Thursday, June 24, 2004

Dated June 24, 1:00 am

Gut Check time for Jack Ryan:

Well boys and girls, the liberalstream media is mounting a full court press to get one of their boys or girls installed as the U. S. Senate candidate. They were saddened that they had no real so called “moderate,” to their liking, in the March primary. Yes, there was semi-Pro Choice General Borling, but he was not so good on gun control or even gay rights, and was not a serious candidate. So, the “moderates,” sat the Senate race out. Judy Baar, Jim Edgar, Ron Gidwitz and Corinne Wood were virtually absent. Why would they care whether the winner was Ryan, Oberweis, McKenna or Rauschenberger? Not a pro-choicer, pro gay rightser, pro gun controller candidate among them. Judy Baar may say she is off the charts [meaning quite conservative] on economic issues, but most true R conservatives, e.g., supply siders, not Warren Rudman types, remain unconvinced. Same with Jim, Ron and Corinne—Indeed, they don’t even go as far, in talk, as JBT on economic issues.

Interestingly, JBT, Jim, Ron and Corinne are all mentioned in Wednesday’s Sun-Times as 4 of the 6 possibilities to replace Jack. The Sun-Times article notes that conservatives “can’t stand,” Corinne and no one knows who Ron is, but neglects to note that conservatives do not hold Edgar or Judy in any higher esteem than Corinne. Indeed, I know some who would prefer Corinne to Edgar or Judy.

The Sun-Times couldn’t give a ---- --- who won in the R primary. Sure, they endorsed Jack in the R primary, but we knew they would go with Obama in the General. Perhaps this was a bone for the conservative Huntley on the Editorial Board, but I don’t know if Steve cared about Jack. The Tribune endorsed State senator Rauschenberger but that was more about slapping Jack down than promoting Senator Rauschenberger. I don’t know about the various other papers through-out the state who have jumped on the “Jack down hill slide,” to say that none have any influence, but I would guess that none are “make or break” for Jack to win in November.

The Sun-Times headline has gone already from above the fold “Ryan pushing sex clubs,” to “Ryan digs in.” By tomorrow, the Sun-Times could return to Sex among gerbils, or whatever. The Tribune went from yesterday’s above the fold sex clubs to GOP leaders “felt misled on Ryan file.” Well, Ms. Lipinski, I think “GOP leaders feeling misled,” may not do what you are apparently trying to accomplish, i.e., scare Jack out of the race. Yes, the Trib had some moralisms about their argument that Ryan was not honest about what the sealed records contained and now he has “deeply alienated many of the state’s GOP leaders, who will probably make a decision by the end of the week on whether they will demand that he quit the race… they can certainly turn his race into a lost cause by abandoning him.”

Say what? They can certainly turn his race into a lost cause by abandoning him. Well, they would like Jack to think that, but I don’t think so.

At the Cook County GOP fundraiser tonight, I spoke with a Republican elected official who has dined well at the Tribune endorsement table and he told me Bruce Dold, Tribune editorial page editor, was a “stand up,” guy. So, I inquired, just who has Bruce stood up to? No answer. Really, no answer. I mean, who has Bruce stood up to. George Ryan? I don’t think so. In the 1998 election, the Tribune gave him a pass and even after his corruption rife administration was obvious to the Tribune, they had a soft spot for George because of his “evolution,” on the social and economic issues and on Capital Punishment.

In 2002, when the Tribune should have been able to write about the Daley administration corruption allegations that have popped up in the last few weeks and months ago, they did not. As a consequence, Daley faced no credible opposition candidates in 2003. So, the Tribune raises allegations about the Daley administration in 2004 when it is too late or too early to affect Daley’s election prospects.

Even the Tribune’s own columnist Eric Zorn has discussed the lameness of the Tribune essentially “endorsing,” former Chicago Teacher Union President Deborah Lynch after she lost last week. Gee, Bruce, timing is not just important in politics. It is also important in endorsements and reporting. Best to do them before the election for maximum impact.

Bruce Dold? A stand-up guy? Well, we asked Bruce Dold to sit down with us and answer some of our questions on “Public Affairs,” as have more than 300 guests, from U. S. Senators to Congressman to gubernatorial candidates to state legislators to media personalities. Bruce begged off, saying the North Shore was too far for him to travel to appear on our show. Gee, I wonder if he tells Tribune Publisher Scott Smith that when Scott invites Bruce to a party at his home on the North Shore. And, Bruce made it to WTTW on Wednesday night, as he does with some frequency. Hmmm. Could it be that Bruce prefers the non-follow-up questions like the one he got last night on WTTW on how the Tribune filed the motion to unseal because he did not know what was in the records and the whole judicial system rests, apparently, on making sure Jack’s record did not stay sealed.

Bruce Dold, a stand-up guy? Well, we’ll see if we ever get him to sit down with us. However, I won’t hold my breath.

Former State Senator and Gubernatorial Candidate Patrick O’Malley was at the GOP fundraiser last night and told me that Jack Ryan could survive this if he has the guts to stand up to the above referenced folks. Pat pointed out that Jack could self-finance. Cook County Board Member Tony Peraica, who was a D before he became an R, was there tonight and he essentially said the same thing as Pat O’Malley.

One would think Jack Ryan would have the guts to stand up to Illinois GOP leaders Edgar, Topinka, Cross, Watson, Dilliard and Ray Lahood. Am I leaving any “Leaders,” out. Let’s see, Edgar has not won an election since 1994 and no conservatives who I know think he could win a Republican Primary in 2004. We are told he did not run in 1998 or 2004 because of the MSI scandal and his heart and he wanted to make some money and relax. What has changed to make him a party leader now. Polls that say he is popular? So is everybody’s grandpa. That is because nobody really thinks grandpa will run.

Topinka also could not win a Republican Primary for Governor or Senator. For those positions, unlike Treasurer, people want to know her views on social issues, domestic economic policy, foreign policy, etc. We have invited her on our show to discuss these items in her role at State GOP Chair. Although she appeared twice a few years ago as Treasurer, she has not “had time,” to discuss these issues with us.
A party leader? I don’t think so.

Cross and Watson? Unlike Topinka and Edgar, these folks are Leaders, but like Topinka and Edgar, they bring no money or votes to Jack, so they can’t really abandon him.

Dilliard, a party leader? Cutting deals with Ds to break the R caucus? This guy is going to lecture Jack? I don’t think so.

Ray Lahood. As Senator Fitzgerald said, Ray who?

So, there you are folks. When the Tribune threatens that the Illinois Party Leaders could abandon Jack—hard to see why that would worry him or anyone else. With respect to those leaders, there is no there there.

Therefore, as to the Edit Board and Illinois GOP threats to Jack, as FDR said, the only thing Jack has to fear is fear itself. And, I don’t see anyone out there, including the Party Leaders, who has a better chance of winning the U.S. Senate Race, sex clubs and all, than Jack does.

That could be why Senators Fitzgerald, Frist and Allen, who have the most to gain by keeping the Illinois seat Republican, say they are still backing Jack. The Trib, Sun-Times and so called State Party Leaders, who are playing their power games about punishing people who budged in line, are not really focused on keeping the Senate Seat. Rather, it appears that these folks are trying to hang on to their old establishment power when they should be trying to get a grip on reality. Kind of reminds me of Old Europe. So, which of the party leaders most resembles Chirac?

Jeff Berkowitz, host and producer of “Public Affairs,” can be reached at