by putting a gag on the story—which actually succeeded long after disclosures first came out in 2006…the gag lasting effectively until earlier this month. It goes to the heart of what many Americans are only now beginning to see: Mainstream” media are as biased for liberalism as conservatives say.

Two journalistic liberals now attest to the fact. Howard Kurtz, media critic for The Washington Post last week blasted his mainline journalistic colleagues for trying to snuff out the truth because Edwards is a fellow liberal. He wrote, “the widespread allegations…were an open secret that was debated in every newsroom and reported by almost none.” He was joined by Clark Hoyt, ombudsman for The New York Times whose job is to determine how impartial his newspaper is. He wrote, “The John Edwards `love child’ story finally made the national news media and made the front page of yesterday’s Times. For weeks, Jay Leno joked about it, the internet was abuzz and readers wondered why The Times and most of the mainstream media seemed to be studiously ignoring a story of sex and betrayal involving a former Democratic presidential candidate who remains prominent on the political stage.”

Hoyt harshly condemned his employer: “Before Edwards’ admission, The Times never made a serious effort to investigate the story, even as [The National Enquirer] wrote one sensational report after another.”

What were the ostensible excuses given for this mainstream attempted gag on the news? There were four. One: Edwards is now a private citizen and is not running for public office. Answer: This doesn’t wash. Edwards was on a short-list for the vice presidential nomination and on a very-very short list for attorney general of the United States in an Obama administration.

Two: a private sexual affair should remain private especially if one is not in government. Answer: But when one intends to be in government, the threat of blackmail is particularly important. Why? Undisclosed sexual peccadilloes leave public officials open to all kinds of “payments” that can direly affect public policy through commission or lack of commission of acts that can affect the nation. Alexander Hamilton bravely faced up to such blackmail when as treasury secretary he divulged the full nature of a sex scandal where he was being importuned to finagle with treasury policy to keep his actions hushed. He blew the lid off and ended his career accordingly.

Three: disclosure of marital infidelity would be a heartless act in view of Elizabeth Edwards’ wife who is suffering from cancer. Answer: Edwards and his wife campaigned as a team, he regularly attesting to the importance his marriage had in his life, Later, as it turned out, Elizabeth Edwards, a lawyer, had known of the infidelity when it was first committed, in 2006, and agreed to let the campaign be started knowing of its likely affect on Edwards with the possibility of future blackmail were he to be elected—a shocking denial of responsibility by two officers of the court who placed Edwards’ election foremost no matter what might be divulged later.

Four, and most often cited: The National Enquirer is a sleazy supermarket tabloid which freely admits it pays its informants for tips, a practice shunned by mainstream press. Furthermore it stumbled once, having to retract a story on Elizabeth Smart when it admitted two informants had provided false information. Answer: It’s lurid and not everybody’s cup of tea (certainly not mine). But the paper has been right on the money many other times, beginning with the Gary Hart-Donna Rice story, important elements of the O. J. Simpson story such as Simpson’s writing the sensational book If I Did It laying out how he would have killed his ex-wife and her friend supposedly in theory; also the details of the Bill Clinton-Monica Lewinsky story; the deal Hillary’s brother cut to get a presidential pardon for a client from Bill Clinton in return for a $400,000 fee. Furthermore The Enquirer was the first to break the Rush Limbaugh story where the conservative talk show host acknowledged dependency on painkillers which triggered Florida authorities to probe his drug use—a story the liberal mainstream media jumped on with exultant glee.

The mainstream media then is left with no responsible answer except that they protected Edwards because they agreed with him on major issues and feared his involvement in scandal would jeopardize the campaign of their favorite, Barack Obama, to be elected president.

Mainstream’s Move to the Center.

All the same, the Edwards matter has shown a gradual move of some mainstream outlets to the center from the ultra-left. Several events are responsible for it: the great drops in newspaper circulation and TV viewing of broadcast networks and the competition of other outlets including cable TV and the internet. Not long ago all U.S. political thought was seemingly orchestrated by the mainstream including the major national newspapers, The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Los Angeles Times and the major broadcast entities, NBC, CBS and ABC as well as the major newsmagazines Time, Newsweek and U.S. News & World Report.

That was a formidable bloc of solidly liberal opining which were responsible for a culture of pretty boy candidates including the near deification of a very ordinary but attractive young president, John F. Kennedy into a national icon. Kennedy’s 1000 days in office produced the Bay of Pigs which led to Nikita Khrushchev’s view that JFK was a callow, immature leader whereupon he ordered the Berlin Wall to be raised. Kennedy told James Reston of The New York Times that Khrushchev’s slighting view of him would mean the U.S. would have to win the Vietnam war, meaning a significant troop buildup. Khrushchev’s bad impression of Kennedy led to the Cuban Missile crisis where Kennedy convinced our media he had stood up firmly to the Russian while privately he and his brother Bobby pacified the USSR by pulling U.S. missiles out of Turkey.

The only saving grace was his tax cut, forced on him by Douglas Dillon and Walter Heller which helped the rich, bringing the top income rate down from 91% to 65% and which spurred the economy. It’s a tribute to Old Media cosmetology that Kennedy’s luster still endures for bright tokens such as the Peace Cops and the partial test ban treaty (which the Soviets cheated on) despite more than 40 years of revisionist scholarly research that verifies his as a mediocre presidency.

However, since the JFK romance with the media, three earthquakes changed the mass communications. First was the introduction of cable TV, the second the repeal of the “Fairness Doctrine” that liberated talk radio which spawned Rush Limbaugh and his imitators who tapped a hitherto unperceived market of angry conservative males producing huge profits for AM radio which hitherto had been near financial death; and the third the birth of the Internet which gave ordinary Americans access to unregulated and uncensored opinion and information. All three radically transformed U. S. media from a largely controlled opinion enterprise to a liberation of right-wing (and left-wing) thought.

Aftershocks followed immediately. Neo-con Press baron Rupert Murdoch began to buy newspapers and television stations all over the country. The New York Post once an icon of the left turned overnight to the right. Murdoch’s purchase of Fox News gave conservatives control of a major television arm. His winning control of The Wall Street Journal changed a solidly economic conservative (albeit dull) newspaper with a lucid editorial support of supply-side economics into a more readable, politically conservative (albeit neo-con) newspaper (last week a splendid feature focused on the agony suffered by women who undergo abortion).

Not that the old-guard liberal media establishment didn’t put up a fight for the gag order on Edwards news. The editor of the Los Angeles Times, the major daily owned by the Chicago Tribune, issued an order to his reporters who write on the paper’s blog: “I am asking you all not to blog about this topic until further notice.” Bob Schieffer of CBS News, aging watchman at the drawbridge protecting against anti-liberal news, sniffed on Don Imus: “I believe this is a story we will be avoiding because it appears to me that there’s absolutely nothing to it…This seems to be just sort of a staple of modern campaigns, that you get through at least one love child which turns out not to be a love child. And I think we can all do better that this one.”

The arch-purveyor of proper liberal news interpretation on TV is Jim Lehrer (a surname he pronounces “Jim Lah-rah” in fashionable eastern intonation, despite his Wichita, Kansas and San Antonio upbringing) of the “Jim Lehrer NewsHour” on PBS. He pronounced himself appalled that the scandal detracted from the real import of the news concerning health care and energy.

But notwithstanding CBS and the LA Times, the seismographs are still rattling with the earthquake-like changes. The Washington Post has now begun to move center-ward. In the past, the Graham family coterie and its employees had not only been liberals but Philip Graham played a powerful broker’s role in Democratic party counsels; Kay Graham, his widow, became a popular liberal duenna in Washington, D. C. society and her faithful employee, Ben Bradlee became a JFK insider, bursting into print with Kennedy scoops (such as the naming of Robert Kennedy as attorney general) in recompense for which Bradlee kept mum about JFK’s sexual escapades. They were all—the Grahams and the Bradlees with Ben’s many wives including the last, Sally Quinn—were kingmakers of Georgetown society. Now the Grahams are dead, Bradlee at age 87 is long retired and Kay Graham’s granddaughter is the paper’s publisher. The new Kay in town, Kay Weymouth, is a far different breed of cat than Kay Graham. Harvard and Oxford-trained, she is a lawyer and accountant by training and deeply worried about the Post’s falling revenue.

Kay Weymouth has to face competition from The Washington Times which has only a fourth of the Post’s circulation but has a bottomless coffer of money from its owner Sun Myung Moon who has spent $2 billion on the paper so far and has announced he will spend as many future billions as is needed to keep the paper competitive. So Kay Weymouth made the decision to turn the direction of The Post rightward, if it only means going from ultra-fashionable left to the center. When Murdoch fired his centrist Wall Street Journal editor, Marcus Brauchli because he was not knee-jerk rightwing enough, Weymouth snapped him up and put him in as editor of The Post.

Quickly the newspaper moved under Brauchli from being a predictable critic of George W. Bush to supporting the Iraq War, opposing a timetable for troop withdrawal, endorsing Bush’s CAFTA [the Central America Free Trade pact] and boosting the partial privatization of Social Security. Then one of its key political reporters, Dana Milbank began making fun of Barack Obama’s messianic fetish—an astounding development at the paper. Now Howie Kurtz, Post media critic is finding fault with his colleagues for not moving more aggressively on the John Edwards story (the Post was asking questions of Edwards quite early in the game).

It’s too early to tell whether the other Post properties—Newsweek and the Post/ Newsweek TV stations—may follow the center-ward trek directed by Kay Weymouth but last week reporter Jonathan Darman led off with what may be a change in direction. Newsweek has been a reliable mum’s-the-word protector of liberal secrets in the past but Darman wrote an exclusive with our only personal character sketch of Rielle Hunter who was involved with John Edwards. It so happened Darman was on a small plane with the two of them when Hunter was ostensibly running a film crew that was taping Edwards.

Darman: “The first time I laid eyes of Rielle Hunter I could tell she was a story. She had frizzy blond hair with dark roots, wore bright nail polish and moved like someone who knew how to work a room…Her speech was peppered with New Age jargon---human beings were being dragged down by `blockages’ from their actual potential. History was the story of souls entering and escaping our field of consciousness…Her latest project was John Edwards. Edwards, she said [to Darman], was an old soul who had barely tapped into any of his potential…[H]e had the power to be a `transformational leader’ on par with Gandhi and Martin Luther King. `He has the power to change the world!’ she said.”

Well, Rielle Hunter nee Lisa Druck certainly changed Edwards’ world and probably did all of us a good turn by doing it.

The On-Going Campaign.

Latest compilation of electoral votes from Votes from Abroad, a nonpartisan group, has Obama at 289 and McCain at 249. Needed to elect: 270. The tally shows an ever-so-slight tipping, almost imperceptible, to McCain. Realclearpolitics lists the close fight in key tossup states. Colorado, Obama 47.3, McCain 45.7. Virginia, Obama and McCain tied at 46.7. Missouri, Obama 45.6, McCain 47.3. Ohio, Obama 46.6, McCain 45.5; Florida, Obama 45.8, McCain 47.0.

