Thankfully for the voters of Illinois, of whom I happen to be one, the Rod and Judy show only has a few more weeks to go. More mudslinging, more "what's she thinking" ads, more of the generous birthday check for Rod's little girl. Then we vote for either the best one for Illinois or the lesser of two evils.
Question: Why isn't Cthulhu running? Or is he gearing up for another presidential run? Hey, at least we get a chance to vote for pure evil with him.
A few days ago, Eric Zorn, in his "Change of Subject" blog, asked whether candidates for office should be compelled to debate the issues a number of times. I voted "no" in the poll, as freedom of speech should not be compulsory. But I also think that all candidates should be offered the chance to air their platforms regardless of political affiliation. To date, I haven't heard any of the other party candidates' platforms or views.
Come to think of it, I haven't heard any platforms from Rod and Judy either. And this is a point of today's post.
The Chicago Tribune, probably still trying to wash the "sin" of endorsing George Ryan for governor eight years ago in the shadow of the Licenses for Bribes scandal, has been obsessing over indictments involving (Rod) Blagojevich aides and friends. In Tuesday's debate between him and (Judy) Topinka before the Tribune editorial board, much of the questioning was devoted to the (in)famous check to his daughter from a friend whose wife was hired for a job that was transferred to DuPage County from Whiteside County and to his friends who face questioning and indictments from the feds regarding "pay for play" politics. Topinka, on the other hand, seemed to have gotten a few "creampuff" questions regarding school funding, gun control as well as "pay for play". I could tell right away who the favorite was, though Topinka didn't directly answer those questions either - she too ganged up on Blagojevich with the editorial board.
What about the hard questions about the issues that directly affect the people of Illinois? Why didn't the Tribune or the media ask those questions? You'd think the media has its own agenda here.
Here are the issues that affect me as well as the voters: Jobs - what will the candidates do to attract more business to Illinois? Housing - what will the candidates do to make housing more affordable to the people of Illinois so that they wouldn't have to travel hundreds of miles between work and home to afford the American Dream in Illinois? Education (and so far Blagojevich has seemed to address that issue during his term) - what will be done to increase education spending equitably throughout the state so that it doesn't unfairly burden the homeowner? Healthcare (and Blagojevich has addressed that issue as well, though it still needs improvement) - what will the candidates do to make healthcare more accessible and affordable to Illinois residents?
These are simple bread-and-butter issues that affect us. The media won't address it because it's not the sensational stuff they need to sell papers or tv and radio advertising. And I got a little secret for you, something that I've learned recently after many years of headbanging against the wall over when people are going to get it and elect decent people to office: And that is (now listen close...):
People don't really care about who's getting money, or who's breaking the law. As long as their needs are being taken care of, and as long as they aren't being hurt by the scandals affecting their elected officials, THEY DON'T CARE.
If they did, then Mayor Daley would have been out on his ass a few years ago, enjoying a quiet retirement at his Michigan summer home. But as long as the streets are clean and the city services are functioning well, then they don't care if a few (or several) of Daley's friends
The reason why George Ryan's going to spend some time
Why did Mark Foley resign from Congress? Because he was caught sending salacious e-mails and IMs to underage former pages, trying to arrange meetings with them. Again, that hurt people directly - kids. Nobody's going to take that. And it looks as though some other people might walk as well because they didn't do anything about it, including House Speaker Dennis Hastert. But not many people from Illinois want to see Hastert give up his House Speaker role because he "brings home the bacon".
But what about Dan Rostenkowski? He was on the take and he went to jail too.
When that happened in 1994, Rostenkowski was chairman of the Ways and Means Committee. He too brought home the bacon. But that was also the year that Republicans took back the House and his brief successor rode in on that wave. However he ended up keeping the seat warm for his successor, who is now our current governor.
So here's a lesson today if you want to go into politics and survive. Communicate your message to the people. Tell them what you're going to do for them and in a way they'll understand. Never mind your opponent. And when you get in, keep your promises. It might bend the budget or even break it, but people will be happy as long as you're keeping your word to them.
Bill Clinton got it, even if he's still loved and reviled today. Rod Blagojevich seems to get it, even if he's loved and reviled today. But Judy Barr Topinka hasn't gotten it. She hasn't really let people know what she's going to do for them, and she doesn't seem to have the dollars to communicate her message to the voters. Instead, she seems to think that she'll get in because Blagojevich apparently has some bad apples in his bunch. The messages she's gotten out to people is that she'll take away the healthcare that the people have gotten under the governor; she'll fund education with casino gambling revenue (good or bad according to your take on gambling); she'll take away veterans' rights (I don't understand that, but that's what the commercials against her say.) and seniors' prescription benefits. But the rest of her message has been lost under the attacks on Blagojevich's record.
So my take on this race is that she'll get votes from the diehard Republicans and those who just don't like Blagojevich for some reason or other. But I think that regardless of his bad apples, Blagojevich should be able to win this race because of what he's been able to deliver on his promises. Whatever will come of the scandals affecting his office remains to be seen. But if people are happy with what they've gotten from him, Rod Blagojevich has it in the bag. And this is from a person who is really neutral about the whole thing.