Does He Remind You of Somebody?
In the Governor's State of the State address, one of the main themes was a compare and contrast between Washington D.C. and Illinois. And he effectively used it to highlight a number of the accomplishments of his administration. I found it to be very Clintonesque in it's approach of building up a foil to demagogue against.
Later on in the day, I read the latest article by Chicago attorney and political analyst Russ Stewart about the Governor's re-election prospects. Russ draws a comparison between the Governor and another elected official - Dan Walker. And without taking any positions on what he wrote, I think that there is some real interesting stuff in there. Below is one excerpt for your pondering.
A 1970's song by The Who, entitled “Don’t Get Fooled Again,” contained the verse “Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.” Illinois’ new governor has a lot more hair than the old governor, and undoubtedly has more personal integrity, but three years into the Blagojevich Administration, it’s still the Same Old Stuff in Springfield.I guess I just thought that my take on the Governor's speech as trying to sound like Clinton and Russ' take that a comparison with Walker may be more appropriate made for some interesting material. Thoughts anyone?
A politician can survive in a hostile environment if he has built a loyal and cohesive base of support. The 2002 environment was tainted by the scandals of Ryan. Republicans had controlled the governorship for 26 years, and Blagojevich promised change. That was the message many independent voters, and some Republicans, wanted to hear. But Blagojevich’s vote was anchored by a coalition of Organized Labor, minorities, liberals, abortion supporters, gays, trial lawyers, Downstate county Democratic chairmen seeking state patronage, and white Democratic Chicago ward committeemen who took Mell’s word that The Kid would “do well” as governor. Even with that firepower, Blagojevich managed to win by only 252,080 votes.
Blagojevich, the calculating opportunist, has since rent that coalition asunder. He alienated the trial lawyers by refusing to veto a tort reform bill with non-economic caps. He alienated the teachers (Illinois Federation of Teachers and Illinois Education Assn.) and state government workers (AFSCME) with his pension raid; thus far, only the AFL-CIO and Service Employees International Union have endorsed the governor. He alienated Mell and his Chicago colleagues; they worked hard for him in 2002, but will ignore him in 2006. He alienated Downstate chairmen, who are livid about the dearth of state jobs. Mayor Rich Daley’s political operation is in shambles, and he is in no position to aid the governor. Blagojevich’s feminist base is in jeopardy: If Republicans nominate Judy Baar Topinka, a lot of liberal women will vote to make her Illinois’ first woman governor. And even liberals and independents, if they begin to tire of the Same Old Stuff in Springfield, may abandon him.
The governor has spent his first term making enemies in order to make headlines, much as did the state’s last Democratic governor, Dan Walker. In 1972, Walker ran as the candidate of “change,” and beat Paul Simon in the primary by 735,193-694,900, a margin of 40,293 votes. He then spent four years warring with every vested interest, expecting that voters would perceive him as an independent-minded reformer, and then triumphantly re-elect him in 1976. But Watergate and rampant corruption in Chicago changed the environment. Mayor Richard J. Daley’s administration was rocked by scandal, but Daley enticed then-Secretary of State Mike Howlett to run against Walker in the primary, and Howlett won 811,721-696,380, a margin of 115,341 votes. Walker carried Downstate and the collar counties by 113,434 votes, but lost Chicago by 202,292, and the suburbs by 26,483. In the ensuing election, with Democrats divided, Republican Jim Thompson, the former U.S. Attorney, pulverized Howlett by a margin of 1,390,137 votes.
Thirty years later, it’s almost déjà vu all over. Venality, greed and avarice are equally epidemic.