One interesting poll not pertaining to the horserace but to attitudes was taken by the nonpartisan Pew Research Center and released last week. Obama may be the fresh face the world’s been crying for but 48% said they’re hearing too much about him while just 26% said the same about McCain. Two-thirds of Republicans and half of independents say they’re heard too much about Obama along with a third of the Democrats, a very significant number. At the same time, nearly four in 10 said they’ve been hearing too little about McCain—about four times the number who said the same thing about Obama. About half the Republicans, four in 10 independents and even a quarter of Democrats said they’ve not heard enough about the GOP candidate.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Personal Aside: Doug Kmiec at his Finest…Illinois State Archives Disprove Obama on “Born Live”…If McCain Wants to Lose He’ll Pick Ridge.

Dig This Doug.

Douglas Kmiec, the Catholic who once wrote classic legal literature on the necessity to name pro-life Justices to the Supreme Court and the need to overturn “Roe v. Wade”…yes, that same Doug Kmiec who now espouses the election of Barack Obama, the ex-state legislator who strangled Born Alive in its crib as Illinois senate judiciary chairman…I mean THAT Doug Kmiec has just…get this… written a laudatory statement congratulating a 6-member panel for “courageously” urging on the platform committee of Doug’s new-found Democratic party to praise reduction in abortions as good policy.

Well, on examination the committee wasn’t courageous at all: it merely touts increased federal programs for entitlements, universal health care, education, “income support,” adoption et al which can be rationalized to possibly slow the number of abortions, postulating the thesis that the more federal largesse the better for the unborn. However there was nothing said about ending Medicaid abortions with taxpayers’ money, nothing about the party’s past support of partial birth abortions, nothing about Obama’s steadfast support of infanticide via “Born Live.” This is what the language says:

It supports access to “family planning,” “age-appropriate sex education,” declaring that “such health care and education help reduce the number of unintended pregnancies and thereby reduce the need for abortions.” The proposed platform adds that the Democratic party “strongly supports a woman’s decision to have a child”—get that? The Democratic party is going on record as supporting a woman who wants to have a child. Is this “courageous” as well? Or did we imagine the party rejected mandatory abortions after one child as is enforced in the People’s Republic of China? Okay. It goes on record foresquare “as supporting a womanm who wants to have a child”—but adds a proviso. “…by ensuring access to and availability of, programs [READ FEDERAL] for pre-and post-natal health care, parenting skills, income support and caring adoption programs.”

In his own statement praising his new party, Doug Kmiec proves his superior legal legerdemain. Get this. Let me parse it for you.

“I have been involved in this issue my entire professional career, as Ronald Reagan’s constitutional lawyer and head of the office of legal counsel for the Department of Justice.” JUST A LITTLE USE OF REAGAN TO BRING HIS SO-CALLED “CONSERVATIVE CREDENTIALS” TO THE FORE.

“I had numerous occasions to write and strengthen the briefing that was filed…when we asked the Supreme Court of the United States to overturn `Roe v. Wade.’” HE’S GETTING TO THE TRICKY PART NOW. LISTEN:

“One of the things I think is most significant about this platform is that it recognizes that there is more than one way to discourage abortion.” BRILLIANT, DOUG! OBVIATE THE ISSUE AND GO FOR MORE FEDERAL ASSISTANCE WITHOUT ELIMINATING MEDICARE ABORTIONS OF STIPULATING THE NAMING OF JUDGES WHO WOULD BE OPPOSED!





“The church has always indicated that the social teaching of the church—providing for a family wage [FEDERAL ASSISTANCE IMPLIED], providing for decent health care [UNIVERSAL FEDERAL HEALTH CARE ALA OBAMA] providing for decent shelter [MORE FEDERAL SUBSIDIES FOR HOUSING], providing for the conditions that enhance the human person [HERE ADD THE ENTIRE LITANY OF PORK BARREL GOODIES] are essential to making sure that no person, no woman, no expectant mother feels compelled or coerced to make the tragic course of taking the life of her own child. So it is significant to the Democrats because of course it is a great expansion for them. [HUH? YOU MEAN THE WISH TO CUT DOWN THE NUMBER OF ABORTIONS BY THE ABORTION PARTY YOU’VE JOINED?] It is, however, also significant for Catholics insofar as it reaffirms a much larger sweep of the alternative ways to address abortion.” NOW AFTER MAKING THAT PRETZEL BEND IN RATIONALE, YOU’RE ENTITLED TO A DRINK, DOUG.


I’ll take my hat off to you, Doug. Your painstaking rationale is akin to a lawyer hired to defend the Nuremburg gang petitioning that the charge of genocide against them be reduced to operating the ovens without a city permit.

Obama Lied on Born Live.

I have been variously trying to figure out Obama. Is he a pseudo-Marxist as his largely secret talk in San Francisco indicated…where he berated average people in Appalachia who didn’t vote for him for “clinging” to religion in their poverty—paraphrasing religion the opium of the people dictum where Marx lachrymosely wails in behalf of the downtrodden who substitute God for material gains, a direct parallel? Or is he an empty suit? Now I have come to a conclusion. He has the fashionable, faculty room style with vacuous rhetoric emblematic of an empty suit, relying on his old socialist nostrums that make good phraseology rather than resorting to common sense economic and social concerns. That’s why the kids think he’s Bono.

So he’s a combination of a lazy mind, cluttered with rhetoric rattling around in an empty head…indicative of the fact that he has written nothing o intellectual worth either from Harvard or in his formative community organizing years or introduced anything of significance in his few years in either the Illinois Assembly or the U.S. Senate. That’s it: a vacant mind that insofar as it considers anything relies on socialist neo-Marxism; a religious outlook that is so relativistic as to make a Unitarian high church. And a tricky capacity to lie.

The lies come from his wriggling to get off the hook on Obama’s support of Born Alive. He has claimed over and again that he would have supported the bill he strangled to death if it had contained language to protect abortion rights. Well once again he is a chronic and unmitigated liar. Now there’s documentation that Obama DID vote against a version of Born Live that contained the very language that was contained in the U.S. Senate version before he got there, which so many of his Democratic colleagues including Ted Kennedy, John Kerry, Hillary Clinton and Barbara Boxer supported and which was signed into law. In the state senate Judiciary committee, just before the roll-call vote that killed the bill, senators voted to amend it to include a “neutrality clause” identical to the one passed by the U.S. Senate.

That clause was copied from the federal version of the law and which contained the very language Obama claimed he needed in order to support the bill. It was killed by a 6 to 4 vote, Obama voting with the majority.

Verdict: Marxist-inclined, empty head, empty suit and liar.

If McCain Wants to Lose…

No, Tom Ridge’s pro-choice credentials don’t necessarily bother me. The pro-abortion candidate for the 1980 Republican nomination was Daddy Bush who, once he was picked for veep, changed overnight and named Clarence Thomas to the court as president. What bothers me is that Ridge is a Catholic pro-choicer which gives the finger to Catholic authenticists like myself who have fought the lonely fight…even within the malleable hierarchy of our church…for a strong stand on abortion. It would certify that Doug Kmiec, doing his damndest to elect Obama, just happens to favor another pro-abortion candidate while we favor one for vice president.

But you say, “you’re a single issue guy.” Right you are—but there are other disadvantages to Ridge besides his pro-abortionism. As a House member from Pennsylvania from 1984 to `88 he was more likely to oppose President Reagan’s position on a given issue than be for it. “Congressional Quarterly” shows he was the most dovish of GOP members…supporting nuclear freeze. Imagine that: here we’d have a guy running for president (McCain) on a tough national security issue and his running mate was aligned with Walter F. Mondale and all the other libs on an issue that was the defining one separating the two parties in the Cold War.

As a House member he supported Reagan only 40% of the time…an incredibly low record.

This idea that Ridge can carry Pennsylvania. Utter nonsense. Although governor, he was never that popular there. As Bush’s Homeland Security secretary he was the guy who told us first we were on green alert, orange alert, pink alert.


Thursday, August 14, 2008

Personal Asides: One Social Agency Sees as Route to Restored State Funding—Hiring Patti Blagojevich…The Implications of Colin Powell’s Likely Endorsement of Barack Obama…Implications of Michelle Obama Addressing the Dem Convention on its 1st Day.


Route to Restored State Funding?

The Chicago Christian Industrial League may have detected what might be…or might not…be a route to restoration of ample state funding for its social services defined on its website as “providing comprehensive programs and services and a sense of purpose in the lives of homeless men and women and families of Chicago.”

According to reputable information, it has hired Patti Blagojevich, the wife of Gov. Blagojevich, as its major fund-raiser. This is what’s known as going to the heart of the problem to get a solution.

As is widely known, state government under Gov. Rod Blagojevich has sent letters to at least 150 agencies cutting program funds in order to balance the budget--and CCIL reported Monday that “approximately 16 CCIL residents participating in the [Residential Recovery Program] found themselves homeless.”

CCIL, one of the largest nonprofit organizations in the state, is located at 2750 West Roosevelt Road (Roosevelt & California). If this works out, Ms. Blagojevich might become a very busy fund-raiser in the future.

Colin Powell for Obama?

Matt Drudge is very often right on the money, so when he announced yesterday that very possibly a deal is in the works for Colin Powell to endorse Barack Obama for president, many eyebrows were lifted. On the plus side, Gen. Powell who was secretary of state under George W. Bush and national security director for Ronald Reagan, brings credibility of military and diplomatic professionalism to the Obama campaign. After all, he was chairman of the joint chiefs and is regarded as a military-diplomatic expert. He turned down successive importuning from Republicans in the past to run either for president or for vice president. While Powell seems to be definitely out of the political business as a candidate, as a speaker on the stump he could be formidable for Obama. His signal asset would be to convince moderate Republicans that Obama is not an untested, green candidate in foreign or military policies, a view which has dogged the Democrats from the outset.

But there are disadvantages. The track record of success for leaders of one party’s administration bringing an avalanche of voters to the side of another party…opposite to the one served by the endorser…is almost nonexistent. With Powell being African American, the speculation will be inevitable that his support stems largely from a chauvinistic rooting for a fellow African American candidate to be president—not a very inspiring trait when so many more important aspects are involved in the national decision. That’s the first disadvantage. Putting race aside, when was the last time a prominent figure of one party who was involved heavily in that party’s governing endorsed a candidate of another who has criticized the opposite party’s record? The most recent was John Connally, of course: former Democratic governor of Texas, close ally of Lyndon Johnson, John F. Kennedy’s secretary of the navy who became chairman of “Democrats for Nixon” in 1972 and later became Richard Nixon’s secretary of the treasury and declared himself a Republican.

