Thursday, January 19, 2006

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.

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.
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?

15 Comments:

At January 18, 2006 at 6:19 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I personally want to know Russ's thoughts on the 39th Senate District Primary

 
At January 18, 2006 at 8:27 PM, Blogger Levois said...

Who knows. Blagojevich is rumored to want to be President and he can't even think about it until he can be re-elected governor. If he's trying to be Clintonesque, it isn't working.

 
At January 18, 2006 at 8:49 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am angry at Russ Stewart for using the Who lyrics before I did. Now I am reduced to comparing the Governor's tenure to the 80s metal band the Scorpions. Lots of big hair and bad lyrics as demonstrated in "Rock you like a Hurricane", "Bad Boys Running Wild" and other classics.

Despite the shortcomings of the Scorpions, I still like their act. I can't claim the same towards the Governor.

On a more serious note, I think the Governor's record highlights some disturbing similiarities between his leadership and the mess in D.C.

Irresponsible budgeting? Check. Disregard for laws that constrain his power? Check. Allowed culture of corruption to flourish? Check. Ignore outside counsel? Check. Reckless accusations against those that oppose him? Check.

Back to music, the Governor's attitude is probably best summed up by another Who song, "Anyway, Anyhow, Anywhere". A snippet is below:

I can go anyway, way I choose
I can live anyhow, win or lose
I can go anywhere, for something new
Anyway, anyhow, anywhere I choose

I can do anything, right or wrong
I can talk anyhow, and get along
Don't care anyway, I never lose
Anyway, anyhow, anywhere I choose

Nothing gets in my way
Not even locked doors
Don't follow the lines
That been laid before
I get along anyway I dare
Anyway, anyhow, anywhere

 
At January 18, 2006 at 9:05 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Didn't Clinton fail in his first term as Governor as well?

 
At January 19, 2006 at 9:00 AM, Anonymous lake county lancer said...

But Representative, which of those accomplishments he highlighted do you take issue with? I mean, I read things like Stewart's "same old stuff in Springfield" and just shake my head. Tell a gay person that after decades of GOP "moderate" governors (and a certain powerful Dem Rep whose name starts with an "M") that the state gay rights law is meaningless. I don't know what Fitzgerald might turn up on the Governor, but I've spoken with Senator Susan Garrett and she says passing the reform law early in his term was a huge struggle and wouldn't have happened without him. And how is Judy Baar Topinka "liberal" beyond protecting abortion rights (which, by the way, a 2010 GOP-redistricting could arguably do more to harm than any veto she would cast). Topinka doesn't just oppose the death penalty moritorium, she equated those who supported it with "defending John Wayne Gacy" (and nominated Joel Birkett of Rolando Cruz infamy). Once the Tribune said that would automatically disqualify her from their endorsement, but they reneged on that vow long ago.

Stewart goes on about all the people the governor has alienated and analogizes to Dan Walker and Mike Howlett. Fine but that cuts both ways -- are all of you offended and alienated Dems going to learn from that history? Or do you prefer being out of power for another twenty-five years? In my mind that's a very open question. As John Kaas has said, it often seems like there are two parties in Illinois but not GOP/Dem but establishment and the rest. Come on Representative Fritchey, prove us cynics wrong.

 
At January 19, 2006 at 9:33 AM, Blogger Hon. John Fritchey said...

Lancer,

There is no question that there have been a lot of significant accomplishments over the last three years, and I am proud that they have come under Democratic leadership. I can't speak for Russ, but I will tell you that the feeling that I get from a lot of constituents, and from others around the state, is that a lot of these good deeds are getting drowned out by headlines that are reminiscent of the previous administration.

That is part of my frustration. As Democrats, we have truly made great strides for a lot of the causes that we traditionally champion.

But Illinois is reeling from scandal and allegation of scandal. I saw a clip on the evening national news yesterday talking about the problems in D.C. and they made specific reference to the problems of "Illinois' former and current Governors". Not good.

The Governor said he would 'rock the system' of campaign finance in our state almost a year ago, but is not advancing the bill that he put out. My bill ending pay-to-play in Illinois is stuck in Rules Committee.

I just think that we need to take these issues on if we are going to get people to be able to focus on all of the positives that have been done.

Cynicism is pretty high these days, and needs to be, and can be, addressed. This isn't about being a 'alienated' Dem, this is about having spent almost a decade working on camaign finance and reform issues, having a Governor campaign on those issues, yet still having those same issues dog my party.

