I will give the Illinois Republican Party a little bit of credit. The political entity that likes to flood my e-mail inbox with all kinds of pot shots at the Democratic Party’s ticket (which, after all, is what a political party is for) came up with one on Tuesday that caught my attention.
Specifically, we get to see the resume for Alexi Giannoulias. Not his actual resume, but the one that GOP political hacks put together for him – in short, the way they want us to perceive him through their eyes, rather than honestly through our own.
IT IS ALL part of the strategy to make people so wary of the one-term Illinois treasurer who wants to be Mr. Smith and go to Washington that they will feel better about voting for the guy who has been a part of the Washington scene for a decade (admittedly, in the House of Representatives) – even though the “theme” of this election cycle is that we hate anything tied to Washington or incumbency.
In theory, it ought to be Kirk, the congressman from the North Shore suburbs, who should be struggling with the faulty public perception. Instead, we’re getting whacked-out images of both of the major party candidates – enough that a part of me wants to check out LeAlan M. Jones, the Green Party candidate.
Then, I remember the kind of impractical and unknowing people that tend to get excited about the Green Party, and I come to my senses.
Hence, we get the GOP “resume” for Giannoulias that says his objective is to be, “the first failed banker to serve on the U.S. Senate Banking Committee.” Cute. Get the one-time family-owned bank on Broadway that is now a branch of MB Financial Bank into the mix.
AS THOUGH OUR Congress has never had members who failed in life outside of Capitol Hill. I doubt it. Heck, if Republicans really want to complain about resumes, they ought to look at the inflated one that their party’s nominee for lieutenant governor used during the primary election season.
Actually, the part of their Giannoulias “resume” that bothers me the most is the reference to the fact that Giannoulias as state treasurer actually managed to resolve a problem that had been lingering for decades.
The one-time President Lincoln hotel in downtown Springfield had fallen into the control of the state because its original developers never could bring in enough proceeds to repay the loans they received with state help to build the project (which was intended to be a luxury hotel in the Illinois capital city) in the first place.
As what often happens when you get stuck in a situation like this, you take whatever you can get so long as someone is paying cash up front.
AS THE GIANNOULIAS “resume” tells us, he sold the facility for less than half of its appraised value that “lock(ed) in an $18 million loss” for our state’s taxpayers.
The problem with viewing the issue in that mini-minded manner is that it is unrealistic. No one was ever going to get full value. The people who ought to get “blame” for this issue are the ones who made the loans in the first place.
Of course, those people happened to be Republican allies, since the governor back then was James R. Thompson and there once was a time when Republicans weren’t completely irrelevant in state government (mainly because they didn’t play the partisan politics as intensely as they try to now).
I can remember when then-Illinois Treasurer Judy Baar Topinka tried to sell off the hotel properties in the early 1990s for about one-quarter of what they were worth, and I can remember the Republican Party establishment coming to her defense as trying to make the best of what was a sloppy deal for the state -- with those people trying to score political points for themselves at Topinka's expense being the ones who criticized her.
THEN AGAIN, JUDY has the “R” following her name. So trying to do the same type of action that Giannoulias ultimately accomplished did not get her the same type of trashing. Of course, the fact that Topinka can think sensibly is likely the reason she will do well in her bid for state Comptroller against Democratic nominee David Miller.
Other “points” brought up on the Giannoulias resume include the “Bright Start” college savings plan that turned into a financial mess, and where some people who used the program to save money to pay for their childrens’ future college tuition wound up losing funds – and where we learn that the Illinois treasurer’s office purchased a Sport Utility Vehicle with Bright Start funds.
Then, there also is the trivial. Giannoulias played basketball professionally for one season after graduating from Boston University (not the NBA, the professional leagues in Greece). Usually, anything that can be seen as an athletic accomplishment is touted as reason for praise if it is a Republican official.
Only when it is a Democrat does it come off as trivial in the minds of Republicans.
NOW IT SHOULD not be assumed that I am writing that Giannoulias is above reproach. He has things he has to answer for during this campaign season, and we should be nit-picking him if he does not come clean in his answers.
A problem develops when people become more interested in making attacks on a candidate, rather than trying to find out something resembling the truth. That is when we quit listening because we’re only interested in hearing ourselves.
I have often told people that everything that comes from a political campaign, regardless of its partisan leanings, ought to be scrutinized because there likely are strong elements of exaggeration in it.
This “resume” definitely falls into that category.