The fact that Connally got indicted in 1973 for allegedly pocketing $10,000 from lobbyist Jake Jacobson for supposedly influencing dairy supports on milk which tarnished his name even though he was acquitted after character witnesses Lady Bird Johnson, Jackie Kennedy, Dean Rusk and Barbara Jordan insisted he was blameless. He ran for the Republican presidential nomination in 1980, raised a formidable amount of money but got one delegate.

Okay, you say: Connally is a bad example because he was caught up in the milk scandal albeit was found to be innocent. After Connally who was the most prominent defector? It would have to be Alfred E. Smith, former governor of New York, Democratic nominee for president in 1928, the man who launched FDR’s campaign for governor that same year and who lost his bid for re-nomination to Roosevelt in 1932. Smith gnawed his fist in frustration and was quoted as opposing the New Deal—but it was only when we came to the Democratic convention of 1936 when FDR was re-nominated by acclamation that his dissatisfaction became publicly apparent. He announced he was prepared to “take a walk” on election day which meant either voting Republican or sitting on his hands. He later announced his support for the Republican nominee, Gov. Alfred M. Landon of Kansas. Landon suffered the worst defeat in history up to that time. Smith was regarded as a sore loser who never forgave his onetime protégé for topping him.

Smith became chairman of the American Liberty League, the topmost grassroots movement to oppose the New Deal’s economic plans. He supported Wendell Willkie in 1940 (Willkie lost and Smith actively opposed FDR’s plans to move us into World War II).

Another case of dissatisfaction with the Democratic party…though not party switching…was James A. Farley, the former Democratic national chairman (who in 1933 held three titles at once: postmaster general of the U.S., DNC chairman and New York state Dem chairman) who split with Roosevelt on the third term whom I interviewed at great length. Farley was perhaps the greatest natural political organizer I ever knew, building a coalition of urban dwellers, Catholics, farmers and labor unions while holding southern conservatives in the mix that elected Roosevelt president But the analogy is imperfect since Farley never left the Democratic party. Yet as a foe of FDR he ran unsuccessfully for governor of New York and twice for senator. Unfortunately as Farley himself told me, his rebuke of Roosevelt was taken by the media to be one of vitriol and spite—the media believing he himself wanted the presidency and begrudged Roosevelt winning successive terms largely on strategies that Farley had originated.

Switches to opposite party never really clicked. Strom Thurmond left the Democratic party, became a Dixiecrat, ran against Harry Truman for president in hopes of dislodging him in 1948—but it failed and Thurmond became a Republican. He was a powerful regional politician as a Republican but not a national leader. Henry A. Wallace left the Democratic party to run as a progressive in 1948 but made little impact. Eugene McCarthy ran for the presidency in 1968 as a Democrat but became so estranged and inconsequential that by his death no one—including Gene—knew if he was still a Democrat or not.

My guess is that if and when Colin Powell decided to endorse Obama, the media will make a great thing of it because the national media passionately want Obama to win—but that in the matter of delivering votes, will largely come to nil. Obama’s problem is that the election is poised to decide on one person—Obama. The number of endorsees of either Obama or McCain will mean very little.

Michelle’s Addressing the Convention.

The fact that Michelle Obama will address the Democratic convention on its first day’s session is a startling one…which has never been done before. No prospective First Lady ever did so nor did any actual First Lady…even Eleanor Roosevelt…do so. The decision was obviously made by David Axelrod whose rationale as a brilliant strategist has never involved issues but personalities. Axelrod believes he can mould a personality into becoming a winning commodity for his party.

With Michelle Obama it will take formidable image-making cosmetology indeed. She has done almost irreparable harm to herself by allowing her words to make her a symbol of black grievance and anti-whitey figure…when she has been a remarkably coddled black woman at that. Imagine someone who got to Princeton not through academic excellence but through other means who lamented that she felt alone and discriminated against there. Her thesis which is available smacks of hot grievance. Or someone who graduates from the Harvard Law school who continues the grievance until when her husband was winning primaries…while she was in her 40s…announced that for the first time she was felt proud to be an American. Who earned $300,000 from the University of Chicago based on her connection with Valerie Jarrett and who still has the temerity to tell young black women that she should forego the possibility of earning big bucks for community service where they would earn far less—something she didn’t do. In essence, Michelle Obama can’t forgive whitey for creating a social environment which through affirmative action…something I know about having utilized it in the federal government…to give her privileges she inwardly believes she doesn’t deserve—which underlines her anger.

David Axelrod has imposed on her a tremendous job. It will be an exercise in imagery to remake the image. She must be witty, warm, self-deprecating, humble and a phrasemaker. Meek and humble of heart.

Lots of luck, David.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Personal Aside: In Contrast to Edwards, One Presidential Candidate Didn’t Dodge or Lie but Owned Up to an Illegitimate Child.


Profile of Candor—and Guts. .

When in 1884 his campaign managers told Grover Cleveland in his Chicago hotel room that things looked bad for his nomination since his opponents had found almost irrefutable evidence that he had sired an illegitimate child and was getting the mother to so attest in the papers, the bachelor candidate, a massive, hulking figure at 250 pounds, standing 5 feet 11 with a huge bull neck, strong jaw, double chin, big fists into whose firm mouth was almost always clamped a cigar protruding under his bushy mustache, said calmly: “Well, gentlemen, you knew when you found me that I was no gelding even though the son of a minister and born in the Presbyterian manse..” A gelding (a word in common usage of the time) was a castrated horse or donkey.

This did not assuage them. What explanation did he have? God knows at age 47 he was a virile bachelor, popular with the ladies, lax in observing his Presbyterian prayers, rarely going to church, choosing to shoot pool on Sunday rather than meditate on the mercy of God…former sheriff of Erie county N. Y. who personally collared two men at different times…Patrick Morrissey, convicted of stabbing his mother to death and Jack Gaffney, guilty of shooting a man over a poker game…who as mayor of Buffalo declared he had inherited a filthy sewage system, raised taxes (an unpopular move), checking the rising number of typhoid deaths by building a new one…who as Democratic governor of New York spurned patronage, instituted great scrutiny into state banking practices, shocked his party by signing a bill for merit employment sponsored by brash young Republican Theodore Roosevelt…preserved more than 1.5 million acres surrounding Niagara Falls…who as result of all these things was the putative Democratic nominee, backed by both liberal northern reformers and conservative sound money men.

Well, said his senior strategist, David N. Lockwood, aren’t we at least entitled to know the story now that the Republicans and your enemies at Tammany Hall are spreading it and…worse…are demonstrating proof?

Yes, said Cleveland relighting his dead cigar. In 1871…thirteen years ago there was a young lady in Buffalo when I was Erie county sheriff. Her name was Maria Halpin and she was a comely 33, She had left her two children behind in Jersey City to seek a new life in Buffalo, beginning as a collar maker, then a department store clerk, rising to manager of the cloak department. She was a popular lady, damn popular with a number of married men who saw in her a chance to relive their youth while telling their wives they were working late. Eventually she conceived a child. She told us all somebody would have to own up for this and since we all had had a good deal to do with her, we gathered over cigars at late lunch.

I decided I would own up to it since everybody else was married and had wives and children who would be at risk. I was a bachelor. Not that I had sole responsibility, understand but no one knew exactly who the father was—so I said I was. I had the least to lose from such admission. I declined to marry her but told Maria I’d accept financial responsibility for the child, a little boy. This I did. Everybody knew it but I told them to go hang. She named the child Oscar Folsom Cleveland (the Folsom name coming from my best friend, Oscar Folsom who also had much to do with her). Unfortunately Maria was also an alcoholic and I was worried that as a nursing mother it would harm the child. By that time Oscar didn’t want anything to do with her, fearing his marriage was in jeopardy. So I handled it alone.

So I talked to my good friend Judge Roswell L. Burrows who placed her in a sanitarium where they could counsel her to get over her drinking and put the baby in a Catholic orphanage. I paid for the sanitarium and the orphanage and everybody in Erie county knew it—but I didn’t worry about it. Rather have them know I was owning up to what may well have been my responsibility than not. When she was released from the sanitarium, I set her up in a small business in Niagara Falls. But she kept on drinking and when she petitioned the court to regain custody of her little son, the court rebuffed her. She took matters into her own hands and kidnapped the boy in 1876. Authorities quickly recovered the boy. I met with her, convinced her to allow the child to be put up for adoption, paid her a goodly sum from my pocket and she left, remarried and settled in New Rochelle, N. Y. But she decided when I got the Democratic nomination for president that she needed more money—which I disdained. It was so well known in Buffalo it wasn’t big news at all. But now she has gone to the newspapers and here we are.

Here we are!” said Lockwood. Well, what do we do now?

Nothing, said Cleveland. I owned up to it then and do so now.

Can’t we say that this lady was so promiscuous that--.

You’ll say nothing of the sort, said Cleveland. You won’t hurt her or her son, Oscar Cleveland, who may be my son for all I know. If this thing loses for me, well so be it

Wait, said another. You say one of the guys fooling around with Maria Halpin was named Folsom. The young lady you’re going with now—her name is--.

Frances Folsom, said Cleveland. Oscar’s daughter. She’s 19 now. I met her right after she was born.

Nineteen! They chorused: You’re--.

I’m 47. What about it?

Nothing, it just looks like you’re an old--.

Lecher? I’ve known her since she was born as I said. Changed her diapers often. I bought her a baby carriage, was sort of like her avuncular uncle while she was growing up. When her father, Oscar, died in a carriage accident in 1875 without a will, I was appointed administrator of his estate. She was then 11 years old.

Lockwood clapped his hand to his forehead. Good God!

She attended Central high school in Buffalo and went on to graduate from Wells college, in Aurora, New York. As she grew up I grew very fond of her, romantic even. She and I have an understanding. That we will marry when the time is right. When this election thing is concluded.

Lockwood sat down and beckoned Cleveland to do the same.

You know, he said, this is going to be an insuperable handicap at the convention that opens tomorrow. All this time I thought the only thing we had to worry about was your lack of service in the Civil War—when you took the option of paying somebody $100 to serve in your stead.

A legal option, said Cleveland. And I paid him $150—fifty dollars more than mandated. He was a Polish immigrant, George Benninsky who agreed to go.

Thank God, said Lockwood, James G. Blaine didn’t serve either. So he can’t get us there. But this. I am told the “Buffalo Evening Telegraph” came out with a headline that says “A Terrible Tale—Dark Chapter in Public Man’s History!”

And Tammany is circulating a campaign song about you, said another. “Ma, Ma, where’s my Pa? Gone to the White House, ha, ha, ha!”

Gentlemen, said Cleveland arising, if that is all you have to say to me, I have work to do. I instruct you all to answer the charges as I will—by telling the truth.

