Feast of St. Alphonsus Liguori*
Last night on my talk radio show I decided to take a plebiscite to see how many people are going against the odds and supporting Blago. There are 10 phone lines in the studio and within seconds of my announcing this informal and non-scientific survey, all lines were burning and all the callers were supporting Blago. I couldn’t take all of them but as I read their comments on the screen they took on the same coloration: Nobody proved he stole any money and when compared to those who did in Illinois and national politics he ought to be given a pass. Many of them were plugging for him because of the concerted anti-Blago coverage by the media. Some supported him because they heard him in many venues and felt that while he is a goof he’s not a crook.
Some compared him very favorably with George Ryan whom they particularly despise…Ryan whose corrupt secretary of state operation led to the hideous live barbecue of six innocent kids due to an illegal immigrant truck driver who paid off a tester and got his commercial license although not able to speak much English. Also compared to Dan Rostenkowski. Charlie Rangel was brought up…as well as Daley pals who went to jail rigging employment tests. Blago made out very well compared to all of them. Many longed to see his being freed as a repudiation of Big Arrogant Media. . At least one…believe it or not…plugged for his walking because he believed Daley wants him in jail. Anti-Daley sentiment very-very strong.
Which led me to re-think the all-but-certain conclusion of many pundits that Blagojevich is a goner. It validates his attorney’s advice…particularly Sam Adam, Jr.’s…that his going on talk radio and national TV interview shows wasn’t crazy. Some of the callers cited Patty Blagojevich for “her courage” in going to Costa Rica and eating a dead bug trying to save her husband. I’m not saying I agree with them: I’m saying that in these rather revolutionary times, being socked as hard as Blago has been by the media has developed a “victim” mentality among some of the callers.
I’ll tell you…there’s enough anti-establishment fervor around the that could help Blago by producing at least one wild card in the jury which will let Blago walk.
Channel 2-CBS’s decision to go with Bill Kurtis, 70 and Walter Jacobson, 73, doesn’t thrill me as a regular viewer of the 6 p.m. news. When they started off, they had a fresh show. I particularly liked Rob Johnson doing a solo as anchor. I like also the fresh, warm, folksy anchoring on occasion of Ann State. She had an intelligent not breathless style. Not long ago she was fired because, purportedly, she wasn’t familiar with Chicago. So they hired in her stead a Kate Sullivan whose nearest touch with Chicago was when she went to Notre Dame at South Bend.
In just a matter of the past few weeks this lamentably confused station has plucked a female favorite co-anchor off and sent her to limbo and has arranged it so my favorite male anchor will have to share duties with someone else when I want him to anchor alone which he does superbly.
I’ll tell you, the dizzying shakeup of faces at 2 has turned me off and I’ll go to either 5 or 7 from now on. My kick with the return of Bill Kurtis and Walter Jacobson isn’t their ages (how could somebody who’s 82 complain when fellow oldsters get work?) but the utter predictability of Jacobson’s Perspectives which are tired old-liberal circa IVI from the `60s, no depth, no insight, hackneyed. The `60s marketing…the originator of the original duo told me when he lectured at my Northwestern class…was a bright young establishmentarian Brahmin “teamed with a gritty, liberal Jew.” By “gritty” he meant somebody who couldn’t get a membership in the Chicago Club aka the Van Buren street Y and is angry about it.
It worked then. Won’t work now. Times have changed.
That was then, not now and it’s dated. Many Jews are CEOs, big in law, not gritty, or grumbling about discrimination. TV commentary now are not stereotypically “gritty” or liberal: Charles Krauthammer…Bill Kristol….Chris Wallace…Mara Liasson (a centrist) et al. Understand Jews voted heavily for Obama and will probably give a majority of their votes to him again, but the media firmament is replete with those who are not gritty or liberal. Meaning that Walter’s a cliché. Kurtis the Anglo-Saxon moderate is a cliché. The Kurtis-Jacobson thing isn’t that they’re old, they’re a cliché. GET ME, CBS? If you want to serve up something fresh, line up Kurtis with a youngish conservative Jew, someone like Congressman Kantor of Virginia (a Jew with a southern accent). Or if you want to still present a Jew as liberal, for God’s sake do it right and get Don Rose who writes for The Chicago Daily Observer who’s in his late 70s and who far surpasses Jacobson in port-side ideology, knowledge, Chicago expertise and smarts. He’s bound to excite some and alienate the hell out of some. That’s the way to go…not cliché-ridden Walter Jacobson.
