Tuesday, March 15, 2011

A DAY IN THE LIFE (of Chicago): Will the ideologues someday praise Obama?

I have always suspected that much of the conservative ideologue rhetoric we hear these days reeks of the aroma of elephant droppings, a view that I had confirmed upon learning of possible presidential aspirant Haley Barbour during his appearance Monday in Chicago.
BARBOUR: Will our business execs listen?

The angle being played up by many political observers is that of Barbour going onto President Barack Obama’s home turf and “trash-talking” him – as though that somehow shows the Mississippi governor to have a particularly strong sense of course.

THERE MAY BE some sense of that. Yet the part of Barbour’s talk that caught my attention was his attack on Obama, who supposedly lacks “leadership” skills that past presidents such as Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton possessed.


Sure enough, Barbour included Bill – the man who used to get demonized as the man who was dragging our society straight to Hades and whom they impeached and tried to remove from office – in the litany of people to whom Obama falls short.

“Beginning in 2009, those policies were abandoned,” Barbour said of the fiscal policies of Reagan and Clinton. “In their place, the Obama administration substituted an unlimited faith in limitless government.”

OF COURSE, WHAT Barbour was praising about the Clinton years was William J.’s willingness to incorporate GOP ideas, such as NAFTA, into federal policy. Also, it’s not like any liberal-minded person would ever have thought up “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” except for a willingness to compromise on the issue of gay people serving in the U.S. military – a “compromise” we now see as pointless.

By comparison, Barbour wanted the business types of the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce to think of Obama as an uncompromising ideologue. Just two problems with that lack of logic. One is that if he really were uncompromising, he wouldn’t have the progressive factions so disappointed with him. Also, the business types are going to be more practical-minded. They are the ones who accepted Obama’s former chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, as mayor, and made his election last month the inevitability it ultimately became.

But Obama is here and now, so he gets demonized in ways comparable to the way Clinton used to get trashed by ideologues. Does this mean that some time in the 2020s, another Democratic president will get blasted by the GOP, who will say they long for the  “reasonable” days of Obama?

What else was notable on the shores of the southwesternmost corner of Lake Michigan?

WORKING THEIR WAY DOWN THE POLITICAL APPLICATION PROCESS: State Rep. Anazette Collins, D-Chicago, is now state Sen. Anazette Collins, D-Chicago. Democratic committeemen from the Near West Side promoted her to fill the gap created when Rickey Hendon resigned his seat in the Illinois state Senate.
COLLINS: The new senator

The appointment is a totally conventional one – giving the lower-level official a promotion. But now, it means those committeemen have to fill the gap they created in the Illinois House of Representatives.

So for those people who seriously wanted Scott Lee Cohen to receive a political position, perhaps he’d be interested in serving in the House. Of course, I seem to recall Cohen last year tossing out hints that it was House Speaker Michael Madigan, D-Chicago, who orchestrated the conditions that caused him to voluntarily surrender the Democratic Party’s nomination for lieutenant governor once the sordid details of his divorce and girlfriends became publicly known.

Would Cohen be willing to put himself in a position where he’d have to be subservient to Madigan? Somehow, I suspect we have a better chance of seeing state Rep. Patricia Van Pelt-Watkins, D-Chicago – the mayoral hopeful who also was in the running for the state Senate seat.

DuPAGE DOES RIGHT (AND ONLY) THING: It became official Monday, when prosecutors in DuPage County decided not to seek the death penalty for a man facing murder charges for the deaths of his mother and a sex escort.

Prosecutors had intended to seek capital punishment for Gary Schuning, and admitted in court that the only reason they’re no longer doing so is because Gov. Pat Quinn signed the bill that eliminated the capital crimes statute effective July 1. So the DuPage action acknowledges reality, while sparing Quinn the ordeal of someday having to commute another death sentence to life without the option of parole.

That is the prison term prosecutors will now be seeking when Schuning’s trial begins next month.

And as for those people who persist in saying that eliminating the death penalty will somehow cost the state more money, take the prosecution’s admission that turning this case from a capital case to a mere criminal case will mean less of a jury pool needed, which should mean the trial will proceed faster. If found guilty, it also means Schuning will not be entitled to legal appeals that MUST be considered by a court. That is where the real expense piles up – an expense that will now be a thing of the past in Illinois.


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