After he left the room, Lockwood turned to his friends and said: We’re finished. This was the year when the Democrats were supposed to win. President Arthur so despised by his party that he lost control of his party. . The Republicans torn up in disarray, with their convention split between a discredited president, James G. Blaine a machine politician, Edmonds of Vermont, General Logan of Illinois. All engaged in riotous division and we have the pure candidate—pure, or so we thought. Fearless--.

He IS fearless, said one. He’s not going to lie about it. That’s something.

Yes, I suppose, Lockwood sighed.

Said Edward Bragg of Wisconsin: You know, people love him. They respect him. They knew all about this in Buffalo and reelected him sheriff, then mayor, then governor of New York. I tell you they love him for his character, what we have just seen, for his integrity, his iron will—and, by God, they love him best for the enemies he’s made! I think I’ll say that in my seconding speech at the convention tomorrow.

If there IS to be a seconding speech, said Lockwood dolefully.

There will be, said Bragg.


Edward Bragg was right. And he used that line “they love him for the enemies he made” at the convention in Chicago. Even with the scandal and the copies of the Buffalo papers distributed on the floor by Tammany Hall partisans, he started off on the first ballot with 392 votes—150 short of nomination, trailed by Bayard of Delaware 170, Thurman of Ohio, 88, Randall of Pennsylvania, 78, and McDonald of Indiana, 56, the rest scattered. Randall withdrew in Cleveland’s favor—which started the southern bloc moving to him, producing enough to put him over the top on the second ballot. 683 voters to 81 for Bayard and 45 for Hendricks.

The campaign, believe it or not turned on the personal morality of the candidates, Democrats hitting Blaine on profiting from railroad interests and the Republicans countering with the specter of poor little Oscar Folsom Cleveland. A pompous Protestant minister, a Catholic-baiter, slugged Catholicism just before election in a speech in New York city, alienating the Catholics and Cleveland won by a hair—49% to 48% but easily enough with the electoral votes, 219 to 182.

Once in the White House he formally proposed to beauteous 21-year-old Frances Folsom by formal letter. She accepted. They kept their engagement to themselves and married June 2, 1886 in the White House, the first president to be married there. Gossips were as malicious then as now and they insisted she was an abused wife, unhappy with the gruff old man she married. But she was not. In 1888 Cleveland lost reelection to Republican Benjamin Harrison and they had to move out. But Frances Folsom Cleveland gathered the White House staff together and told them this: “We’ll be back! We were the 22nd president. We’ll be the 24th !” They were. In 1892 Cleveland defeated the incumbent Harrison 46% to 43% with James Weaver of the Populist party taking 9% and an Electoral vote of 277 for Cleveland, 145 for Harrison and 22 for Weaver.

When I was a freshman at Saint John’s in Minnesota in 1947, a small item in the paper recorded that 82-year-old Frances Folsom Cleveland Preston (after Cleveland died she married a professor of archaeology at Princeton, the first presidential widow to remarry) died…who led the Needlework Guild of America in a clothing drive during the Great Depression…and saluted as a gallant lady who stood by her husband when he was assailed as a philanderer and believed in her husband, marrying him when he was the 22nd president and helping him on the campaign trail to return as the 24th president of the United States.

Oh yes. Oscar Folsom Cleveland was adopted by a wealthy family through the intercession of the man who may…or may not…have been his natural father. In any event, he became a prosperous physician. He visited the graves of Grover Cleveland and Frances Folsom Cleveland Preston in Princeton regularly…to either visit the tomb of his natural father—or, who knows…his half-sister.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Personal Aside: Tribute to Maureen Murphy…Mah Name is T. Boone Pickens and Ah’ve Been in Oil Mah Entire Lahf. But What About Noooclur, T. Boone?...Jim Lah-rah, the Phoniest Media Establishmentarian.


Maureen Murphy, R.I.P.

Here is how I started my program on WLS-AM Sunday night:

I am sorry to announce the untimely death of Maureen Murphy at age 56 following a long illness. In a very short time…far too short a lifetime…she compiled an outstanding record of selfless service to her family, her church, to the pro-life movement and to government. She was: Republican State Representative from Illinois’ 36th district from 1993 to 1997, during which time she served as chairman of the House Revenue Committee…member of the Cook county Board of Review from 2002 to 2004, the first woman, first suburban resident, first Republican, to hold the post…Cook county Republican chairman from 2002 to 2004, then first woman to hold that post. She was Worth township Republican committeeman, previously serving on the Evergreen Park high school board (elected in 1982) and as Worth township clerk elected from 1985 to 1989. She was a lifelong resident of Evergreen Park.

Most important, at least to me, she was a dedicated member of her church, a daily Mass-goer and communicant. She was an outstanding leader and strategist in behalf of the unborn. She was dedicated to her family, her husband Jack and her four sons.

My condolences to her family and her many friends

Mah Name is T. Boone Pickins…

By now you’ve seen and heard the TV and radio commercials where this 80-year-old (let’s hear it for this age at least!) with a rich Oklahoma accent says “Mah name is T. Boone Pickens…and ah’ve been in oil mah entire lahf.”

He tells us we now import almost 70% of our oil…that is costing us $700 billion a year, $7 trillion over the next ten years…World oil production has peaked at 85 million barrels a day while demand is still growing. Output may never go up again.” Sounds good but here comes the very simplistic part:

“We now produce 22% of our electricity with natural gas. I want to replace that 22% with wind energy and move the natural gas over to the transport sector where compressed natural gas can replace oil. That will lower our oil imports by 38%. The federal government says it’s possible. It’s right here in this study--`20% Wind Energy by 2030’ put out by the Department of Energy…”

The question I have is this: why isn’t he supporting nuclear power? Well, he tells us he is not happy about uranium supplies and costs. But he’s spending $10 billion on his 4,000 megawatt wind farm about the same as it would cost to build 4,000 MW of nuclear capacity. But when you bring windmills online it will mean building a entirely new cross-country transmission system,; transmitting electricity across the country or even halfway will mean we invest in a totally new infrastructure of 765 k V liknes to cover long distances without losing power.

Listen, unlike T. Boone I don’t have a couple of billion lying around to prove my skill in drilling but I’m his age and old enough to know the enormous store of energy that is unleashed in the nucleus of the atom. Smart as he is, T. Boone is foolish not to reckon on the untapped benefits of nuclear energy.

The Greatest Media Establishmentarian.

How the hell do you get Jim Lah-rah out of Jim Lehrer? Especially if you were born in Wichita, Kansas and spent a lot of time in San Antonio, Texas? Answer, when you turn phony Eastern. Lah-rah is one of the sublime innocents in national media. He absolutely does not realize the extent liberal bias has made in the media and in him.

Not Jim Lah-rah. At the end of his daily PBS show, The News Hour with Jim Lehrer, the hidden studio announcer gets it worse…”Jim Laaaaah-raaaah.” Call it phony public television pronunciation.

No, Jim Lah-rah, age 74, doesn’t think media have been biased toward Barack Obama. Uh-uh. “There’s an ebb and flow to the news and it will dictate how much news coverage there is going to be.” Oh, I see, just like the tide of the ocean. The more we hear about the errors of JFK, his lack of nerve to require air power to back up the Bay of Pigs, which produced the feeling within Nikita Khrushchev that here was a callow youth with style and little else in the presidency…which led to the Berlin Wall…the acknowledgment by Kennedy to James Reston that in order to show Khrushchev our firmness we would have to add more men and arms to win the Vietnam war…which led to our pulling missiles out of Turkey on the q-t to make a show of our going eyeball to eyeball with the USSR and they blinked—when they didn’t…the more we hear of these entirely historically documented mistakes, the more we hear that Kennedy was still a great..or memorable…president from the establishmentarians of the likes of Jim Lah-rah.

Times are changing as the disillusionment with the “mainstream media” holding back on the Edwards disclosure. Oh that horrid old National Enquirer, you see. But the National Enquirer was just ducky when it unveiled Rush Limbaugh’s drug taking, wasn’t it? Then it was entirely acceptable. The sad thing is that the old generation of stuffy liberal journalists will have to die before a new breed takes over who understands a story is a story. By then nobody will remember Jim Lah-rah of Wichita and San Antonio who has dolled pronunciation of his name with a fancy eastern accent.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Personal Asides: CBS 2 Political Editor Mike Flannery’s Stirring Love Affair with Barack Obama…Carol Marin Does an Interview with Axelrod and—Voila!—Things Look Good for Obama After All!


Objective Coverage Old Hat.

Here is a published interview with CBS 2 Political Editor Mike Flannery about Barack Obama contained in “Chicago Life” magazine political issue which was distributed with “The New York Times” yesterday (I stopped when he got to non-germane issues i.e. the legislature, Blagojevich, the admittedly weak state of the GOP).

In it you find a serious rupture of a newsman’s neutrality with a politician he covers. Notice the exhilaration that Obama was driving his own car, American-made and SMARTLY, too. Notice there are no leaks from inside the Obama campaign but there is no recognition of reported newsmen’s dissatisfaction with how they’re kept from the candidate. Nary a mention of that. Notice he predicts Obama will be president in 2006 and importunes him to invite him to the White House Christmas party, give him a sample Christmas tree ornament and allow a picture to be taken with Flannery’s kids. Any reasonable editor would see the inability of Flannery to be even-handed as result of this interview.

Now about this strange publication that Flannery has allowed himself to be interviewed by. It is obvious advertising material—in this case since it is a political issue, pro-Obama advertising. “The New York Times” labels it as an advertising supplement. But the supplement flaunts a strange demurrer of the “Times’” own legal disclaimer. Here is what the demurrer says:

“Although the legal disclaimer, “Advertising Supplement,” is printed on the cover and throughout Chicago Life, the magazine neither sells nor promises editorial [sic] to advertisers and keeps a strict separation between advertising and editorial. 45,900 copies of Chicago Life are distributed by The New York Times in the Chicago area.”

Which is it, fellas…”advertising supplement” which “The Times” calls yourself or your denal? It appears that “The Times” is right to label the stuff as advertising. It’s flagrant advertising for Obama whether paid for on the barrel-head or not. Item: The publication’s Publisher’s Letter, signed by one Pam Berns stresses “With Obama’s plan, Americans would never have to worry about being one illness away from financial devastation, like many are today” and concludes “In August, 2004, Chicago Life was the first glossy magazine to feature Barack Obama on the cover with an in-depth interview. He holds the future of many in his hands.” So much for objectivity.

