Thursday, December 18, 2008

Personal Aside: Unpredictable Views--Ray LaHood is Good Choice for Transportation Secretary…Impounding Blago’s Rights…Jack Franks is Unique—a Democrat Who’d Make a Fine AG…Com’on Mike!


Just to confuse those who think I’m predictable, my views on the following are at odds with standard Republican thinking…but so be it.

LaHood Pick an Excellent One.

My view…based on knowing him well…is that Rep. Ray LaHood is an excellent choice for transportation secretary—despite the fact that he has been a member in good standing of the Combine (although untouched by any ethical problems). Something which always stands ace-high with me: Ray is a solid pro-lifer and was a close friend of Henry Hyde who introduced us the first time. I was disappointed when Ray’s bid for the Republican nomination for governor didn’t work out. He’s a spender but also a prescient legislative craftsman…and given Illinois’ liberal bent would have been a great pick for the top job. Having a Republican pro-life governor would have satisfied me and many others.

Assuredly, there have been times when Ray and I have been divided…as when he criticized Peter Fitzgerald for refusing to be a get-along, go-along guy on pork and when he backed Andy McKenna to oppose Fitzgerald in a primary (that didn’t happen). But I have had a high regard for Ray based on the skilled way he presided over the House in very difficult times. Both parties acknowledge that when the waters got choppy and Dennis Hastert passed the gavel over to LaHood, it was in fair and skilled hands. As per the impeachment resolution against Bill Clinton. LaHood is one of the very few congressmen I’ve seen who knows intimately the working procedure of the House and the nuances of legislation.

From the standpoint of Barack Obama…needing a Republican in his cabinet…the choice of Ray LaHood is infinitely preferable to someone like Chuck Hagel whom I thought would get a nod (and who, for all I know, may still get something although I hope not).

Impounding Blago’s Right to Fair Trial.

The “Sun-Times” last night posted on its website the exclusive that the feds have seized and frozen Blago’s campaign fund from which he is paying his attorney, Ed Genson. There’s no doubt in my mind that the governor is guilty and should be impeached…but it strikes me that here again there is a quality of zealotry in Pat Fitzgerald that ought to be constrained: the same zealotry that took an original case of who-leaked-Plame’s-CIA-connection…began by the prosecution knowing full well who the leaker was…cautioning the leaker and Bob Novak to shut up about it…and ended up convicting Libby for supposedly (I still don’t think the charge was proven) lying on another matter. It struck me then and does now that Brother Fitzgerald wanted to demonstrate to the world that he was not intimidated by the Bushies and for proof served up Libby’s head on a platter. As highly as I regard Fitzgerald, that episode unsettled me.

The act of stripping Blago’s resources so he cannot pay for his own defense attorney by the Feds strikes me the same way. I guess they did this to George Ryan, too which led Big Jim to take his case pro-bono…but somehow in that action, too, the Feds seemed to put their thumb on the scale of justice. When you consider the huge preponderance of legal weight in the prosecution paid by the taxpayers, to pre-dispose the defendant to be deprived of adequate legal counsel, seems to me a bit much. Of course I am not a lawyer but I would like someone who is tell me how that action can be justified.

In that connection, Genson seems to have a case that it is historically the duty of the state attorney general to defend the governor no matter what his excesses…and that it would make sense for Genson to be appointed a special attorney general. After all, people, we’re not supposed to be running a kangaroo court here with the defendant standing naked before his enemies.

Jack Franks a True Leader.

As many who read this website know, I have a specially warm and high regard for State Rep. Jack Franks (R-Woodstock), chairman of the House Government Affairs committee. From the outset of his career, he has impressed me by allowing common sense and basic fairness to trump partisan politics. While he and I disagree…and have disagreed…on issues of pro-life and the presidency (he supported Hillary Clinton)…I have long been struck by his basic fairness (as well as the fairness of his wife, Debbie).

If all works out, Jack will be one of my guests on Sunday night’s show on WLS-AM from 8 to 9 (870 AM) along with John Powers, the president of the Chicago Daily Observer. I was particularly impressed that Jack early on became one of the first to spot Rod Blagojevich’s failings and spoke up about them when it was rather unpopular in his party to do so. If I’m not mistaken, Jack may have been the very first…in either party…to discuss the matter of impeachment. Now Jack is disagreeing with a huge majority of his party yet again by supporting a special election for the U. S; senate—when so many of his fellow Democrats are thinking only partisanly: worrying that Republicans just may win the seat and allowing that fact to dictate. These are very good reasons why Jack should run for attorney general of Illinois, a job for which he is uniquely qualified. I’m not saying I endorse him because we disagree on some fundamentals (besides which my endorsement would be a decided handicap for him)…but it is refreshing to see a talented young man reach out for higher state leadership…one who has qualities of character and intelligence which the state sorely needs.

Com’on Mike!

There are times when the laconic, thin-lipped Mike Madigan who gives off that discreet secret smile that says “if-you-only-knew-what-I-know,” is too foxy for his own good. His long delay before marching on to impeachment struck me as a bald attempt to give his dimpled darling daughter adequate media time in her presentation to the Supreme Court—nothing less. Now he’s thinking more as the Democratic state chairman than as Speaker…obviously stonewalling the idea of a special election…for party purposes. And this knack of imitating the squid by inking the waters with blurry substance by charging that Tom Cross was an enabler of Blago…while Madigan himself was Blago’s campaign chairman in 2006…is too much to take. Cross saw correctly the need to govern rather than dispute—something Madigan who is a super-thin-skinned Irishman who cherishes grudges and shamelessly pushes progeny does not.

Maybe if the supine media would stop flirting with him…larding him with salve, telling the world he is the supreme legislative master…and start going after him more aggressively on this…his maestro on image might convince him to act the statesman for once.

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