Thursday, October 01, 2009

The most perceptive man Tom Roeser knows-- Tom Roeser?

My good friend, Tom Roeser, had a cute little piece yesterday in the Chicago Daily Observer (“CDO”), an online daily publication he runs with John Powers [also a friend of mine], a Wilmette entrepreneur who appears to struggle to keep his libertarian and Catholic beliefs at peace with each other. Roeser, of course, is a strong traditional conservative whose Catholic beliefs appear to fit more easily together with his other views than the sometimes competing views of his colleague-- Powers.

Roeser, Powers and their intellectual allies appear frequently in the CDO to bash President Obama, Democrats and others who they see as hostile to traditional values, Christianity and to a lesser extent, free markets and the libertarian views of Powers. [As a disclaimer, I should note that a few of my columns have appeared in the CDO, but generally my non-partisan style and secular views do not seem to mesh with the ethos of the CDO].

However, this time around, Roeser decided to turn his turrets not on President Obama and other Democrats, but on some Republicans. Republicans in Illinois are noted for their famous circular firing squads.

Roeser’s fictitious friend

The piece by Roeser is peculiar in that he tells readers it contains the views of a “longtime Illinois GOP strategist…the most perceptive man I know… who didn’t want to be quoted.” That could be but most of what Tom describes as the views of the GOP strategist sounds a lot like the views of, well—Tom Roeser.

Bashing McKenna, Jr.

For starters, Tom bashes Andy McKenna, Jr. as having no ideas, no skills, no accomplishments, no charisma, etc. Of course, those have been the views of Roeser from the get go with Andy. On his radio program, Political Shoot-out [on which this journalist has been a frequent guest], Tom first spoke of McKenna, Jr. as being someone he met at a party who seemed so nervous “that he couldn’t keep his knees from knocking.”

Bashing Topinka

Then Tom bashes former State Treasurer, 2006 Gov Candidate, State GOP Chair and now Comptroller candidate Judy Baar Topinka as lacking in intellectual substance, political skill, political philosophy, leadership skills, smarts—in short, there is not too much there to like. Further, Topinka failed to endorse Senator Peter Fitzgerald’s re-election, circa 2002, and then denied it, a mortal sin in Roeser's world.

Bashing Bill Brady

On a roll, Roeser turns next to bash Senator Bill Brady (R-Bloomington) as shallow and “lighter than a Panama hat,” a phrase Roeser has used in the past to bash Brady on his radio show. Yet Roeser continues to cast these attacks as coming from his fictitious “longtime Illinois GOP strategist.”

Further, Roeser goes after Brady for splitting the conservative vote for Governor in 2006 with Oberweis, making Topinka the Republican nominee for Governor. Along the way, Roeser analogizes Brady to Robert Redford’s Bill McKay in ”The Candidate,” telling us that Brady is “too handsome, too dumb.”

Let the political market work its magic

Let’s turn to an assessment of Roeser’s assessments. Yes, one could support many of the criticisms of McKenna. But, let’s see how he does as a Gov candidate. Maybe he has learned something from his 2004 Senate Primary loss and his difficulties as State GOP Chair. As for Topinka, let her run for Comptroller. She can’t do much harm in that position and perhaps a stronger candidate will challenge her.

Are there many bright pols?

Brady? He’s been on my show a number of times. No Einstein, but I’m not sure he is any less bright than most of the other 600 pols, Republican and Democratic, who have graced the set of “Public Affairs.”

Roeser’s political love affairs

Tom seems to have fallen in love with State Senator Kirk Dillard (R-Westmont) and Bob Schillerstrom, DuPage County Board Chairman. Yes, Kirk Dillard is a charming guy with a lot of experience under Jim Thompson and Jim Edgar, and the last 15 years, or so, as a State Senator. And, admittedly, Dillard is a smart guy who seems to work well with Democrats- some would say “Too well.” And, State Senator Chris Lauzen (R-Aurora), who now supports Dillard effusively, just a few years ago accused Dillard of “stabbing the Republican Senate caucus in the back.” So, Senator Dillard has some flaws worth considering.

As to Schillerstrom, it is a little harder to see what accomplishments have so impressed Tom to convince him that we would be “lucky to have Bob as our governor.” But, be that as it may, we’ll let the political market sort that out.

Andrzejewski- Keep him in the mix?

Tom seems to dismiss Adam Andrzejewski, a very successful, self-made, young businessman with a net worth of more than ten million dollars, as a gubernatorial candidate because he has no experience in government. Well, yes, it would be nice if Adam knew how many state reps and state senators were in the General Assembly, but it is not clear he couldn’t turn out better than the Republican and Democratic alternatives.

Proft- Keep him in the mix?

Tom dismisses Dan Proft because of his past “contemporaneous,” work for ultra-conservative Alan Keyes and ultra-moderate Beth Coulson and the fact of having worked for Cicero. Whatever you want to say about Keyes, Coulson and Cicero, it is not like Proft committed a crime. He was a political consultant and provided PR services for an unusual grouping of clients. For that, Roeser wants to banish Proft from Tom’s holy land? Proft also may have more good ideas about government than all the other candidates combined. Keep Dan in the mix.

Cong. Kirk, any redeeming values?

As to the U. S. Senate Republican Primary, Roeser also laments the complete lack of conscience exhibited by and convictions held by Cong. Mark Kirk (R-Highland Park, 10th CD). But, Tom forgets, not too long ago, he himself introduced Mark Kirk at the City Club of Chicago and spoke quite highly of him, notwithstanding his socially moderate views. Yes, that may have been before Kirk disappointed Roeser and others by failing to support the Surge in Iraq and voting for Cap and Trade. But, let’s keep Kirk in the mix as the voters get to know conservative Pat Hughes and some of the second tier candidates, and get to know Kirk the Senate candidate.

Yes, Tom is depressed because although his fictitious GOP strategist predicts a win for Hughes in the general election over Democrat U. S. Senate candidate David Hoffman, he also predicts a win for gubernatorial candidate Bill Brady, in both the Primary and the General Election.

More or fewer primaries?

But, Tom, as no less an authority than Joe Morris, Illinois’ Mr. Conservative says, the Republican Party doesn’t need fewer contested primaries, it needs more. Let’s let the political market work its magic, even as we let the economic marketplace sort things out.

Why we play the game

And, as my good friend and Democratic Strategist, Pete Giangreco, always reminds me, we don’t necessarily know who is best or who will win—that’s why we play the game.

So, Tom, put your fictitious friend back in your mental closet, and let’s see if Dillard, Schillerstrom and Hughes are as good as you say they are. Let the games begin. After all, we do live in Chicago, or is it Copenhagen?
Jeff Berkowitz, Show Host/Producer of "Public Affairs," and Executive Legal Recruiter doing legal search can be reached at *************************************************************
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