Now to the portion of the interview on Obama with Flannery, as the Channel 2 political editor exults about the presidential candidate he has to cover. Notice that there is no mention of the fact that had the primary battle been conducted on a winner-take-all basis, Hillary Clinton, not Obama, would be the putative nominee today. No mention that the results were almost knife-edge close. No mention that Obama and McCain are almost dead even in the polls. But the damning portion is where Flannery lasciviously salves Obama as the next president…something that is the height of non-professional in journalism. Every day Mike Flannery continues to “cover” Obama is like a surrogate of David Axelrod being allowed to cover the news. Notice how the boyish enthusiasm of seeing Obama drive HIS OWN CAR in Peoria—an American make, too. SMARTLY! Get that! Here, then, is the portion of the interview where Flannery exults on Obama.

Q. You started covering Sen. Barack Obama when he was elected to the Illinois Senate in 1996. What was he like then?

A. I met him in Springfield. He did stand out. He wasn’t one of the business guys down there. You know, there are a lot of Democrats and Republicans who are there, sort of, because it’s the family business—politics and government. The Columbia bachelor’s degree, the Harvard Law degree, it was clear he was a different kind of guy. And the attitude kined of was, what exactly are you doing here? And then also the fact that he’d written this book, which I unfortunately didn’t sit down and read until he was running for the U. S. Senate.

Q. What kind of candidate was he early on?

A. I remember the year before he announced [he was running] the U. S. Senate. I was in Peoria covering a story. I was interviewing the Peoria county Democratic party chairman at the Labor Temple and Obama pulls up, driving his own car, American-made, smartly. I heard that he was thinking of running for the U.S. Senate so we chatted for a while. He then revealed that he’d been traveling. He’d been on the road for days, driving himself around, meeting people all over southern and central Illinois. It struck me, this guy is really, really hungry. And also, he sees an opening. This is the Peter Fitzgerald seat and it’s clear that Fitz, being a Republican in an increasingly Democratic state, was going to have trouble getting reelected and Obama was one of many who saw the opening. And, of course, the rest is just well-known history.

Q. It was unusual that he’d written a book?

A. Oh yeah. The number of members of the Illinois General Assembly who’ve written and not had to self-publish their books, you could probably count them on one hand. There was a different feel to him. Conversations with different.

Q. How were your conversations with Obama different?

A. He had a different grasp, a bigger picture in mind. There was never a sense you get with a lot of them down there, feathering their own nest. You didn’t get that sense with him. He stood out. It was refreshing.

Q. Has he changed a lot?

A. He’s become a better speaker. He’s also now this world figure. When I went to East Africa with him in 2006, the moment I realized that he was absolutely an international figure, we were in downtown Nairobi and we went to the scene of the former U. S. embassy which was the first big al Qaeda bombing that took American lives. We went there with no advance noticeand just spontaneously, 25,000 to 30,000 people gathered at what’s now a memorial park. They started chanting in Swahili “Come to us Obama, come to us Obama.”

Q. Have you seen any other politician rise so quickly?

A. Nary a one. It’s unique in my experience.

Q. What’s made Obama so famous so fast?

A. The unique family story, what he refers to as his DNA, his biracial identity. He says he couldn’t be a racist—it’s in his DNA. Afer he became the editor of the Harvard Law Review, as I understand it, a publishing house approached him and said, “Why don’t you write your life story?” So that’s when he did the book “Dreams from My Father.” He has the bio that lets him be different things to different people. He, himself, says he’s the slate onto which people project what they want to see.

Q . How do you think the Obama campaign’s been run?

A. It’s been brilliant. It’s been disciplined. Whatever bellyaching or unhappiness there’s been stays inside the campaign. They had the great benefit of running against candidates who, including the presumably prohibitive frontrunner, grotesquely underestimated Obama. They really didn’t see until the voting was done that he was taking off and even then, they weren’t very effective in countering his camp.

Q. What made the campaign so smart?

A. [Obama’s] campaign studied the rules. They understood caucuses are driven by a cadre of activists. They saw the opening that alla those caucuses gave them, even in states like North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana, in places where Hillary wasn’t paying any attention. That provided him with the margin of victory. Texas was the classic case. She won by several percentage points the Texas primary but that same night there was a caucus. After the caucus was done, he ended up getting more delegates from Texas. He also won those overwhelmingly black districts and the rules of the party give bonuses to congressional districts and to states that have voted Democratic in the past. The Obama campaign understood more than Hillary did that the Democratic caucuse system is not one man, one woman, one vote. It has all these wrinkles.

Q. It’s been reported that the Obama campaign correctly predicted the outcome of each primary and caucus. What do you make of that?

A. That was [Obama Campaign Manager] David Plouffe. The guy’s a genius. Maybe a few days afer Iowa, maybe it was the night of New Hampshire, Plouffe was spotted in Raleigh, North Carolina, meeting with people there, putting an infrastructure in place, preparing to fund an effort in Carolina. And that, of course, is when it was the Indiana/North Carolina night when Tim Russert famously said, “We now know who the Democratic nominee in going to be.”

Q. Why haven’t we heard many leaks from the Obama campaign?

A. It helps that you’re a newcomer. Hillary was surrounded by all those p;eople who’d been around 20 to 30 years, who were part of the Washington game and had their own relationships with reporters. A lot of the Obama people didn’t have that. And she started to lose. I talked today to Patti Solis Doyle and I asked her about being scapegoated and she was telling me how hurtful, how painful it was. That goof Mark Penn was trying to sell reporters that ait was Patti Solis Doyle who’d run through the 150 million bucks and that Bill and Hillary were just innocent bystanders, out on the road, working their little tails off, as Patti is spending like a drunken campaign worker. The reason they put her in as campaign manager is because the two of them wanted to be campaign manager. Hillary was such a control freak. A lot of serious s and severe mistakes.

Q. What made Obama decide to run now?

A. Once Obama saw that dynamic—he saw a field of bunch of white guys and a white woman—he saw he could maneuver to be the last man standing. Let’s go back to the summer of `06, going to Democratic Senator Tom Harkin’s steak fry in Indianola, Iowa , on the county fairgrounds and Obama was the star of the show. Huge crowd, people begging him to run. It was clear that something was happening in Iowa.

Q. Did you believe that he’d end up running?

A. Yeah. After he won the primary for U.S. Senate in March of `04, two or three days later, I said, “Barack, all I want is an invitation to the White House Christmas party. And when you give out the Christmas tree ornament, I just want you to sign the box with the ornament and pose for a picture with my kids.” He said he would so I’m going to have to hold him to that.

Carol Marin Covers Obama—Interviewing Axelrod!

While other journalists including “The New York Times’” political staff express worry of Obama strategists about the close polls between Obama and John McCain, the “Sun-Times’” ace political analyst Carol Marin decides to find out. And she goes to none other than David Axelrod for the answer. Her conclusion in yesterday’s paper:

“What does it mean? Next to nothing. And Obama’s team not only knows it, it thrives on it.”

I remind you that Marin is a one-person monopoly of pro-Obama journalism in Chicago. She is (a) political columnist for the “Sun-Times.” (b) political reporter for NBC-TV channel 5 and (c) political interviewer on “Chicago Tonight” on WTTW-TV public television.

Between Flannery and Marin this is one good reason why the national networks have scooped the locals on Obama’s minister and other disadvantages of the Obama candidacy.

The flagrantly pro-Obama p.r. campaign masquerading as news involves two major city journalists…Flannery and Marin….being hand-fed by David Axelrod and echoing faithfully the Democratic party line.

And it is a journalistic scandal.

Baked Alaskan.

By Thomas F. Roeser

Last Week’s column in The Wanderer, oldest national Catholic weekly (with some updating since publication).

Baked Alaskan.

CHICAGO—The indictment and likely conviction last week of the top Senate Republican in seniority—after 40 years brokering deals, most of them fiscally reckless-- underscores the moral decay that has made the GOP only slightly less tolerable in governance than the Democrats.

And the corruption goes far deeper than the $200,000 worth of gifts that Alaska’s Ted Stevens, an Episcopalian, is accused of accepting and not listing on his Senate ethics forms. That’s minor league stuff. For at least a generation, most leading appropriating Republicans like Stevens have dealt under the table with Democrats—not on legislative issues where compromise is acceptable—but sharing the pie on billions of dollars of taxpayers’ expenditures, to keep the same crooked incumbent Demi-publican (or Republic-crat) party afloat, whose slogan is “where’s mine?”

Major media focus is on the 84-year-old Stevens’ money graft but this is peanuts next to the deals he has made to keep himself in power at the expense of the taxpayers as either Senate appropriations chairman or ranking Republican who has a deal going with the Democratic chairman, 90-year-old porker Bobby Byrd (D-WVa.). Still, the private boodle has ended his career. Federal authorities raided Stevens home in the resort town of Girdwood, 40 miles south of Anchorage, last summer. From May, 1999 to August, 2007, say prosecutors, Stevens hid “his continuing receipt of hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of things of value from a private corporation”—VECO, a major Alaska oil services company—from his Senate ethics disclosure form. This included major improvements to his vacation home in Alaska, including a new first floor, garage, wraparound deck, plumbing, electrical wiring, car exchanges, a gas grill, furniture and tools. In addition the feds charge he got huge discounts on cars by swapping cheaper models for more expensive ones—receiving a brand new Land Rover for his son worth $44,000 in exchange for a 1964 Mustang worth under $20,000.

But the big scandal is the dexterity with which Stevens primed the pump of federal spending on so many projects with bluster (“I’m a mean SOB” he declared on the Senate floor as his colleagues nodded, knowing he will never forget or forgive one who doesn’t support his spending). Born in Indianapolis, reared in California in modest circumstances, he graduated from UCLA and Harvard law on scholarships. He went to Alaska because it was virgin territory and ripe for a hustler, moving from U.S. attorney in Fairbanks to the legislature and then an appointment to the Senate at age 45. Since then he has been known as the purveyor of what is called in Alaska “Stevens money.”

The snuffling into the federal money trough never stopped. When he was appropriations chairman he ruled the roost but when he wasn’t he cut deals with the Democrat who was…swapping his votes for their projects so he could get repaid in turn. Some of the stuff he did for his state was good: getting the oil pipeline through by one vote in 1973, forcing through repeal of the stupid law banning exports of Alaskan oil, which opened up lush east Asian markets. And he has been the point man for opening up the ANWR to oil drilling. But as the years rolled on, Stevens became both sloppy and greedy. As much federal largesse as he could stuff into his bag, he would assign to Alaska. His state is a semi-welfare state, occupying first in per capita federal spending for more than a dozen years, with $13,800 spent on each Alaskan this year. The economy largely depends on oil and fishing on government-owned land and sea. Each of the state’s 680,000 inhabitants gets an annual payout of $1,654 from the Alaskan oil fund.

In 1998 Stevens held up the entire Senate in his fight to get federal goodies for a tiny Aleutian village of King Cove, gobbling $37.7 million for an airport road, a project that sent lawmakers’ eyes rolling in disbelief.