I just feel that the ethics issues could do more to take us out of the Executive Mansion than would the lack of a capital bill. I guess we'll see.

 
At January 19, 2006 at 11:37 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The saving grace for the governor is that Russ Stewart is rarely right on predictions, however, as a precinct captain I hear the negativity expressed toward the governor when I go door to door and getting him his signatures was not a pleasurable experience. He forgot the old saying "dance with who brought you" and aliented his old time backers to set up a new power base more greedy and manipulative than Mell ever was.

 
At January 19, 2006 at 4:53 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I do not know Russ Stewart but he must know me because he says he knows what I think and feel.

I am a Downstate Democrat Chairman and I know many downstate Democrat Chairmen and women personaly. Russ says I ,we, are livid about the dearth of state jobs and the Governor has alienated us.

Since I am a Downstate chairmen I think I KNOW how I feel more than some guy that I have never heard of in my life until today.

We Downstate chairmen do not feel alienated and are not livid at all, nothing could be further from the truth. We are supporting Governor Blagojevich 110%. To my knowledge 100 out of 102 Democrat County Chairmen and women have endorsed Governor Blagojevich for re-election.

That does not sound livid to me Mr. Stewart.

By drawing a comparison to Walker Mr. Stewart seems to be saying that he believes that Governor Blagojevich will lose in the primay. I think he is wrong on this point. I predict Blagojevich gets 70% plus of the Democratic Primary vote.

 
At January 19, 2006 at 6:59 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I just feel that the ethics issues could do more to take us out of the Executive Mansion than would the lack of a capital bill.

 
At January 19, 2006 at 8:19 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

6:59, I think that the Rep.'s statement might be a little bit of a stretch but not much. New roads are always nice, but the public seems to have had it with gov't scandals, from Ryan to Abramoff.

 
At January 20, 2006 at 7:36 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Fritchey is anti-Blagojevich. I hope he is at least pro-Eisendrath.

 
At January 21, 2006 at 9:12 AM, Blogger Hon. John Fritchey said...

For the record, I am not anti-Blagojevich. Much of my comments are borne of my desire to see the Democratic party deliver on those agenda items which we claim to have made priorities. Campaign finance reform and gov't ethics are two of those items. School funding reform, in whatever shape it may take, is another one.

A number of the Governor's programs fall directly within the umbrella of delivering what we promised. But they are being clouded by a number of unnecessary issues. That in turn, hurts him, our party, and the perception of government in general. That's my concern.

I have reached out countless times in an effort to assist on numerous issues and have been rebuffed, to say the least. I have zero problem with that, he is the Governor, and he can govern however he sees fit.

But at the same time, I am independently elected, and will serve and speak in the manner that I think best represents first my constituents, as well as the rest of the people of our state.

This is not about any one person, it's about the 12 million who reside in our state. THAT should be our focus.

 
At January 21, 2006 at 3:01 PM, Anonymous Cassandra said...

I still say that Blago desperately wants to get out of state government and onto the national seen...if not VP candidate, a cabinet or subcabinet position.

I don't think all of his Obama-esque rhetoric about saving everybody (what about helping them save themselves) with infusions of taxpayer cash has as much to do with getting Illinois votes as it does with his desire to get a powerful national Dem to take him on as a protege...Hillary comes to mind, but perhaps there are others he is trying to impress. And what
is really important to Hillary? Health care...she flubbed it first time around and wants to undo that.

To be fair, who would want the job
if he could get something bigger and more prestigious. Even if, like Mayor Daley, he manages to hold off or even avoid indictment, there are huge problems in Illinois, and none of the solutions are going to be as easy
as just giving out more taxpayer money. People are going to have to give up stuff. And Blago is not the kind of leader who relishes that kind of leadership test.

All of behavior can be explained by his desire to get out of Illinois asap.

 
At January 21, 2006 at 10:59 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Don't know who to believe here but I have personally talked to 7 county chairmen in the last two days from the deep south and yes they all signed an endorsement months ago, BUT, they are all very upset with the jobs thing. They will not crank out a vote down here for Blago for many reasons. He gets 55% of the vote at best and he may even lose if EdWIN catches fire like many think he can. The anti votes are there, it is just a matter of introducing them to EdWIN. He has a lot of ground to cover in a short period of time but upsets happen in this game. It ain't over till its over!

 
At January 23, 2006 at 10:55 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I wish the previous contributor were correct. I wonder why Democrats can't simply feel free to support Eisendrath as the better choice for governor? We could keep the Democratic principles and priorities, but actually get a competent executive.

 

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