Monday, July 05, 2004

Revised July 6, 2004 at 2:00 pm

Strange bedfellows: Liberal Al Hunt, Brit Hume [more about this later], Jack Ryan, and Jeri Lynn Ryan take on the Chicago Tribune, [Mostly Moderate] GOP state party leaders and Ultra Democrat Larry Handlin of

So where is Berkowitz, you ask? Being fair and balanced, like Scott Fornek, he is not taking sides, and he is certainly neither supporting nor endorsing a candidate for office.

Below is a partial transcript of the Chicago Sun-Times’ Scott Fornek’s discussion, on this week’s CNN’s Capital Gang, of the Jack Ryan demise. Fornek’s discussion is pretty fair and balanced, pointing out that some missteps [perhaps misleading statements by Jack as to what was in the sealed records] probably contributed to the demise of Ryan’s candidacy. [Fornek did not say it on Capital Gang, but perhaps a lack of candor by Jack Ryan as to whether a reasonable person would be embarrassed by the disclosure of the Jack Ryan and Jeri Lynn Ryan sealed records was yet another significant misstep by Jack Ryan and his campaign].

Fornek, being fair and balanced, noted the point made last week by Senator Peter Fitzgerald that it does seem odd that the Republican Party state leaders would get so much religion over honesty in terms of what Jack said to them about the sealed records before disclosure and yet have remained so quiet for so long about the now indicted former Governor George Ryan. Former Illinois Attorney General Jim Ryan [no relation to Jack or George] referred to so-called Republican George Ryan, when Jim was the Republican candidate for Governor in 2002, as having presided over the most corrupt administration [apparently referring to George’s tenure as Secretary of State] in the State of Illinois’ history. And, considering the checkered public corruption history of Illinois, that is saying something about the fairly recently [2001-2003] acclaimed hero of the left, George Ryan.

Scott did not point out that when George Ryan changed his position on virtually every position, from conservative to liberal, after he was elected Governor, that little bit of deception and misrepresentation to the voters of Illinois was never criticized or apparently even noted by the same GOP State Party Leaders, mostly “moderates,” who were quick to jump on Jack Ryan for his alleged misrepresentations.

Al Hunt, no conservative is he, also noted that he was “sort of bothered,” perhaps uncomfortable [to steal a word from Jeri Lynn Ryan], apparently with what the Tribune had done to uncover and then put into five inch headlines the story of allegations of what Jack Ryan had asked of his wife. Fornek notes that liberal Hunt is in good company with many others, including some Democrats, if not the Tribune and Illinois GOP Party Leaders. Politics makes for strange bedfellows. Liberal Al Hunt and Conservative Jack Ryan taking on the so-called conservative Tribune and mostly moderate Illinois GOP Party leaders.

After you read the transcript, below, for another view of the world, you may want to visit Larry Handlin’s Larry criticizes yours truly, Jeff Berkowitz, and concludes I must be a “supporter,” of Jack Ryan, in part because I have criticized the Tribune-suggesting the Tribune may not have been consistent in its treatment of the sealed records of Jack Ryan and the sealed records of John Kerry. Moreover, I have suggested, below, that perhaps the Tribune Company’s power would be diminished by the election of Jack Ryan and that expectation of a loss of power could have contributed to it taking actions to oppose Jack. I have expressed similar thoughts with respect to certain State Republican Party leaders.

No necessity for an overt conspiracy, here, folks. Just people with similar views and similar interests working in large part unilaterally to achieve what each person or entity thinks is in his or her best interests. Back in the graduate school of economics department at the University of Chicago under Uncle Milty, we used to describe such efforts by individuals simply as attempts to maximize utility subject to a budget constraint, a not very revolutionary concept in economics.

Finally, I have questioned the accuracy, in a separate blog entry, below, of Sun-Times columnist Mark Brown’s coverage of the Ryan/McCulloch issue and of McCulloch’s March, 2004 Statement, faxed around in March, 2004, to various people and posted on Rich Miller’s www.Capitolfax site. Unbeknownst to me and perhaps to most others, Rod also did an affidavit on the subject, which he gave to the Tribune. Rod has now told me he will fax the affidavit to me, but I have not yet seen it.