In the last two years alone, he treated tax money like it was his own personal philanthropy: $17 million for anti-alcohol funding in the state, $5.5 million for the University of Alaska, Fairbanks; $35 million for a commission to study Mount McKinley; $10 million for something called the Alaska Fisheries Marketing Board; $16.8 million to study sea lions in Alaska; 150,000 for a botanical garden in Anchorage; $900,000 for an aquarium in Ketchikan; $525,000 to upgrade a quarry in Nome; $750,000 to upgrade a quarry for something called the Bering Straits Native Corporation; and millions to pay Japanese technicians to come to Alaska to evaluate salmon eggs (the Japanese said they would only buy them if their technicians could inspect them and without these sales the fisheries would be unprofitable).

The limit seemed to have been reached in 2005 when Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla), a cost-conscious conservative, challenged the Old Lion and moved to de-fund the Ketchikan-Gravina bridge which Coburn called “a bridge to nowhere” which would connect the town of Ketchikan (population: 8,900) with an airport on the island of Gravina (population: 50) at a cost to federal taxpayers of $320 million. The bridge would relieve townsmen of having to wait from 15 to 30 minutes for a ferry and be charged $6 per car. Coburn argued the money should be used instead to rebuild a New Orleans bridge destroyed by Hurricane Katrina. Stevens took to the floor and shouted: “I will put the Senate on notice—and I don’t kid people—if the Senate decides to discriminate against our state, to take money from our state [italics mine] I’ll resign from this body. This is not the Senate I came to. This is not the Senate I’ve devoted 37 years to , if one senator can decide he’ll take all the money from one state to solve a problem of another.”

His resignation threat was viewed by most of his Republican and Democratic colleagues with alarm, not because they were endeared with the crotchety, profane Stevens but because as appropriations head, he was the body’s top broker of projects for their states. So they rallied and beat back the Coburn amendment 82 to 15.

Stevens’ role meant during the Clinton administration depended on support he got from the Oval Office for his Alaska projects. He paid Clinton back in spades in December, ,1998. That month Henry Hyde (R-IL), chairman of House Judiciary personally brought the House-passed bill of impeachment to the Senate to vote for conviction. There were two charges, one definitely provable, perjury under oath, the other less so—obstruction of justice.

Hyde, a close friend of this writer, was confident that any reasonable senator would vote to convict the president on perjury which special prosecutor Kenneth Starr had proven beyond a shadow of doubt with confiscated emails and computer hard-drive from Monica Lewinsky. Sixty-seven votes or two-thirds of the Senate were needed to convict. But when Hyde met privately with a group of leading Republican senators (along with the House prosecutor, Chicagoan David Schippers), it was Stevens who declared that Bill Clinton would not be convicted. He looked across the table at Hyde and said these words (according to Schippers who was interviewed by this writer):

“I don’t care if you prove that [Clinton] raped a woman and then stood up and shot her dead—you are not going to get sixty-seven votes.”

The nervous GOP leader, Trent Lott who was worried that the Clintons would leak stuff on his suspected indiscretions as a male cheerleader at Old Miss, smiled weakly. Stevens’ words meant far more than they conveyed. They meant Stevens would do all he could to save Clinton with whom he had several deals cooking. Hyde then knew conviction of Clinton was likely lost. Old Lion Stevens covered his tracks while working in behalf of Clinton. Working behind the scenes, he got malleable Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania to vote “not proven.” He collared liberal Republicans John Chafee (RI), Susan Collins (Maine), Fred Thompson (Tenn.) who needed an appropriation from Stevens for his state and John Warner (Virginia) who he knew was “always available for a deal.”

Then Stevens blurred his own record to give himself an argument for folks back home. While voting “not guilty” on the issue of perjury—the one count that could have easily convicted Clinton—he turned around and voted “guilty” on obstruction of justice, the harder-to-prove count to cover himself with conservatives and yet not hurt Clinton. At the last minute, rounding a turn in the Senate cloakroom he nailed another “not guilty” on perjury for his bag—conservative Richard Shelby (Ala.). Shelby was ready to vote Clinton guilty on perjury but really needed money for a dam in Alabama so as to make his reelection come easier. Result after bargaining with Stevens, Shelby voted “not guilty” on perjury. Clinton was spared conviction he richly deserved for perjury 45 “for” and 55 “against.” Freeing Clinton of obstruction was a piece of cake when even easy-going John Warner joined Stevens in voting “guilty” for a tally of 50 guilty and 50 not-guilty, still far from the 67 needed. That’s how the Senate’s ace dealmaker has always operated.

When he narrowly beat Tom Coburn of Oklahoma to save his expensive “bridge to nowhere,” the officious Stevens walked over to Coburn’s desk, leaned over and snarled in his ear: “You don’t care how you harm the Republican party, do ya, Tom?” “No, Ted,” said the evangelical Coburn, a medical doctor, calmly, “you’re the one who’s killing the party.” Last week Coburn was proved right. Stevens is very likely to lose re-nomination later this month and a Democrat is heavily favored to fill his Senate seat. If Stevens were to resign his seat now and be replaced on the ticket by a Republican, the GOP might hold the seat but the old man is going to go down fighting and bring his party in Alaska with him.

The Presidency: Enough Gaffes to Go Around.

Slowly but surely the Electoral College map is swinging rightward to favor John McCain, despite the fact that voters want change, despise George W. Bush and have a cynical view of Republicans except for national security. Realclearpolitics.com’s most recent poll shows Obama dipping below the win mark of 270 votes for 238. McCain has 163 and toss-up states total 137. That’s despite the fact that McCain made a huge gaffe in his supposed area of expertise on “Good Morning America” when asked how serious the situation in Afghanistan is. “I think it’s serious,” said the 22-year senator. “It’s a serious situation but there’s a lot of things we need to do. We have a lot of work to do and I’m afraid it’s a very hard struggle, particularly given the situation on the Iraq-Pakistan border.”

One problem. Iraq and Pakistan don’t share a border. Afghanistan and Pakistan do. Yet the public isn’t watching him but is watching Obama. For that reason, the election is Obama’s today but his to lose. What worries Chicago’s David Axelrod, Obama’s top strategist, is that Obama is doing fairly well in that department. He s currently viewed as favorable by 51% (Rasmussen report) and McCain by 55%. This is the lowest rating for Obama since he wrapped up the nomination. The Illinoisan is viewed favorably by 83% of Democrats, 22% of Republicans and 47% of unaffiliated voters. McCain: 87% favorable by Republicans (a big change), 26% by Democrats and 61% by unaffiliated voters, a figure that is growing seemingly with every poll. Even more devastating is that only 31% of white voters tell The New York Times that they have a favorable impression of Obama compared with 83% of blacks. Last week Colorado went from Obama up five to McCain up two; Michigan from Obama plus six to plus four, Minnesota from Obama up 17 to up two and Wisconsin from a 13-point Obama lead to an 11-point lead.

Obama’s gaffes have not been geographic but glaring ego hubris. In late June for a press conference in Chicago, his staff assemble a presidential-looking seal on his rostrums where he spoke. The oversized blue seal was emblazoned with the Latin phrase Vero Possumus meaning “yes, we can!” Andrew Malcolm of the Los Angeles Times wrote he “has decided not to wait for any of the formalities of a presidential election or even a nomination which he still hasn’t official won yet.” The seal was dumped the next day.

The next month, after a brilliant tour in the Middle East where the Iraqi premier seemed to endorse him and kiss him on both cheeks, came his speech to 200,000 at Victory Column in Berlin. There his messianic ego seemed to control him. “Tonight I speak to you as…a citizen of the world!” he said. There was a low rumble from his blue-collar labor union backers back in Chicago who wanted someone to put the U.S. back to work in manufacturing jobs not be a citizen of the world.

By the end of July when he had returned to the U.S. there was an adoration session for him with fellow Democratic lawmakers in the Cannon House Office building caucus room. Capitol police cleared the aisles as they do for an incoming president and committee chairmen arrived early as they do for the State of the Union. Cops and secret service hustled him in a side door as they do an incumbent president. And this is what he said, according to a liberal reporter, Dana Milbank of the pro-Obama Washington Post:

“This is the moment…that the world is waiting for…I have become a symbol of the possibility of America returning to its best traditions [italics mine].”

On the way to a meeting with British Prime Minister Gordon Brown at the Willard Hotel, believe it or not a full block of F Street was closed and some 40 security and motorcade vehicles filled the street. Later, after a meeting with the Pakistan premier, he issued a presidential-style statement: “I had a productive and wide-ranging discussion…I look forward to working with the democratically-elected government of Pakistan.” At a Jewish deli I frequent on Saturday afternoons, a blue-collar Democratic joint, somebody cracked: “All he needs now is a cape.”

In late July, in Missouri, Obama made what may have been not just a gaffe but a fatal miscalculation when he told an audience that the McCain campaign is going to “try to make you scared of me. You know, he’s not patriotic enough. He’s got a funny name. You know, he doesn’t look like all those other presidents on those dollar bills, you know. He’s risky. That’s essentially the argument they’re making [italics mine].” It was an attempt to churn up anger against fancied racism. The Sleepy Eye of the electorate may just have opened wide at that point, evidence that Obama will use race to gain sympathy.

Not that the Republicans didn’t ever recently use the race card. In 2006 the RNC produced a TV commercial against outstanding, relatively conservative black Tennessee senate candidate, Cong. Harold Ford that featured a provocative white woman winking at the camera and saying “Harold—call me!” That was one of the most scurrilous commercials I’ve seen which contributed to Ford’s loss in Tennessee. But now Obama himself seemingly played the card and the reception he got across the country wasn’t pretty.

By early August, political analysts decided on Obama’s trademark. All presidential candidates have them. Daddy Bush was “a nice guy but out of touch.” Bill Clinton: “smart but randy.” Bob Dole: “heroic but too old.” Gore: “a fibber and a bore.” George W. Bush: “pleasant but dumb.” Obama has now become “charismatic but arrogant.”

Veep Possibilities.

Mark down Sen. Evan Bayh (Indiana) as top-drawer for Obama running mate but Virginia Governor Tim Kaine is right up there. Kaine is a Catholic, called “devout” by the media--but then all Democrat Catholics pols usually are so called by journalists. Kaine may have a claim however since he took a year off from Harvard law school to work as a missionary with the Jesuit Volunteer Corps in Honduras. But sure enough, he’s an agonized Catholic “pro-abort” as he told TV interviewer Charlie Rose, stressing that he’s personally opposed to abortion—but…a stand first taken by Jimmy Carter. But he won’t have to worry about a Catholic prelate blistering him for his abortion stance. Bishop Francis Xavier DiLorenzo has greased the skids already by declaring he is for “an integrated approach to right to life” and in Arlington, Bishop Paul Loverde has a similar stance.

