Phony headlines, or phony political praise?
That's what we're seeing these days in the political duel taking place between Gov. Pat Quinn and the venture capitalist using the Republican label to try to send him into unemployment.
I'M STILL TRYING to figure out which story related to the gubernatorial campaign is more lame -- the pseudo-support Quinn got from first lady Michelle Obama, or the pseudo headlines appearing in campaign spots promoting Quinn challenger Bruce Rauner.
On the surface, the fact that the first lady is speaking out publicly in favor of Quinn ought to be a plus. There are many public officials these days bearing the "Democrat" label who, if I promise them "off-the-record" status, will eagerly make all kinds of snotty comments about Quinn and how worthless they believe he is.
It is that kind of attitude that Rauner is hoping to play into -- a Democratic Party apathy that will cause many of their backers to stay home on Nov. 4.
That could make the rural Illinois/business executive coalition large enough to actually win an election in a state where a Republican candidate with no political experience like Rauner ought to be dead meat.
MICHELLE OBAMA USED a campaign event this week to urge people to make sizable donations to the Democratic Party's candidates and to turn out for Quinn in Illinois.
"We need to do everything in our power to get him over the finish line," she said. Which in a sense is true for Obama, whose influence would wind up being diminished if his own home state picks the opposition political party for its new leader.
But how many people really listen to federal officials when it comes to these elections? It comes down to the old Tip O'Neill saying, "All politics are local."
Besides, I still remember back in 2010 when President Barack Obama himself made a point of campaigning in Illinois to benefit the local Dems running for Congress.
MOST OF THEM wound up being defeated. Tea Party-types beat up on them -- such as the case of someone like Debbie Halvorson; the one-time state senator who wound up getting one two-year term in Congress before becoming a political has-been.
She got swept in by the Obama-love movement of 2008, then brushed out again in 2010 by the Obama-is-a-Muslim/terrorist/Communist/whatever other slur they can think of types in our society.
She wasn't alone.
Quinn won that year, but that was more because Republican opponent William Brady came across as so blatantly rural and hostile to Chicago interests that Chicago voters turned out en masse.
RAUNER ISN'T GOING to make that same mistake just over three months from now.
President Obama had little to do with Quinn's victory in 2010. I doubt the first lady will have much influence in turning out votes for the governor in November.
People who think she will be just don't seem to get it.
Although they're not as ridiculous as the Rauner camp seems to be these days with their new campaign attack ad that features newspaper "headlines" that, the Chicago Tribune figured out, never actually appeared in any newspapers.
THEY WANT THE credibility that the printed word conveys with its sense of permanence (at least compared to the Internet where things perpetually disappear, only to reappear when least desired). But they want their own take on these alleged headline facts.
Quinn aides are attacking Rauner, who's trying to claim that they're disseminating accurate information. They want Quinn to "Shut Up" and take the blows they wish to dish out to him.
But what amuses me about this line of defense is that a similar controversy came up in 2004 when documentary filmmaker Michael Moore got hit with the same accusation for "Fahrenheit 9/11."
His movie came up with "headlines" that showed negative news coverage of then-President George W. Bush. Except that one of the headlines that supposedly appeared in the Bloomington Pantagraph newspaper was actually a headline that appeared on someone's "Letter to the Editor," rather than on an actual story of fact.
THE IDEOLOGUES WHO like to trash people still demonize Moore for "making up" facts to bolster his film.
But I'm sure these same people will eagerly defend Rauner -- whose defense sounds remarkably the same as what Moore offered up.
Which makes the whole thing such a line of bunk -- yet another phony controversy to go along with a not-so-legitimate endorsement from the White House.
Although I'm sure the people who want to believe it all also lapped up every single word spewed during Rauner's campaign appearance with New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie. Any new traffic jam jokes?