Archpundit Handlin, an unabashed supporter and endorser of Democrats everywhere and who apparently takes pride in not attempting to be “fair or balanced,” finds all of those thoughts and writings of mine to be inconsistent with my claim to be fair and balanced in terms of not supporting any candidates, and he joins Rod MuCulloch (whose rant about others and me Archpundit posts to his site) in charactizing me as a supporter of Jack Ryan [although Rod does admit of the possibility that I might instead be merely a “useful idiot,” to steal a phrase from the Marxists in general, or was it the Stalinist’s affectionate way of referring to their fellow travelers on the Left in America].

Well, I am neither. At least, I hope not. But, as we always say, we discuss, you decide.
Mark Shields [CNN’s Capital Gang moderator]: Joining us now from Chicago is Scott Fornek, the lead political reporter for the Chicago Sun-Times; he was the only print journalist who conducted an interview with Jack Ryan this week…Scott, did Jack Ryan betray the Republican Party or did the Illinois Republicans simply toss him overboard?

Scott Fornek: I think it is a little bit of both, Mark. Actually, there have been some serious questions raised here from prominent Illinois Republicans about what Jack Ryan told them would be in these papers before they became public. I am talking people like Dennis Hastert, the speaker of the House; former Governor Jim Edgar; Judy Baar Topinka, the State Republican Party Chairman [and State Treasurer]. They all say that what he told them, the sneak preview he gave them, didn’t really square with what was in the [now sealed] papers. Some have suggested Jack was misleading them. Others are saying, giving him the benefit of the doubt, saying, you know, maybe he forgot, somehow, to tell them the real juicy materials. But it has left a lot Republicans thinking he was less than forthcoming about this stuff and that has been part of why the Party Leadership deserted him last week and just let him twist in the wind [Actually, they did some twisting and some stoning]. [Senator Peter] Fitzgerald, though, raises a good point… he has… said that some of these same party leaders who and some of the people who were kind of privately calling for him to get out- they have tolerated corrupt politicians here in the past; they were close to people like former Governor George Ryan, who is under criminal indictment now- they didn’t speak out against him [George Ryan]- [so] why is an issue of sex clubs suddenly, you know, the question of honesty there such a key factor for them.
Fornek: … The conservative element [of the Republican Party] while they have not controlled the Party [in Illinois] for quite some time, they have never really been quite strong enough, they have a big control over the primary, they come out in the primary and they have a big voice—they have controlled the primary elections of a number of candidates including frankly, Peter Fitzgerald as an example; and the more moderate wing of the [Republican] party does better, though, with their candidates, and they have traditionally, in general elections, so there is a big split there [in the party] and that is a lot of what is going on now. There is a question now [as to] who exactly is going to pick the replacement [for Jack Ryan]. Is it going to be the more conservative elements who helped get Jack Ryan nominated in the first place or is it going to be some of the more moderate party leaders?

Al Hunt [resident Wall St. Journal liberal and regular Capital Gang Panelist]: …I have always pretty much felt that if you are a politician, you are a candidate for public office; your life ought to be an open book. I think you ought to have to release financial records and tax returns and the like. For some reason this one sort of bothers me. I mean this guy [Jack Ryan] may or may not have had some kinky personal ideas about sex but is there any thought out there about whether we may have gone a little bit too far this time.

Fornek: Oh, I think there are clearly thoughts about that. I mean Jack Ryan himself says it and obviously he has an interest in it, but frankly I have heard from some Democrats saying where does this lead, where does this end? And, there are a lot of people who are saying this is an allegation- frankly, that did involve his wife, now clearly if you read her allegation, she says in these custody papers she was uncomfortable with what he was trying to do here- that is her allegation. But, basically it is an allegation; it is an unproven allegation. And, it did involve basically a man and his wife, while they were still married. So, yes, I think there are serious questions being raised. Other people, as you say, say- Hey, let the voters decide.
Scott Fornek, appearing by satellite link on CNN’s Capital Gang, July 3, 2004.