On the Republican side, if McCain doesn’t pick Mitt Romney of Michigan he may be regarded as eccentric, a speculation he has faced often before. Romney seems to be the only one who can fortify the candidate’s shaky views on the economy plus having a chance to carry the state where his father Governor George was immensely popular and which Mitt carried easily in this year’s primary. Yet Romney’s Rube Goldberg health care program in Massachusetts, devised when Mitt was a liberal Republican, has been drawing fire for being as much a boondoggle as the Democrats can devise. It may be that the best candidate McCain can pick is John Kasich, the former Ohio congressman who has been a Fox network TV host. Kasich is blue-collar, pro-life and could go a long way for the ticket to carry essential Ohio.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Personal Asides: Thoughts While Shaving.



My favorite radio show as I drive downtown most every late morning comes on at noon on WBBM. I catch Rush at 11 on WLS, my station, but switch for solid economics news an hour later. It’s the Noon Business Hour where the co-host is a woman named Kris Kridel. Her partner is Sherman Kaplan whom I’ve been listening to for years with his restaurant reviews which are every bit as good as the ones “The New York Times” used to print from Clay Claiborne.

Kaplan knows a lot about the economy as his comments and questions show—but let’s face it, it’s Kris I’m interested in. Not taking anything away from Kaplan, but it’s her voice. A voice that tells me she is the ultra-competent, self-contained woman with mastery of subject, great diction, beautiful composure and control. Her voice alone tells me she knows intrinsically the economic problems of the day. It’s her voice that is superlative. If say Laura Ingraham on Salem, a conservative talk show host, had Kris’ voice instead of the screeching one she is fated to have, she’d--. Well, Kridel’s voice is really something. The closest competitor to her voice-wise is Kathy Brock: close but still not quite. Sadly, Cheryl Burton, probably the most beautiful woman anchor in the world, has a grating voice. No, for female voice with authority that causes you to melt, soft but compelling, it’s Kris Kridel.

She can read the old Ward’s catalogue and make me listen. And the questions she asks of her guests—top-flight economists like Brian Wesbury…shows thorough grasp, obviously not just last-minute prepping from talking points. She made an appearance the other night on WTTW-TV and I raced upstairs from my basement office to see what she looks like. Just as I suspected—wondrously middle-aged, cool, confident with a dash of wit. Brilliant. She’s got a masters from Ohio State and teaches journalism at Loyola…or at least did. Believe me, her voice carries the ring of competence and authority. If she were to say I ought to get rid of my car and buy a new one I’d take it with the same authenticity as if it came from my wife. She’s someone I’d like to have coffee with to discuss the economy. I’m not mashing, you see. I’m 80 after all.


As a Republican I am obviously elated that John McCain…who was not my first choice…seems to be doing so well. In fact, he seems to be winning the presidential campaign. But I am still depressed. Why? Because McCain’s forces have utterly no ground game. A ground game…politicians’ term for registration and get-out-the-vote…adds at least 2% to the margin a politician must have. McCain is an old guerrilla fighter and never had a ground game. When George W. Bush ran in 2004 he squeaked by…and the only way he won was by his ground game. Hence I am guardedly optimistic but mainly depressed. I was contacted by a young man involved in the ground game for McCain but I wonder how many other conservatives have. Let’s set a plebiscite now. Have you been contacted by a McCain worker? Let me know.


The rumor I get from Democrats is that Hillary Clinton has been playing very hard to get for the Barack Obama forces despite the fact that Barack himself lauds her cooperation. I hear that whenever they run a name of a vice presidential choice by her she turns thumbs down. Not surprising since obviously she wants the vice presidential nod herself. But also not surprising is that the Obama forces don’t want to give it to her. I asked one Obama strategist why not…if the combination would spell victory? After all, a good number of running mates didn’t care for each other continuing down through the years…including Coolidge and Dawes who were in power when I was born in 1928.

I was a fan of Charlie Dawes of Evanston: a banker, head of the old City National Bank of Chicago, the first director of the bureau of the budget…who made an historic contribution. Before Charlie each cabinet department had to get its own budget passed independently of each other. Charlie made a unified budget. He was an outstanding quartermaster general in World War I and rightly chosen by Coolidge as a running mate in 1924. But the next year he decided to take a nap at the Willard Hotel rather than preside over the Senate. History was changed and he became the goat.

Up for debate was Coolidge’s nomination of an attorney general to replace Warren Harding’s AG who was compromised by Teapot Dome and had to resign…Charles Warren to prosecute the anticipated felons from the scandal. The Democrats argued that Warren was too close to some of the Teapot Dome people…he wasn’t at all… and opposed his nomination. They filibustered against him. That afternoon, Dawes was so sleepy he decided he needed a nap. So he conferred with lawmakers who said the vote on Warren’s nomination wouldn’t come up for a vote that day. Accordingly he went to the Willard for a nap. But as soon as he left, the number of Democratic speakers dissolved and the vote was called. The Democrats put one over on sagacious old Charlie Dawes.

They called Dawes at the Willard and he raced over to the Capitol in a cab but arrived too late. Warren lost but would have won had Dawes voted. As result, Coolidge never talked to his vice president again. I don’t blame him.

I wanted to see him when it was announced on April 23, 1951 that at age 87 he was due to ride in a car with Douglas MacArthur in Chicago to lay a wreath at the Bataan bridge (now called the State street bridge). But when they came to pick him up at his Evanston mansion, he was found dead. In addition, he was also a popular song-writer, writing the words and music to a ballad that was still popular about 30 years ago—“It’s All in the Game.”

Now the Obama forces would know that a vice president Hillary would not sneak out for a nap. What’s the reason for their objection? The Obama man I talked to admitted there is a strong sense of paranoia existent in their campaign. They worry that Bill Clinton’s complicated business deals would have to be probed in the same way Gerry Ferraro’s husbands deals were when she was nominated to run with Fritz Mondale in 1984. But beyond that, they worry…my source says…that (a) the Clintons had done a great deal of negative investigations on Obama and may still have something on him with the result that (b) surreptitious Clinton generated disclosures could force Obama off the ticket and Hillary would get the nomination by default.

So Hillary would get on the ticket, then wink at Sid Blumenthal, their hatchet man, and he’d release the scandal which would bump Obama off and help Hillary.

I ask: would Hillary and Bill do that?

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Personal Aside: Two Autocrats of the Breakfast Table… and Their Sons’ Differing Views of the World.


Two Dominant Fathers.

I have written many times about how fortunate I was to have a father with strong conservative political convictions. Each morning from the age of 8 on, I was made to read aloud the editorials of the “Chicago Tribune” while he stropped his razor, mixed with brush the soap in his shaving mug embossed with his initials in gold—HNR--to the proper consistency of lather and shaved. Later at breakfast he was truly the autocrat of the breakfast table, with the “Tribune”—its front page decorated with a satiric anti-FDR cartoon drawn by John T. McCutcheon, Cary Orr or Joseph Parrish, propped up against the kitchen wall, attired in white shirt, immaculate bow tie and vest as he chomped his bacon and one egg. From 1933 when Franklin Roosevelt was first inaugurated and for twelve years thereafter he shouted fie on all of the New Deal pomp, works, principalities and powers—with which I agreed then and do now.

As result I went to my nearby Saint Juliana’s grade school convinced that Franklin Roosevelt was a distant relative of Lucifer. “The man is decidedly evil!” Father said. As it turned out that Father was responsible for my first schoolyard beating which I rather savor in retrospect even now. It was in the election of 1936 when all my third grade classmates—our nun, too—were decided Democrats.

I made the error of taunting them at recess by intoning this phrase suitable for an 8 year old’s use, composed by Father for my use: “Landon in the White House, waiting to be elected. Roosevelt in the ashcan waiting to be collected!” Decidedly not cerebral but it fit neatly with our 8-year-old schoolyard mentality. It was infuriating enough that my classmates flew at me in the cinder-filled schoolyard and beat me til their arms ached as the good nuns stood apart and pretended not to see. I fought back bravely giving as much as I received but James Clune slipped behind me and knelt down on all fours. Raymond Didier then shoved me and I went down, sprawling over Clune’s back. Then it became a pig-pile with seven of them breaking my glasses and giving me a bloody nose. That afternoon when I went to the optometrist my nun refused to mark my absence warranted. Thus I learned the tyranny of the majority.

When Pearl Harbor came, Father refused to accept the Rooseveltian thesis that it came solely as result of Japanese treachery. He said: “Nonsense, this gang in the White House encouraged it because they wanted to go to war to aid England.” He was exactly right and I believe it now. The machinations behind the scenes are superbly documented in Fleming’s book and were corroborated by me in my much later luncheons with Thomas (Tommy the Cork) Corcoran who had become an ally of my then boss Rep. Walter Judd (R-MN). Yet the onrushing tide of events warranted that we get engaged in the battle to defeat Communism as Corcoran, I and the overwhelming number of conservatives were engaged. I guess all this while—from 1964 through 1992—Pat Buchanan was secretly opposed.

All the same, it was wonderful to have a father with such a pronounced shade of opinion on politics. He led me to embrace journalism…particularly political journalism…as a career which has continued until now. Not that father was always right. He was occasionally wrong but never in doubt. Later in 1953 when at the age of 25 I got my first break on a national story from the decidedly obscure spot on the Saint Cloud (Minnesota) “Times” with an interview of Mrs. Eleanor Roosevelt which gained national attention through the Associated Press, he was decidedly proud, sublimating his anger at the Roosevelt clan which he cordially predicted would be thrust into the bottomless pit of fiery hell.

As Autocrat of the Breakfast Table, Father taught me rudimentary free market economics and the necessary doctrine of then acceptable 1930s isolationism. He rightly led me through the gradations of understanding that Woodrow Wilson had out of messianic desire fudged the record so that we would go to World War I. He had the same suspicion of Franklin Roosevelt. It was from him that I first learned of the “America First Committee” and the suspicion that Pearl Harbor was at least anticipated by Roosevelt and the then army chief of staff, George Marshall…views which have stayed with me since and which since has been ratified by the scholarship of Thomas Fleming (no, not the president of the Rockford Institute but an historian of the same name).

A View of Hitler from the Balcony.

With Father (and Mother) I made my first trip to Europe in 1938 at the age of 10. We were eyewitnesses to Hitler’s takeover of Austria and indeed I saw the tyrant from the hotel balcony of the Hotel Metropole as his victory procession entered Vienna, him standing in an open car, his hand in a half Hitlerian salute as this son of Austria received due gratitude from teeming thousands. Father was privately working against Hitler unbeknownst to his German employer (it turned out that decades later I discovered he was an operative of the FBI even during our European trip, dispensing information to the Justice Department on Germanic activities in the midwest). He had a strongly supportive view of Winston Churchill but his hatred of FDR was undeviating. He understood full well how Churchill needed Roosevelt’s cooperation to win the war. He loved Churchill as a patriot but he believed Roosevelt was not one. That’s rather difficult to understand now but not then when I was ten.

