Monday, April 13, 2009

Personal Asides: 3 Thoughts While Shaving. And a Resurrection Painting to Mark the Day.


1: Rich Miller’s Engrossing Interview with Mike Madigan.

Rich Miller conducted a very interesting and historic…to my mind…2005 interview with Speaker Madigan which he has just recycled. The take on the interview is mine, not his—but it answers at least one very important question that has bothered me about recent Illinois political history.

The question is why the Democratic leaders did not run a primary challenger against Rod Blagojevich after his disastrous first term…but instead…the two Madigans and Rich Daley…signed on as leaders of his reelection.

Madigan answers this by saying he was involved in a Democratic putsch one and it ushered in 20 years of Democratic rule. He said anything is preferable to a Republican…ugh!...winning the governorship. He’s referring to Gov. Dan Walker who was a thorn in Old Man Daley’s side. Madigan was then Daley’s point man in the House. They ran Mike Howlett against Walker and beat him. But Jim Thompson won the governorship which started, in Madigan’s eyes, 26 years of terrible regime of Republican rule. He says he learned that “lesson.” So from that “lesson,” it is safe to say that Madigan concludes the worst possible Democratic governor should not be challenged in a primary because as bad as he is…a thief, liar, a prospective seller of a Senate seat to the highest bidder…it is better he survive rather than to challenge him in a primary and run the risk of electing a…gasp!... Republican. Electing corrupt Democrats are better than non-corrupt Republicans.

With this in mind, it is stunning that the Republicans have been carrying the cross for electing George Ryan and no Democrats have apparently paid the price for sitting still when Blago rifled the state. The media, of course, shamelessly pro-Democratic, are partially responsible for this. Two points:

First, Walker was a egocentric showboat but not a rotten governor in the league of Blago. He went to jail for crimes he committed after his governorship, not during it.

Second, what never came up is what’s best for the people of Illinois. The worst you could say about Dan Walker was that he was a demagogue (his going to jail came later and was unrelated to his governorship) who based much of his career opposing Old Man Daley. There is no doubt that Walker was a media showboat but also an honorable man as governor. Whereas the contrast with Blago is as night and day. The years we spent under Blago, the attrition and build-up of debt, the laughingstock this state has become…all of that is preferable to taking a risk of dumping him in a primary because horrors…a Republican might win!

Madigan’s view is as unalloyed as the old Irish Democratic and as benighted as that of my Irish immigrant great-grand-uncle, a hod carrier with no education who reflected the bitter immigrant-based Democratic fealty that Republicans are “eeeevil.” It is the ultra-partisanship that Finley Peter Dunne satirized in “Mr. Dooley.” I thought all this time “Mr. Dooley” was a relic. Not so. I had always suspected that lurking within Madigan was a relatively sophisticated politician. Not so. What’s lurking inside Mike Madigan…a tightly wound-up little man who eats his lunch of an apple every day at Noon… is the same bigoted, immigrant Irish soul of my immigrant great-grand uncle the illiterate hod carrier.

And to have it come publicly from the Speaker of the House is stunning. Believe me I have known partisans in my time…in both parties…but no one with the obvious spoken unconcern for the well-being of government as Madigan has shown in the interview. His view apparently carried among other leaders of the Democratic party—Daley who signed on for Blago’s reelection, Lisa Madigan who also signed on and Pat Quinn who once again, not sickened by Blago, volunteered to run with him. They were all a pack of co-conspirators in refusing to tackle Blago frontally, refusing to encourage a primary opponent to him. And now to see them benefit as the so-called “reformers” of the system…touted as such by the supine Illinois press…is disgraceful. That photo of Pat Quinn gripping the olive-skinned Lisa by her slender shoulders and she unable to manage even an unconvincing smile shows the frozen-visaged die-hard view of her stepfather.

If one were to carry this further, it would mean that Madigan will oppose his step-daughter running against Pat Quinn…lest a dreaded Republican win in the general . But here Madigan, Sr., ruled by one example that occurred in 1976, may not be able to call all the shots. The one who does want Lisa to run in 2010 is her natural mother—Shirley. If she’s only normal, she’s like to have a depth that exceeds her husband’s shanty Irish Democratic chauvinism circa 1896 …which would come to the fore if she only thought about issues for a short time as a human being.

2. Notre Dame’s New Law School Dean.

Notre Dame has hired a new law dean and to no one’s surprise he had max’ed out to Barack Obama in the last campaign. Again letters will flow to the hapless Fr. John Jenkins but it is imperative for people to understand that Jenkins and all modern university presidents are mere ornaments with little if any say in how the universities are run. Jenkins’ job is to assuage the contributors, massage the alumni, go after the bucks from potential donors. The university runs on liberal auto-pilot.

All this began at the infamous Land `o’ Lakes Conference of Catholic educators in 1967 led by then Notre Dame President Fr. Theodore Hesburgh who said that Catholic education should be severed from control by the Church in the spirit of so-called “free inquiry”—but which did several things that decimated Catholic education…starting the ball rolling to giving faculties hiring control which means that the religious orders had no say anymore in the theology or philosophy departments…ridding the boards of trustees of people who had religious convictions, getting them replaced by ignorant George Babbitt-like fat cats and secular pols…launching the drive toward all colleges seeking “prestige” which means the embracing and hiring of sometimes bitterly anti-Catholic professors. Hesburgh did the job so thoroughly that conceivably there is no way to change the scope of the universities. Good job, Father Ted.

Hesburgh is now blind and deaf at the age of 92. He is not and never was great…a relativist and political player glowing in his role as a liberal celebrity. He has a lot of reflecting to do on a lifetime that…replete with academic honors…did more harm to the concept of “Catholic” education than anything Henry VIII achieved by raking the coals for dissenting believers of the Catholic faith at Oxford or Cambridge. What Notre Dame is now…what DePaul and Loyola, Georgetown and the others are now…is a legacy to him.

3. The Conscience Clause.

Just as the FOCA bill died a good death in the state House and repealing the “conscience clause” with it, the issue is front and center nationally. For one thing, President Obama has not decided officially as of yet to repeal the “conscience clause.” And what is it? It is the same clause that was contained in the Illinois statute but is a proposed federal regulation which would force physicians and care providers from exercising the option to use their conscience on issues of human reproduction…i.e. abortion.

Yes, there are laws on the books that date back to the 1970s which cover doctors, nurses and other health care professionals who do not want to participate in abortions…although to be sure, a federal regulation is always looked upon as the superseding one. The Left is hotly for rescinding it; the Right is for retaining it. But as Charles Krauthammer has suggested, suppose a pill was developed that reversed homosexuality. There would be pharmacists who could say I refuse to prescribe it because it is a chosen way of life, not a disease. The Left would be for the “conscience clause” in that case and the Right against it. Abortion is still the most toxic issue in the United States.

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