Friday, October 17, 2008
Personal Aside: Cross-Eyed CommentatorsThose Who Are So Democratic Party-Oriented They Cant See Straight.
But First, the Straight-Eyed.
Herewith begins a series of reviews on Chicago area newspaper columnists and TV reporters I called cross-eyedso committed to the Democratic party they cant see straight.
As we begin, lets salute the straight-eyed. One is John Kass of the Tribune who should get a Pulitzer and is far ahead of the late Mike Royko for his perspicuity on local and national issues. Kass cheered the conviction of Scooter Libby, for example (while I didnt) but he has been brilliant and unrelenting on his perception of the Daley machines co-optation of the left at marked variance with the old order of Daleys father. Kass analysis of the Hyde Park contingent and Billy Ayres has been the only glimmer of light in a Chicago media that has been almost unrelievedly impenetrable by the supine pro-Obama set.
Another who is straight-eyed and youll be surprised to hear me cite her is Lynn Sweet of the Sun-Times. She is undeniably a liberal but shes a journalist first. Ever so often the Obama people do something that sticks in Lynns craw. She has the ability based on her first-hand knowledge of politics (she probably knows the trade down to the nuts and bolts better than any other presidential-covering journalist to sift through the chaff put out by the Democrats. Axelrod and Rahm Emanuel, the Cassius-duo, are leery of her since she can puncture their armor at any moment.
Still another is Fran Spielman of the Sun-Times who covers city hall and does not allow herself to be romanced or intimidated by the Daley administration, resulting in fair, accurate and fearless coverage. I will always remember her writing in a news analysis story that Rahm Emanuel owes his soul to Daley. Aside from John Kass, no one else would ever say that unvarnished truth. The only exception I would make is that Emanuel sold his soul to Daley lock-stock-and-barrel when he was raising Jewish money a proficiency at which he was deemed expert many years ago.
More of the straight-eyed in subsequent issues.
We start with Carol Marin the political columnist of the Sun-Times. She made her mark as a smooth TV anchor and feature reporter where her views were not readily known. Then came her rebellion at Channel 5 when management wanted to include Jerry Springer as a commentator. She left with a tsunami of favorable publicity but what wasnt realized at the time was that her renegotiation was up for grabs and she might not have been retained anyway. But it worked. She has a smooth TV style--but as soon as she went over to the Sun-Times her mood 1960s Mother Superior attitude literally conveyed her true beliefs, that of a morally superior dilettante in politics who wants to enable true social justice on earth. Social justice means the welfare state and which party better represents this goal than the Dems. All tied up in her sense of religious self-rectitude which betrays, of course, a sense of vacuous non-theology.
Her first column was to celebrate that 14-carat phony with a self-embroidered history of radical activism from yesteryear, Studs Terkel, 96, a self-promoting agnostic windbag who named one of his kids after declared Communist stage actor and singer Paul Robson and , to hear Terkel tell it in his rasping voice which thrills his listeners since they fathom the real man of the street is talking marched with the Wobblies, braved assaults from the club-wielding goons in the Armour strike, endured beatings with Walter Reuther in the Detroit sit-down strikes of the 1930, fought the white racists who opposed blacks swimming off a South Side pier in the 1920s, was black-listed because of his opposition to that hideous Joe McCarthy all the stories inflating in coloration by the yearsome invented out of whole cloth--while Ms. Marin beamed expressively and accepted his supposed man-in-the-street lingo as true genre.
As the late Steve Neal, no conservative, pointed out in a column Terkel never did anything of note for the working class, is in reality a b.sing blatherer of tales who would long since have been thrown out of a neighborhood bar for inculcating terminal boredom, since he has lived far longer than most and has license to exaggerate scandalously without fact-checking. Aside from a brief acting career on early TV, Terkels has done nothing noteworthy except to snap on a tape recorder and capture stories from first-hand participants for which, as a canny capitalist, he paid nothing but from which he made a fortune for himselfbeginning with Division Street America. A self-proclaimed man of the people, he deliberately never learned to drive and rides a bus, taking care to sit by the window where he, festooned in his red-checked shirt, can be quickly glimpsed. I debated him once at Bughouse Square. A coward when confronted, this giant puff ball self-inflated turned into a clawless pussy cat. I actually went easy on him after he caved. It was the first time he was ever called on any of his stories because his recollections were at variance with history. Marin the dilettante swallows it all.
The late John McDermott a once squishy soft liberal but always a truly authenticist Catholic (who changed to a Reagan voter because of the pro-life issue, and who was for years an office mate of mine) once embarked on a self-designated campaign to encourage Marin, either a fallen away or fallen away wanna-be to re-embrace the faith. According to McDermott her conditions involved the whole swath of feminism: contraception, abortion rights, keep-your-hands-off-my-womb, women priests, women bishops, gay rights. Oh, said I, sarcastically, by all means let us immediately reformulate 2000 years of theology so Carol will go back to the church! He never gave up on her and remembered her in his prayers every day. I said: save your breath.
So Democratic party cross-eyed is she that when she interviewed Henry Hyde for her paper she had to put in the piece that she told him she came from a family where the women never voted Republicanas if anyone cares but it was her way of squaring herself to write about him at all. Her way of getting an insight into how the presidential campaign is going is to sit down with David Axelrod whom (ith her little girl naivete) he thinks will give it to her straight. So cross-eyed is she that she actually believes this stuff.
And of course she is also the cross-eyed political editor of Channel 5 and cross-eyed contributor to Chicago Tonight on Channel 11 (the latter sorely missing the cerebral presence of John Callaway). His successor, the rudderless Phil Ponce. Ponce a tennis anyone? subject would be an excellent lead in a revival of How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, his bland face unblemished by horrid thought lines caused by introspection as he has not been overly burdened by ideas (only a dab with a powder puff is needed to erase his 50 something years). Under the fashionable but mindless leftism of manager Dan Schmidt who is intent of pushing the gay agenda which is his special interest, Ponce regards panels as consisting of only those who fundamentally agree with liberal positioning with him doing nothing more than shooting his eyes from guest to guest like a tennis game watcher). Incidentally, we will have a litter of Ponces to watch for at least another generation as he has sired two sons who are on other TV stations, interchangeable, inoffensive, eager to please look-alikes and maybe more to come.
Elizabeth Brackett is an interviewer on the WTTW show but not cross-eyed. More about her later.