Now the old Jacobson face has been obviously tightened up with sagging flesh pulled up behind his ears so that he’s wrinkle-free as a product of face-lift could be. But his commentaries are as predictable as Carol Marin’s much-dated insights. There I’ve said it all and have outraged many I am sure.
Corporate turn-around strategist and near billionaire Bill Brandt responded to me the other day at The Chicago Daily Observer. For a taste get over there atwww.cdobs.com . The Observer carried my story from here condemning Loyola University for blocking Karl Rove as a guest speaker because it was allegedly trying to protect it’s 501© (3) if you can believe such a thing. Rove isn’t a candidate, is a columnist for The Wall Street Journal and a commentator for Fox News. I said it was nothing more than a replay of the old liberal fascism spiel where academe belongs to the Left and the Right is out-of-bounds.
Then I listed some of the prominent Democrats on the board including Brandt who hosted both Bill Clinton and Barack Obama fund-raisers at his suburban ménage. Brandt answered me and halfway hinted he’s not a total Democrat because he married a former Percy press aide. Hey, Bill, I knew Patrice long before you did when she was going out with a pal of mine. She was never really a Republican—nor for that matter was Percy.
The long and short of it is that Bill never responded. He’s a trustee of the University. He has the right to question the stupid ban on Rove. He fudged the question and said that as a trustee he never heard that Rove was banned. Not a word about doing anything about it. Well, actually, maybe it’s time for Bill to admit that he is there only as a cash cow and funnel for dough, the post of trustee is a cynical dodge and he and his colleagues have nothing to say anyhow.
In which case if I were Bill, I’d get the hell out of there. If he can’t deliver even this, what does he want to spew out cash for as a eunuch? A figurehead? A ceremonial? A potted plant? Or does he think Rove is a danger to the University’s 501© (3) in the manner that Howard Dean, Dem presidential candidate and chairman of the Democratic National Committee was not?
And hey, that smart aleck crack about “chasing commies” at the end of your response really wasn’t worthy of you. You may get away with that stuff with your corporate lackeys my good man but it was sophomoric. Now will you try to do something about Loyola or will you admit you’re really powerless and a Big Money Trophy?
*: St. Alphonsus Liguori [1696-1787]. The founder of the Redemptorist Order, he was the son of a Neapolitan nobleman and his wife, studied law and practiced it with considerable success. The turning point was his losing a very tough case. He made a goof that every lawyer dreads. He make a brilliant summary argument for his client but the opposing lawyer leaned over and told him: “You have wasted your breath. You have ignored this” and he handed him a document Alphonsus had read several times but alas the portion underlined was one he skimmed over. He lost the case and was humiliated. He became saddened, then depressed, then despondent and decided to chuck the law and do something else (no one else figured he was a failure but they couldn’t convince him of that). He studied theology, was ordained a priest and became famous as a preacher in and around Naples.
In 1732 he founded an Order which he called the Congregation of the Holy Redeemer for priests who wished to teach religion among the rural poor. But his habit of skimming documents struck him again. He had signed a document which he had not read fully which disqualified him from running the Order because it contained a phrase which invalidated his leadership due to a rupture between Church and State. He and a number of his associates put it all back together again but that was the nature of Alphonsus.
Then he began writing theological tracts which contained no error and which were priceless expositions of theology. His most important work was “Moral Theology” which made his reputation. He was named bishop of Sant’ Agatha dei Goti but kept on writing, compiling a total of 36 treatises on theology. At length he decided to retire as bishop in 1775 pleading ill health but he lived another 12 years. He was canonized in 1839 and was declared a Doctor of the Church.