Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Updated on December 22 at 4:30 pm., revised at 8:45 pm
The Daley Ryan Combine and making up for your father’s mistakes: Obama, Fawell, George Ryan and the State GOP, the unity of it all.
While preparing to tape my show with 13th District Congresswoman Judy Biggert [R- Hinsdale], airing this week and tonight in the suburbs on "Public Affairs," and on this coming Monday night's City of Chicago edition of "Public Affairs" [see the blog entry immediately below for a more detailed airing schedule], I learned that the open seat for which Congresswoman Biggert ran [and won] in 1998 was created when Cong. Harris Fawell announced his retirement in 1997 [Harris Fawell, BTW, subsequently endorsed Biggert for the Republican nomination in her tough Republican primary fight with Senator Peter Roskam and four others- some, if not all, of whose entry into the race was thought to be favorable to Biggert].

Harris Fawell is the uncle of Scott Fawell, who was the right hand man to former Illinois Republican Governor George Ryan. George Ryan, also elected in 1998, did not seek re-election in 2002 [For those outside of Illinois reading this, George’s decision not to seek re-election reflected his general unpopularity due to the gross corruption that characterized his administration of the Secretary of State’s office, but also his gross unpopularity within the Republican Party, especially its conservative base, due to his forsaking all conservative/Republican principles and the public policy commitments he made prior to being elected Governor].

George Ryan was indicted by the U. S. Attorney's Office for the Northern District of Illinois in late 1993 and George is awaiting trial on racketeering charges in March, 2005. Scott Fawell is serving time in prison, himself, and is now cooperating, along with his girlfriend [also indicted], with the federal authorities in the prosecution of the George Ryan indictment and should be a star witness against George, who many characterized as almost, if not, a father to Scott.

Of relevance to the above is a quotation that Illinois U. S. Senator-Elect Barack Obama got a lot of mileage out of during the recent political season, especially during Obama’s recent victory lap on the early morning and late night entertainment/happy talk shows, e.g., David Letterman. As Barack would say, he does not often quote LBJ, but when he does, like so much else that Barack does, it gets your attention.

“Every son is trying to live up to his father’s expectations or make up for his mistakes.” President Lyndon Baines Johnson. It is a quote that Barack raises in the context of discussing his own father, and both the pressure he may have felt, and continues, perhaps, to feel to meet his father’s high expectations and strong life performance and his obligation, as well, to make up for his father’s mistakes in terms of how, in some respects, he treated his family, including Barack.

But, taking the quote another step, across the aisle and across a continent, so to speak, what is its application to Scott Fawell and how he treats his father figure, George Ryan. Will Scott be failing father Ryan’s expectations when he testifies? Or, more likely, will Scott be making up for George’s mistakes, corruption and his bankrupt morality, politics and philosophy, such as they are, when Scott Fawell provides the testimony that could give George Ryan the equivalent of a life sentence.

Moreover, the Daily Herald’s Eric Krol wrote recently how George Ryan’s trial in 2005 could continue to keep Illinois Republicans on the defensive through 2005 and leading up to the 2006 elections. However, those who think about it will know that George Ryan, warts aplenty, arguably belongs more to the Democrats in Illinois than the Republicans. After all, the Daley Ryan Combine, as the Chicago Tribune's John Kass invented the concept and term, starts with Mayor Daley, not George Ryan. For his conversion and “evolution” on the issues of abortion, guns, spending, taxes, capital punishment and airports, it was the Ds, not the Rs, who lionized George and indeed, continue to do so, treating George more as a fallen saint than a corrupt pol. At the end of the Day, it was the Democrats standing by their man George Ryan and promoting him for the Nobel Peace Prize, as opposed to any Republicans of note doing so. Indeed, George Ryan was commonly referred to during his four year gubernatorial reign as the Democrats' favorite Republican- or as a Republocrat.

Will the Republicans figure this out? Will the emerging Republcan Party of reform and principle have a State GOP Chairman who can separate the Party and himself from George Ryan? And tag the Democratic Party with George? With vigor, enthusiasm, persuasiveness and charisma? Or will the Republicans buy into Eric Krol’s conventional wisdom scenario, continue to be defensive about a Governor and his cronies who were never real Republicans and continue to be ensnarled in and by the Daley Ryan Civic Elite (“DRCE”) Combine?

One clue, the State Republican Establishment/Leadership in Illinois seldom misses an opportunity to miss an opportunity. You can almost make book on it, as they say, at the DRCE’s new Chicago-Daley casino to be. And, which Republican "leaders," will have blessed that Chicago owned casino before the doors open? A new State GOP chairman, for one? What an inauspicious start to the New Year that would be.
Jeff Berkowitz, Host and Producer of Public Affairs and an Executive Recruiter doing Legal Search, can be reached at