Tuesday, June 22, 2004

Updated June 22, 2004 at 2:30 am

Apparently Eric Zorn has concluded Jack Ryan will drop out of the race, and then we will have a real race between Barack Obama and who- why Jim Edgar, of course, the darling of the liberalstream media in Illinois.

Zorn, in his blog (www.chicagotribune.com/notebook) asks:

Would Edgar accept a draft?

--In May of last year he formally declared he wouldn't run for the Senate seat being vacated by incumbent Republican Peter Fitzgerald, saying his "heart wasn't in" serving in the Senate.

--Our [Zorn's] story then said:
Edgar said he came to his decision for a "variety of personal reasons," including his new career of teaching at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, work at a public affairs firm and serving as a director on several corporate boards. He said his elective career was "a long time to kind of be in the fishbowl," but he disputed as a factor possible attempts to link him to former Gov. George Ryan's scandal-tinged tenure as secretary of state....

--Edgar said he would not rule out a future bid for office but said he had no plans to run again. Conventional wisdom at the time was that Edgar, now 57 and heading up the Bush campaign in Illinois, simply didn't have the appetite for an 18-month campaign. Now that it would be only a little more than four months of glad-handing and begging and weathering political and personal attacks, the popular and socially moderate former governor might just give it a shot.

--That would be a race, concludes Eric Zorn.

Berkowitz sees this somewhat differently:

Eric Zorn contends we are to believe that Edgar will accept a Senate nomination appointment because he can handle a four month campaign, as opposed to the 18 month campaign he faced before this “opportunity arose.”

Ignored by Eric are a few items on the other side of the ledger:

--Edgar’s heart problem. Even if only for four months, hard to run for the U. S. Senate without giving your heart a workout. I doubt if Brenda will be comforted by Zorn’s assurances that four months is a lot better for Edgar’s heart than 18 months. If he does run, it would be the most low octane run ever. Advantage Obama.

--The liberalstream media [and Illinois Dems, these days] prefer their liberal candidates to be consistently liberal and preferably Democrat. In short, they prefer real Dems. Socially moderate only goes so far with them.
Advantage Obama.

--Edgar in his 8 years as Governor and last four years has done what in terms of studying foreign policy issues? or even domestic national policy issues. Yes, he could learn, but four months isn’t a lot of time. Advantage Obama

--Edgar, who Zorn refers to as popular, last had his popularity tested the way it counts, in an election, about 10 years ago. Since then, we have heard a lot about MSI and SOS- George Ryan connections. Yes, Edgar has done reasonably well in more recent polls, but those polls don’t reflect what can happen when Axelrod offers the voters, on Barack’s behalf, an MSI/Edgar/SOS wrap. Advantage Obama.

--Edgar, who said he wanted to be the Education Governor, never did anything to improve the quality of Education in Illinois. Indeed, his only education “accomplishment,” was to adopt Dawn Clark Netsch’s tax swap after he trashed it during the campaign. Another George Ryan “evolver.” Axelrod would again have fun with that, and the Republican base isn’t crazy about tax swaps. Advantage Obama.

--Edgar’s “socially moderate,” views are viewed by the Republican base as pro-abortion, pro-gun control and pro gay rights. The Republican base in Illinois in 2004 is much different that it was in 1994. Thus, Edgar could no longer get out of the Republican primary for Governor or U. S. Senator. With the appointment, he doesn’t have to. That’s why the liberalstream media are so enamored with the idea. So, if Edgar is the top of the ticket, the Republican base is demoralized and stays home. Advantage Obama.

--BTW, the last point is, of course, similar if Topinka is appointed to replace Jack Ryan, should he withdraw-or should she try to run for Governor in 2006. Topinka, with her known “socially moderate,” views and her untested economic views, is anathema to the Republican base. Like Edgar, she could not get out of a Republican Primary for Governor or U. S. Senator, if her life depended on it. Yes, the Rs will support her for Treasurer because, last time they looked, the Treasurer did not have a lot to say about abortion policy, gay rights and gun control. Being a U. S. Senator or Governor is a bit different. The Rs will stay home in droves if JBT is the Republican candidate for either. Advantage Obama.

Let’s see, I am just getting started and it is Obama- 6, Edgar- 0. That would be some race?

I don’t think so, Eric. More like Game, Set and Match. Of course, the liberalstream media would be happy. They couldn’t lose either way.

Jeff Berkowitz is host and producer of “Public Affairs,” and can be reached at JBCG@aol.com.