Thursday, December 08, 2005

A Tale of Two Political Parties

If you stopped by the Gidwitz-Rauschenberger press conference yesterday morning, you saw a somewhat bewildered but intense press group, grilling the Odd Couple-- Ron Gidwitz and Sen. Steve Rauschenberger. Does the pairing of gubernatorial candidate Gidwitz with former Guv candidate Rauschenberger as Gidwitz's Lt. Gov. running mate make any sense, how will it work and does the pairing play with either moderates or conservatives. And, of course, does the pairing enable Team Gidberger to climb out of the cellar to win their party’s nomination. In short, it was no trip to the beach for either Ron Gidwitz or Sen. Rauschenberger.

After the Gidwitz-Rauschenberger festivities, Senator Brady made himself available in a room across the hall [One stop shopping for the media], and the press obliged him with more skepticism about his race and whether his campaign could survive much longer than Rauschenberger’s had.

An Oberweis staffer, attending the Team Gidwitz-Rauschenberger press conference, was there to spread good Cheer and whisper to the media that Oberweis had a media availability at 4:00 pm, but I didn’t learn where it would be, so I can ‘t tell you how that went.

BTW, WTTW’s Chicago Tonight, which fell all over itself [literally and figureatively] last week to cover Judy Baar Topinka’s announcement, provided no coverage of today’s press conferences involving all the other Republican gubernatorial candidates, other than Sirott’s ten second mention of the Gidwitz-Rauschenberger ticket.

I might think that Chicago Tonight provides biased political coverage just to taunt me, but I don’t think it gives politics and public policy sufficient thought for that to be likely. The lead story last night on Chicago Tonight, in place of, say, Gidwitz-Rauschenberger, was the cold weather, and that was followed by a short segment on a Katrina family in Chicago, which in turn was followed by a baseball/football segment. Obviously, Chicago Tonight continues to think weather, along with sports, doesn’t get sufficient commercial coverage. And, there is WTTW to “shoot the sports/weather gap in commercial media coverage.”
Jeff Berkowitz: Steve, would you be forfeiting today the support of social conservatives, on the issues of abortion, on gay rights, on gun ownership, or do you expect those folks to support you?

State Senator Steve Rauschenberger [nodding his head no, as the question was asked]: All Republicans of good conscience will come to understand, I think, that we can’t make progress if we first don’t deal with ethics and reform. The Republican Party will only be successful if we recapture the ethical highground. Republicans can no longer stand silent about the past administrations and currently what goes on in Springfield. You can’t make progress on things you care about until you can win an election. Ron Gidwitz and I agree on 90% of the social issues that conservatives care about in the state of Illinois. We both support the Republican platform. [Cong.] Henry Hyde is comfortable with Ron Gidwitz’s approach to issues that we don’t agree on [Ed. Note. Some of that comfort may reflect the fact that Ron Gidwitz has chaired Cong. Hyde’s finance Committee for a number of years]. We’re going to move forward, focused on moving the flag forward. No team’s perfect. No politician’s perfect. No candidate’s perfect, but this is a great team, greater than the sum of its parts.
Team Gidwitz-Rauschenberger speaking at a joint Press Conference this morning [Dec. 7] at the Embassy Suites Hotel in Chicago, with Ron’s and Steve’s wives, Christiana and Betty, at their respective sides, but not engaging in a speaking role.
In sharp contrast to the tension at the Gidwitz-Rauschenberger event was Gov. Blagojevich’s announcement of the start of registration of All Kids outside of Nordstrom's at the North Bridge Mall in Chicago. A nice backdrop of Christmas shoppers to moms and kids, who have come to pick up their health insurance from Blago, with a few scattered press in the crowd.

Flannery and Shaw lobbed a question or two of substance at the Governor, but you could tell their heart wasn’t in it. It just wasn’t the right setting for a grilling or a media feeding frenzy. And, my question on Eisendrath, below, was well within the Christmas spirit, and a follow-up wasn’t going to happen, either. Then, Mike Flannery decided to dazzle all with his and Blago’s knowledge of the Cubs, presenting Blago with an opportunity to give the assembled a five minute discourse on what the Cubs needed to do, by trade, or otherwise, to turn themselves into World Champs.

So, we went from Gidwitz, Rauschenberger and Brady each trying to persuade a skeptical press that they could be contenders instead of pretenders to Governor Blagojevich waxing eloquent on the Chicago Cubs, and all within an hour of each other. If I had some time, I’d edit the two events into a one hour show and demonstrate to Newt Minow and WTTW what they could do, if they really wanted to address the issue of the Vast Wasteland, which now visits, from time to time, Public TV, which once upon a time, was intended to be the Vast Wasteland’s cure. More is the Pity, as they say. And, yet Newt Minow, who sits on WTTW’s Board, does not seem to notice, either the fact or the irony, or if he does notice, does not seem to be speaking out about it.
Jeff Berkowitz: Governor, are you concerned about Edwin Eisendrath running in the Democratic Primary as a challenger to you? [See here for a video interview with the former Chicago alderman and Clinton regional HUD appointee; Andy Shaw reported today that Eisendrath is “very close,” to announcing his candidacy for Governor].
Gov. Rod Blagojevich: Look, I have said all along that this is a great country; it’s a free country. This is a country to get a guy like me with a name like mine- where I came from- a chance to be Governor in a state like this. I’d be the last person in the world to ever tell anybody not to pursue their dreams, so whoever he or she may be who wants to run for this office or any other office, they have every right to do it.
A short Press Conference following Gov. Blagojevich’s announcement of the start of registration for the All Kids program, Dec. 7 at noon at the
Westfield North Bridge Mall on the Magnificent Mile in Chicago.
Jeff Berkowitz, Host and Producer of Public Affairs and an Executive Recruiter doing Legal Search, can be reached at