Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Flying on one wing with Carlos Hernandez Gomez

Last night’s Chicago Tonight had about an eight minute discussion of which Democrat minority pol gets to be Mayor after Mayor Daley tires of the position, becomes vulnerable or is run out of Dodge by Sheriff Fitzgerald, a one minute discussion of the almost certain Eisendrath challenge to Gov. Blagojevich and a three minute discussion of Republican mating and dancing patterns, or lack thereof, for Republican Guv and Lt. Gov. candidates.

That 75%-25% ratio of discussion of Democrat politics to Republican politics no doubt reflects WTTW’s perception of its base audience—that is, predominantly Democratic and liberal, or perhaps it is a slight underestimate of the current and emerging Democratic/liberal bias of Chicago Tonight “in front of the camera,” and backroom staff.

But the interesting portion of the discussion regarding Republican Primary Gubernatorial Candidate Judy Baar Topinka's courtship of DuPage County State's Attorney Joe Birkett as her Lt. Gov. running mate is captured by the exchange, below:
Chicago Tonight’s segment moderator Phil Ponce: But Carlos, isn’t there a risk involved when a moderate tries to court a conservative and a conservative goes along with it, does the conservative not risk his conservative bona fides or her bona fides?

CLTV’s Carlos Hernandez Gomez: Well, that’s the issue, Phil. You’ve got that 33% of the Republican Primary voting block. I’m talking about the movement conservative, that sort of far-right conservative, and they see Judy as a baby—she supports abortion. I mean to them she is a baby killer, she is a—she is a—you know, gay rights supporter, I mean, they—some of these people who are more, who find that—are very inflamed by her views on these issues, so, of course, it is ticket balancing. She gets Birkett, who is very pro-Life, very law and order--

CBS 2-News’s: Mike Flannery: Joe Birkett comes as a prosecutor and, you know, has an image of integrity, you know, being a tough guy.

Hernandez-Gomez: He’s got some baggage.

Mike Flannery: He’s got a lot of baggage when it comes to the death penalty and to the famous Cruz case.
WTTW’s [Chicago Public TV] Chicago Tonight, December 13, 2005.
Phil Ponce asks a perfectly reasonable question. When social conservative Rauschenberger teams with social moderate Gidwitz and social conservative Birkett teams with social moderate Topinka, doesn’t the conservative pol, in each case, risk losing credibility with his base now and in the future?

Of course, the answer is yes, there is that risk. This would be the same, for example, if say a liberal Nancy Pelosi [House Minority Leader] would pair up with a moderate Democrat for President, if I could think of one. But, you see my point, if it were Democrats, I would imagine Carlos would be discussing liberals, at worst, and moderate Democrats.

But, three times in the last two weeks on WTTW [My good friend and well respected Carlos is becoming their go to guy], Hernandez Gomez has referred to far-right conservatives, far right wing and right wing when discussing segments of the Republican Party in Illinois.

I am hoping at some point Phil Ponce, Joel Weisman or one of the other fair and balanced moderators on WTTW will ask Carlos for some examples of just who the far-right conservatives, far right wing and right wing politicians are in the Republican party.

For example, is Sen. Rauschenberger a candidate of the far right-wing or far right conservatives? Joe Birkett? Bill Brady? Jim Oberweis? Yeah, I don’t think he means Judy Baar Topinka or Ron Gidwitz.

I would say each of the above, except for Judy and Ron, would be candidates of the conservative wing or center-right segment of the Republican Party. Rauschenberger has been trying to move to a center-right position, so maybe he is there.

I mean if the far right wing represents 33% of the Republican primary, as Carlos contends, there ought to be some leaders identified with that block. So, Carlos, who are they?

But, the real question is, which Democrats does Carlos put in the category of far-left liberal, far left-wing or left-wing, when he discusses National or Illinois Democrats. Minority Leader in the Senate--Senator Harry Reid? No. 2 in the Senate Minority, Senator Dick Durbin? House Minority Leader Pelosi? Congresswoman Schakowsky? Governor Blagojevich? Lt. Gov. Quinn? State Senator Ronen? State Senator Meeks? State Sen. Del Valle? State Rep. Fritchey? Senator Obama?

I mean I’m not saying. I’m just asking. Fair is fair. If you have far-right conservatives, you must have far-left liberals. Right?

The funny thing is—just a few years ago Carlos was on my show, Public Affairs, for the first time-- and I couldn’t get an opinion from the guy, at least not without a lot of prodding. He explained as a political reporter at WBEZ [Chicago Public Radio] 91.5 FM, he was prohibited from expressing opinions on the air.

Well, he loosened up under my not inconsiderable pressure-- and over the years, even more so. But, then recently, he goes to CLTV [A Chicago Tribune subsidiary] and man, all sorts of opinions about right wing, far right wing stuff come gushing out-- but no left wing stuff. Must be something in the water at CLTV.

Even Cong. Jesse Jackson, Jr. and Cong. Henry Hyde-- a real odd couple-- agree that to fly a plane, you need both a left wing and a right wing.

So, Carlos, next time you are taking off on WTTW, you will be sure to tell us about the far left wing of the Democratic Party? Yes, I know. They might not invite you back. But, not to worry. You are always welcome on “Public Affairs.” We fly with both wings.

And, BTW, where and when can we find you on CLTV? Every day between 2:00 pm and 6:00 pm? You're the guy in the cockpit?
Jeff Berkowitz, Host and Producer of Public Affairs and an Executive Recruiter doing Legal Search, can be reached at