Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Finally, Crowning Judy Baar Topinka

Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow creeps in this petty pace from day to day to the last syllable of recorded time and all our yesterdays have lighted fools the way to dusty death. Out Out brief candle, life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player that struts and frets his hour upon the stage and then is heard no more. It is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.


So, finally, tomorrow is upon us. The crowning of Treasurer Judy Baar Topinka as the candidate of the Establishment Wing of the Republican Party in the Gubernatorial Primary. This is the day that the mainstream media have been waiting for, for what must have seemed like an eternity for them. First Jim Edgar toys with them and then dashed their fondest hopes. But, Judy—she thought and thought, and then she came through. They knew they could count on Jude.

The Establishment likes moderate Ron Gidwitz, of course. A part of the Chicago Civic Establishment, Ron has been appointed by Democrat Chicago Mayors to high level positions and has raised money by the boatload for Republicans, but the establishment would never let anyone who has never held elected office be their guy. Sorry, Ron, but untested is not what the Establishment likes.

And then there are three conservatives [or Three White boys, as Crain's Greg Hinz has called them]: State Senators Steve Rauschenberger and Bill Brady, and dairyman and money market entrepreneur Jim Oberweis. Oberweis? That problem of differing with President Bush on immigration. Sorry, Jim. A major no no. Senator Brady, not quite ready, never ran statewide before. Rauschenberger? Ran statewide, got overwhelming support from the editorial boards. but you know what, they never thought he would win-- so the Establishment could support a conservative for the U. S. Senate. Also, the Establishment didn't have any real moderates to choose from in that Senate Race. This time they do. Good night Bill. Good night Steve.

As the Chicago Tribune editorial said in contempt and disgust when Alan Keyes walked on the stage last year, the Republican Party needs more “moderate pragmatic conservatives,” and their examples of such were Big Jim Thompson [14 years as Governor], Distinguished Jim Edgar [8 years as Governor] and well, Judy Baar Topinka [11 years as Treasurer, and counting]. The Tribune decided to show some good taste and left George Ryan out of the mix. Some things are better left unsaid.

Of course, regarding Keyes, the Tribune should have said what the Republicans needed was a sensible candidate. Ideology was the least of Keyes’ problems. Try a little humanity, humility and common sense. But, that is another subject for another day. And, certainly not for tomorrow and tomorrow.

Perhaps the Tribune could be right and there could be a term “pragmatic conservative.” But, a moderate conservative? That would seem to be similar to the notion of a liberal conservative, which would seem to be an oxymoron, even as in the olden days “lady wrestler,” would be an oxymoron. Well, no more. We got lady wrestlers, galore, so to speak.

And, the Tribune’s Rick Pearson, Capitol Fax’s Rich Miller and the Sun-Times’ Lynn Sweet and Carol Marin, just to name a few—will, no doubt, breathe a sigh of relief tomorrow morning at 10:00 am.

That will be when three time winner of the State Treasurer’s Crown [the “triple crown”], Judy Baar Topinka, the epitome of “pragmatic moderate conservative,” as the Establishment wing of the Republican Party would see it, steps onto a makeshift stage at the Klas Restaurant in Cicero [perhaps ironically, Al Capone’s base of operations]. Flanked by her honorary Chairman and cheerleader, Jim Edgar, she will say a few words, answer a few questions and then, with Edgar, will be whisked to Peoria. [After all, this is not about ideas, programs, or God forbid, ideology—that would not be pragmatic].

Will Jude play in Peoria? Edgar and Judy are betting yes.
Highlights of Jude in the Gay right’s parade? Probably not for Peoria, but maybe so—remember, Peoria banned discrimination based on sexual orientation more than two years ago. Peoria today is not your grandfather’s Peoria, or even your father’s Peoria, for that matter.

In Peoria, Judy will be flanked by moderate Edgar and the hard to label [albeit holder of many conservative views] Cong. Ray LaHood, who of course will be endorsing Jude and trying to anoint Jude with the LaHood brand of downstate conservatism, the brand that deserted the Conservatives' icon in Illinois, former Senator Peter Fitzgerald, when he was contemplating a second term. No, I don’t think we will see Senator Fitzgerald, the patron saint of conservatives and maybe independents, flanking Judy tomorrow.

Of course, with LaHood rushing to Judy’s side, now we perhaps understand what his aborted run for Governor was all about.

Then Edgar and Judy fly to Marion. A little hamlet with just a few thousand more people than the North Shore's Winnetka, IL. What is there to say about Marion? I can’t think of a thing. Oh yes, it is located at the southern end of the state and it is not very North Shore.

Then Jude stops in at Springfield to measure for drapes and again is flanked by Edgar and LaHood. Hmm, wonder if Bob Kjellander will join Judy for that last stop. After all, he is a Republican National Committeeman, and we hear that Ken Mehlman and the other National Republican Leaders are going to endorse Judy before the Primary is over.

Would Mehlman’s endorsement be of help to Judy? I don’t know.

And, they must be relying on Kjellander’s assessment of the political scene. I mean, the guy does know his way around Springfield, and he knows how to do strategic consulting and strategic marketing for say, Bear Stearns, to the tune of $809,009 for a little bit of work. And a few million more dollars for making some introductions to the Pension Boards? So, why not invite Bob up on the stage with Judy and Ray and Jim. Oh yeah, I forgot, the horse farm deal with Mrs. Kjellander and Jim Edgar. OK, come on up, Mrs. Kjellander and let's make a deal.

Judy, Jim, Ray, Kjellanders—this is what’s left of the Republican Establishment-- Not much, but at least it is united at last, and ready for one last Hurrah Who are we missing? State GOP Chairman Andy McKenna, Jr., you say? They tell me Andy is Switzerland in this race, he has to be, they say. Minority Leader Tom Cross, you say? I think he is staying neutral, but I am not so sure. Speaker Hastert, you say? He may break for Judy, but not just yet. Cong. Mark Kirk? He would seem likely to join Judy, but not just yet.

Oh yes, Jim Thompson. Too bad Jim finds Blagojevich so “refreshing" , for keeping his word on taxes, but as you know, business is business. And, Blago is the Governor. It won’t be the same tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow, creeping in this petty pace, without Jim Thompson up on the stage at the end of the Day. How can you have a pragmatic moderate conservative unity day without Big Jim Thompson? I don’t know. Ask Ken Mehlman, he is the guy who seems to think he knows what is good for Illinois. Me, I just work here.
Jeff Berkowitz, Host and Producer of Public Affairs and an Executive Recruiter doing Legal Search, can be reached at JBCG@aol.com