Thursday, July 22, 2004

Updated July 22, 2004 at 1:30 am, revised at 10:00 am

Carol Marin misses the Reform divide in the Republican Party;

The Chicago Tribune’s sealed records;

Are the Illinois GOP Establishment State Party Leaders ready for Reform?

In an otherwise insightful and entertaining column in Wednesday’s Chicago Tribune about some of the Illinois Republican Party’s problems with finding a credible candidate for the U. S. Senate race, Carol Marin misses what some, e.g., former Senator O’Malley, call the dominant issue in the Republican Party divide.

Marin states,

“The very thing the Republican Party decries is the thing on which it has relied for too long. Star power. It has had headliners such as Thompson and Edgar but no real party to speak of. Although the GOP under the leadership of state Treasurer Judy Baar Topinka has made some headway in terms of building a field operation and a war chest, it has a long way to go.

Personally, I'm hoping Dillard does it.

He has spent important time in the legislature doing some good work. Ironically, a lot of it has been done in concert with Obama. They co-sponsored ethics legislation, death-penalty reforms and bills to videotape confessions and prevent racial profiling.

Dillard and Obama, though friends, represent very different views on abortion, gun control, gay rights and a host of social and fiscal issues.”

Yes, Carol, it is true that Dillard and Obama differ on the above referenced social issues. But, that doesn’t mean that Dillard would not have had trouble rallying, with enthusiasm, a number of the conservatives.

Former Senator and Republican gubernatorial candidate Pat O’Malley will tell you that while no one cares more about the Pro-Life issue and as he puts it, “Bill of Rights,” i.e., especially 2nd Amendment issues than Pat does, the really crucial dividing line in the Republican Party is between those who believe in reform and those who want either (a) to participate in the Daley- [George] Ryan Combine, an entity that Pat views as corrupt or (b) to look the other way with respect to the Combine, or corruption.

When you take this perspective, according to O’Malley that puts conservatives like O’Malley/Rauschenberger/Lauzen/Oberweis and probably Jack Ryan, as well as moderates Corinne Wood and Cook County GOP Chairman and once Cong. Phil Crane challenger and perhaps future Phil Crane replacement Gary Skoien on one side of the divide and perhaps social conservatives Dillard/Daniels/Kjellander and moderates Thompson, Edgar, Judy Baar Topinka on the other side of the divide, i.e. with the Daley- [George] Ryan combine.

According to Pat O’Malley, the above Reform divide is even more important than the abortion divide in the Republican Party. Pat contends that a lot of his base—i.e., the 29% who voted for him in the Gubernatorial primary, as well as a lot of the 44% who voted for Jim Ryan in the race were doing so not only on the “Life,” issue, but also on the Reform issue. Pat didn’t say it, but if Wood is really on the Reform side of the equation, then a lot of her Pro-Choice supporters, 27% in the gubernatorial primary, are also on the Reform side of the equation. Pat’s point is that a lot of those [reform oriented] folks might support Dillard over Obama, but with a lot less enthusiasm that a Raushenberger or Jack Ryan candidacy, thus depressing turnout, etc.

This whole Reform issue, which O’Malley contends is at the core of the schism in the Republican Party—was missed completely by Tribune Columnist Carol Marin and the rest of the mainstream media. Indeed, joining Marin in this omission were the Chicago Tribune reporters who have been covering the Republican Senate Candidate debacle. The Tribune Reporters seem to have missed this whole line of argument and contention by Senator O’Malley.

That is odd, since the Tribune’s Kass is the guy who invented the phrase- Daley/[George] Ryan Combine. That doesn’t mean that all at the Tribune have to agree with Kass, but they should be aware and report on the argument. Perhaps it is something in the culture at the Chicago Tribune, i.e., not to challenge the pillars of the Daley- Ryan Combine, notwithstanding Kass’ columns. I would ask someone at the Tribune about this, but, no doubt, it is analogous to one of their sealed records- like the affidavit the Tribune got from Rod McCulloch to support his claims as to what he saw of the Jack Ryan sealed records. Chicago Tribune reporter John Chase told me he could not make the McCulloch affidavit available because that would be against the Tribune policy—of not providing such information to journalists outside the Tribune. Well, at least John referred to me, implicitly, as a journalist. McCulloch told me he would give me a copy of his affidavit—but now says he can’t seem to find a copy, but he was still looking in the McCulloch archives, as of last week.

Mr. Dold, Mr. Wycliff, please help me out, the “Public’s right to know.” I mean, how proprietary can the McCulloch affidavit be, at this stage of the game. This is more like one academic asking for the data of another academic, so he can check the reliability of the academic’s published article. I am told they ask for such data and get it all the time. Indeed, maybe Dold/Wycliff would like to compare the affidavit with the disclosed sealed records to see who got what right as to what was alleged by Jeri Lynn Ryan.

After all, at the time, the Chicago Tribune labelled the disclosure of the sealed records a "bombshell," a somewhat self-fulfilling Tribune prophecy, which Tribune Editor Ann Marie Lipinski seemed to concede to Tribune Public Editor Don Wycliff was a mistake, with Lipinski implying someone other than the Tribune Editor decides when to use five column headlines above the fold and what to put in those headlines. But, who does decide such things, Mr. Wycliff? Has something been done to make such a mistake less likely? Will the Tribune give me a copy of the McCulloch affidavit? Inquiring minds, including no doubt those of the Medill School of Journalism students, want to know.

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