Monday, November 1, 2010

Is it premature to look beyond Tuesday?

I understand the logic of being prepared for any possible outcome. Yet with the upcoming general elections being as unpredictable as they are, I can’t help but think anyone who is focusing attention on anything beyond Tuesday is setting themselves up for embarrassment.

DURBIN: Leader?
That was the gut feeling I felt upon reading a pair of stories that got some play this past weekend – one related to the governor’s election and the other to the U.S. Senate.

FOR IT SEEMS that Sen. Richard Durbin, D-Ill., is taking some steps to prepare for the possibility that a majority of Nevada voters will be twisted enough to think that Sharron Angle is fit to serve in Washington.

If Harry Reid really loses his bid for re-election to his seat in the Senate, there’s no way he could remain leader of the Democratic Party caucus. Which means that Durbin could be in line to become the Democrats’ leader.

It also means that if Democrats don’t lose control of the Senate after Tuesday’s elections, it would create the possibility of “Senate Majority Leader Richard Durbin, D-Ill.” It also would be only the second time that an Illinoisan (Scott Lucas of Chandlersville, 1949-51) worked his way up to the Senate’s top post.

I know some people of a certain partisan ideology are gagging at the mere thought of the Springfield resident (and East St. Louis native) being in charge of the U.S. Senate. Although I must admit their mental misery is enough for me to want Durbin to someday get the post, similar to how the thought of “Mayor Rahm Emanuel” would make me happy because of the people who would be ticked off by the concept.

I JUST THINK it is premature to think about the thought of Durbin getting a promotion, and not just because of the factors the Chicago Tribune reported on this weekend because of the fact that Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., also has dreams of becoming the Senate’s leader.

REID: Getting out of Dick's Way?
It’s just that I can’t help but think that if the political climate really is such that Reid does lose to Angle, it is because of circumstances beyond anyone’s control that likely will result in significant-enough losses for Democratic Party officials.

In short, if Reid loses, it probably will be a part of an overall loss that would shift control of the U.S. Senate to the Republican Party. Which means that I believe it is more likely we could get “Senate Minority Leader Richard Durbin, D-Ill.,” than majority leader.

That is, if Reid doesn’t just narrowly eke out a victory in Tuesday’s elections against the Republican ideologues across the nation who are so desperate for a partisan victory that they are willing to prop up a clearly-unqualified goof of a candidate like Angle.

THE JOKE ABOUT partisanship is to say that someone is “So Republican” that they would “vote for Hitler if the GOP nominated him.” I’d say we’re going to be able to look at the percentage of Nevada voters who actually cast ballots for Angle and figure out how many people are that wedded to the Republican Party – regardless of the lack of qualifications put forth by their candidate.

Yet at least with the idea of pondering about Dick Durbin’s chances of becoming the Senate’s leader has some bearing in reality. He could get the post if a set of circumstances works out. The rhetoric we got this weekend from Republican gubernatorial nominee William Brady was pure partisan drivel.

Brady used an appearance in Springfield on Saturday to say that when he is elected governor, there are at least 300 people on the state payroll with political loyalties to now-impeached Gov. Rod Blagojevich who will be dismissed.

It’s a cheap attempt to drag the “Blagojevich” monicker into the campaign, rather than rely on campaigning against his actual opponent – Gov. Pat Quinn.

PERSONALLY, I WOULD expect the bulk of those 300 to be partisan enough that they will quit before Brady could get around to firing them. So while I fully concede there are certain positions within state government to which Brady would have every right to replace at will, I don’t like the way Brady is trying to make it sound  like his actions – should he win in Tuesday’s elections – are somehow a particularly harsh action meant to benefit government.

BRADY: You're all fired!
As Brady put it, “they will all be let go. They will have the right to come back and reapply for a job, but we’re going to ask for their resignations.” That statement could come from the mouth of anyone who gets elected to a political post.

That is what happens whenever there is a transition. Even Quinn dumped some people from their political posts when he took over for Blagojevich in mid-administration. Brady’s behavior wouldn’t be any different.

For that matter, I wouldn’t be surprised to see some people currently on the state government payroll lose their jobs even if Quinn is successful in winning a gubernatorial term of his own.

BEFORE, IT COULD be argued that since he was coming into office in mid-term, he had an obligation to maintain as much stability as possible. Now that he could be getting his own term, he could finally start doing things more to his own liking.

So the idea that Brady would represent a significant overhaul of the state payroll out of a sense of good government is nothing but garbage. It will all be about partisan politics and having people in top posts who will be inclined to want their big boss to succeed.

There also is one other factor to consider. I seem to recall that Blagojevich back in 2002 engaged in the same type of rhetoric that Brady is giving us now, and he tried to fire several people because their political loyalties were to Republicans and former Gov. George Ryan. Many of them filed lawsuits and wound up winning back either their employment or significant financial compensation to make up for the fact that Milorod tried to dump them out of a self-righteous attempt to make himself look tough.

Perhaps not repeating that mistake could be a lesson that Brady ought to learn from Blagojevich.


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