The new government in Baghdad may be more stable than the current mess called the State of Illinois.
The Governor calls a special session to get a budget now 24 days over due. The Speaker of the House tells his colleagues don't show up. The Governor issues another declaration for a special session for the next day. The massive political tennis match of procedure has begun; and the surprise is that both the Guv and Speaker are Democrats.
But Democrats in name only . . . .
Illinois democrats have split into three to four tribal groups. The Governor, Blaggojellyfish, is a sinless new youth Demigod in the youthful Bill Clinton mode of career jumps in politics no matter the cost. He is a first term office holder that has his Chicago alderman father-in-law in the smoke filled backrooms jabbing at the remains of the Daley machine like a man poking a stick into a washed up whale on the beach. This political axis has an axe to grind with the long standing Democratic patronage machine.
Mayor Daley and Senate leader Emil Jones, another Democrat, are old school Democrat machine politicians who are in the game to cut deals, funnel jobs to their friends, and run the state house for the benefit of their contributors. They like the way things run. They are ticked off that the party controls all state elected offices excluding the state treasurer, but they can't get anything done. And there is money to be made without a watch dog in the warehouse.
The Speaker Mike Madigan has foisted his daughter to the position of Attorney General. Little Lisa appears to be a daddy's girl, running interference against the Governor's programs and positions, and against the old school moneygrabbers like the suburban casino interests. The Speaker is angling to get his daughter elected governor.
But the current Governor needs to hang around until 2008 if he wants to launch his presidential run like Bill Clinton did. Blaggo's solution to everything is to borrow more money. Borrow billions to fund the state pensions (direct benefits the pols who collect multiple state pensions). Borrow hundreds of millions to pay over due Medicaid and Medicare bills. Mortgage the State of Illinois Building for a 200 million (with double the repayment cost over time.) But when the bills for these three-card monty moves come due, the Governor will not be office. He does not care because he won't be around to clean up the bankruptcy mess.
The last group, a small and quiet lot, are the downstate Democrats who are weary of any legislation favorable to Chicago. In hard economic times, downstate county seats are boarded up. The small rural towns are fighting over new prison construction sites, willing to take an uptick in local crime in order to get a few dozen permanent jobs.
By default, the largest group in power would be the minority Republicans, but the GOPers have imploded with the former Governor, George Ryan's, friends being indicted for various scandals. The state Republicans are so in disarray that both Bush and Kerry have decided to skip all aspects of campaigning in Illinois. It is such a wash that the Bush campaign is not pushing hard to get even George W. on the ballot. (Due to the late national GOP convention, the Bush nomination would be past the official deadline date for submission for the state board of elections. It takes a new act from the General Assembly, controlled by the fighting Dems, so nothing will get done.) The RNC had written off the State electoral votes last year to concentrate on the 14 critical swing states.
The only contested November race would have been for the Republican U.S. Senate seat. The Democrat, Barack Obama, initially was confused in the public's mind with Osama bin Laden (why is he running for senate?) He has political baggage, but the media has let him pass in favor of the scandal of the Republican candidate, Jack Ryan. The first problem was his name, Ryan. It is the name of death in Illinois politics with the George scandals and federal indictments. So the candidate has been running on his first name, Jack, in his posters and advertising. The second problem was Jack's Hollyweird divorce to former Star Trek star, Jeri Ryan. In the divorce, Jeri accused Jack of taking her to sex clubs during their marriage and demanding sex from her. In the divorce, Jack denied the allegation. He stated that this allegation came in response to his complaint that she had had an affair. Those court records were under seal until Chicago media asked a California judge to release the information. So when the records were unsealed, the media continued to play up the sex allegations (but losing the denial aspect of the story quickly).
State and national Republican leaders are aghast at the allegations. They feel betrayed. (They probably feel relieved because Ryan was losing in the polls, 52-30 before the allegations surfaced in the press.) Republicans get queasy about public sex while Democrats like the Friends of Bill revel in the subject. So there is a movement to get Jack to resign and remove himself from the ballot.
If the media and the elephant leadership really looked at the matter, the unproven allegation is not as bad as the rumors. People believed that there were some really, really, really political death penalty type of allegations in that court file. But the sexual relationship between a married couple is a lesser offense than adultery or sexual harassment which are discussed like a badge of honor in the Clinton book. Ryan may get the married, NASCAR dad vote in sympathy for all those guys who also beg for a little action.
The national party canceled a fundraiser for Ryan. The word is that the leaders are begging Ryan to drop off the ballot so the state party can appoint a stronger candidate. However, Ryan beat the other candidates in the primary. And the fact is that no one would want to take over a broken campaign late in the game with little chance for fundraising since Bush is not coming to town.
Illinois has turned into a lost cause in many ways, on both sides of the political aisle, with no hope in sight unless it is attached to the end of a federal grand jury subpoena.
Opinion, Commentary, Editorial Cartoons by Ski.
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