Much later I got to know Pat Buchanan who was working for Richard Nixon. It turned out that he had a Father who meant the world to him, too and was responsible for his involvement in journalism and politics. Bill Buchanan however evidently was an Irishman imbued with a same kind of Irishman’s hatred of the Brits as motivated by grandfather Tom Cleary in the 1920s. As we would associate together some times—not often—with me hiring Pat in my capacity as an officer of Quaker Oats to speech for a good fee to our sales meetings…hiring him to guest-lecture at my classes including at Northwestern and Harvard…I was not aware of the obvious difference between us. .

For one thing, I had always thought Pat felt angered as did all conservatives—my father and I among them-- when Truman fired Douglas MacArthur whose gallant plan to actually win the Korean War. Evidently not. My father and I supported Goldwater in 1964 whose plan was called “Why Not Victory?” in Vietnam. Evidently not Pat. Stunning in view that he worked for Nixon who preached victory, crafted many of his speeches in 1968 and went to China with him when Nixon made his stupendously brilliant diplomatic success that shattered the once monolithic alliance between the USSR and China.

Later he went overseas as an assistant with Ronald Reagan who preached victory in the Cold War--and was at the several international meetings where Reagan decisively changed the calculus of the Cold War…leading to the USSR’s ultimate collapse. When Pat reentered private life, he spoke at a number of meetings held by Quaker for which I had him paid. We met for lunch several times as I briefed him for those sessions. But evidently he was keeping his true thoughts to himself—which were largely opposite to the course of the two presidents he served and the tenor of conservatism that ran since Truman’s firing of MacArthur in 1951.

It was only when Pat ran for president in 1988…in 1992 and then 2000 (the weirdest campaign of all)… where his markedly divergent views were made apparent, at least to me. Even so I guess I misjudged the enormity of the chasm between us…on the U.S.’s world role particularly. Only after I met with him after he became a presidential candidate in 1992—and indeed I hosted him at Rosemont and introduced him there—it became apparent to me that his ambition to become president was a radical pretext, far different from any other conservative Republican. It involved him shielding with his cupped hands the flickering flame of the vigil light memorializing the Irish Bill Buchanan who hated the Brits. Pat’s father was as much loved by him as my father was by me. Then came 1996 where he incredibly renounced his lifelong affiliation with the Republican party and engaged in a fringe effort for the presidency as a Reform party candidate. His views on all the issues were radical but even worse—highly improbable. In his speeches, all of them brilliantly conceived, he used de-construction to concoct a theory at wide variance with actual historic events.

I still have a tender feeling for Pat but the atmosphere changed very drastically since the 1930s when our fathers were both the autocrats of our breakfast tables. My father changed from embracing the legitimate position of opponent to our entry into World War II which I shared and still share and the need to oppose Communism in the world theatre. Not so Pat. His father to which he is so keenly devoted (as I am to mine) was evidently not able to convert to practical reality, hence Pat seems to want to please his memory by acting as if times had not change, keeping the old isolationism as if it were a dead fly, contained permanently—airless—encased in the amber of the 1930s.

His book which I read in totality in the hospital, “Churchill, Hitler and the `Unnecessary War’: How Britain Lost an Empire and the West Lost the World” was obviously a tribute to those views of so long ago when our fathers were autocrats of the breakfast table…views my father later amended

to conform with the needs of the time to oppose Communism. It appears Buchanan’s father and Pat himself rubbed their scabs against the British vis-à-vis the Irish. Hyperbole abounds in the book. Its subtitle—“How the West Lost the World”—is astounding. It is incredible that the subtitle itself isn’t laughed out of the bookstore. Who the hell does he think won the Cold War? “Lost the World” indeed! And this animus toward Churchill—reflective of the 1930s Irishman Bill Buchanan hating Britain. Churchill was at the root of all the problems but Pat is duplicitous enough to call him a great man in interviews where he obviously doesn’t believe it basis his writings. There is a pathetic fondness for Germanic style war…coming close to pro-Naziism-- which he exculpates with ease. Here are some of his most fallacious points—stunning in their inaccuracy:

Starting off, he concocts that it was Churchill and the British who started World War II! Hitler had little or nothing to do with it. Oh, Pat bad-mouths Hitler. But it’s obligatory so as to build a chiaroscuro so as to set up the real villain—Winston Churchill. Where he is right is to point to World War I as containing the seeds of War II. But he detours to evoke Irish nationalism writing “how the British had sent `Black and Tans’ to shoot down Irish patriots’” just as my Irish grandfather Tom Cleary and his sister Alice, both Irish patriots (a woman whom in her old age we called Aunt Addie) maintained…possibly rightly but which had nothing to do with the origin of World War II. Things have not changed since then for Pat. Were both Tom and Addie to be disinterred from their graves they would be warmly greeted by reading Pat as if nothing had changed. It’s Irish unforgiveness, after all.

Wilhelm Drops Bismarck as Nation’s Pilot.

As the 20th century opened, Germany had converted itself into a tower of economic strength, seizing the last remaining colonies in Africa in an effort to catch up with the other colonial powers. Young Kaiser Wilhelm II who came to the throne at 29 removed the great Chancellor Otto von Bismarck because of personal jealousy, tired of sitting on the throne watching how the great man maneuvered in the complex chess game of world diplomacy. Bismarck himself contributed to his own political demise by ruling young Wilhelm as a Crown Prince and separating the boy from his parents so as to use the kid to bolster Bismarck’s prestige. It worked until Wilhelm became Kaiser and then the imperial leader ditched Bismarck. Kaiser Bill embarked on a massive armament program to build a navy to rival Britain’s…viewing himself as the embodiment of Prussian greatness, something that Bismarck would have avoided.

To his dying day, Bismarck told his friends that the Kaiser was a homosexual and was engaging in nefarious meetings with his lover, Philip , prince of Eulenburg-Hertefeld which at the time was illegal under German law. This was far from the case. Wilhelm had had seven children with his first wife and married a second, a real looker, 30 years his junior-- but a case of old Bismarck seeking revenge, it is clear that Wilhelm was all thumbs sending warlike echoes to Britain. He engaged in emotional tirades including his infamous interview with the London Daily Telegraph where he pounded the table and shouted “you English are mad-mad-mad as March hares!”

Obviously, then, Churchill, the British patriot, wondered about the reason for this great German naval buildup. Then Wilhelm sought to invent international crises such as in Morocco, pretending to take land that was France’s, suspecting the Entente Cordiale was an anti-German plot where in fact it did not involve Germany. Mental instability was rife on both sides of Wilhelm’s genealogy and his impatience was such that he quarreled also with Bismarck’s successor Bernhard von Bulow, trying to arrange international deals without telling his Chancellor. Bulow gave up and quit. Wilhelm veered into the dark paranoia first exhibited by Frederick the Great who suspected Britain was trying to encircle Germany with enemies.

Whether it was or wasn’t, Frederick at least didn’t fly off the handle as did Wilhelm. The fuse was lit when in 1914 a Serbian fanatic killed the heir to the throne of Germany’s close ally, the Austro-Hungarian empire. The Austrians demanded an apology; the Serbians complied but Austria bombarded Belgrade. That triggered Russia with strong sympathies to the Serbian people to mobilize which sent Wilhelm into a fury demanding Russia stop the mobilizing—or else. Russia did not; Germany declared war on Russia on August 1, 1914 which Barbara Tuchman has called “the guns of August” and later France. Germany struck at France by moving through Belgium which had maintained neutrality since 1839…but there is some evidence that Belgium was not in fact neutral… and Britain inveighed against Germany not to invade Belgium. Germany would not agree and Europe’s war was on with Britain allied with France.

Where both Buchanans, father and son, agree with both Roesers, father and son, is that Woodrow Wilson preening to play a leading role on the world stage began to maneuver us into war…but lied to the American people by saying in the election of 1916 he was seeking peace…but once after reelection was desperate to go to war so he could become a world statesman.

The Lusitania, a Cunard ship steamed from New York to Britain in the midst of the hostilities loaded to the gills with armaments to be used against Germany and once it was struck by German subs blew up sky-high…whereupon the saintly hypocrite Wilson wept lachrymose tears for the innocents when he had known all along that his government had sent the unknowing passengers into harm’s way.

Hitler Justified, Churchill the Villain.

Buchanan takes up the case of a Germany surrounded by hostile nations—spurious as Bismarck understood it—and then justifies Adolf Hitler’s rise…bad-mouthing him as evil obligatorily…but viewing Churchill as the arch-villain. Oh he rightly blames the victorious Allies for wringing the living sweat out of Germany in the Versailles treaty. Right he is in that Lloyd George, Orlando of Italy and Clemenceau of France wanted retribution and the spuriously-saintly Wilson allowed the punitive treaty to take place at all costs so he could get the League of Nations set up that could deify him as a world statesman. Apart from some unsalutary references, Hitler is portrayed in thoroughly understandable terms and Churchill as the evil genius who wanted to rake the dead coals to punish the German people in perpetuity.

Pat, a clever man, is a notoriously effective wordsmith. . Linked unsuccessfully in the past with anti-Semitic views, he postulates piously that most of Europe’s Jews would have been saved if Britain and America had not entered the war. Their entry caused Hitler to suspect Jewish influence so he killed them. It wouldn’t have happened if Hitler were allowed to go his way. (Did Buchanan ever read “Mein Kampf”?).

On and on it goes but I run out of time and patience at this late hour. With this book which appeals to the paleos, Pat has been listed with the “New York Times” best-sellers but it is clear his real reward is to justify to the long dead Bill Buchanan that he has kept the faith…to wreak hatred on the British for what they did to the Irish. Whereas my father understood the machinations of Wilson and Roosevelt and joined the FBI to fight Hitlerism in this country. My fealty to Harold Roeser stems from his understanding that after World War II that we needed to do all we could to defeat world Communism.

The irony is that Pat doesn’t even recognize the defeat of Communism, done so gloriously under his old boss Ronald Reagan—because “the West lost the World”! Thus do the old Irish of his vintage remain obdurate to facts and history to the end.

With this book, he’s gone as dotty as old Kaiser Bill. His pro-Germanic traits flow on, eternally getting even with the hated British for what they did to the Irish. And Churchill was the cause of it all, the master manipulator who caused the West to “lose the world.” When last I checked, Winston Churchill is still regarded…and justly…as the greatest leader of the 20th century and the greatest Englishman of all time.

Sorry, Pat. You’ll be eternally the fly captured in mid-1930s flight in amber. Never changing with that those piping high-voiced views that make you increasingly indistinguishable from Eleanor Clift the lefty and the embittered ex-Jesuit priest accused of sexual harassment, John McLaughlin whose show has been cast in the dustbin of irrelevancy.