Sunday, February 07, 2010

Only in Illinois

What is it about this state that produces such salacious political scandals? Is it the Great Lakes drinking water? Here's a small sampling, not counting Rod Blagojevich nor the latest political eruption swirling around Democratic Lt. Governor nominee Scott Lee Cohen. Casting aspersions on the nominee would seem like piling on. Mr. Cohen can speak for himself:

Mr. Cohen, a pawnbroker -- his legitimate claim to the fashionable “outsider” label in this year’s Illinois elections -- beat out three other “inside” pols for Lt. Governor, completely surprising the party establishment. It’s not the first time a wild-card candidate for Lt. Governor has won a major party primary. In 1986, candidates from the extremist Lyndon LaRouche faction -- those charming people responsible for the Hitler mustache posters of Obama -- “sent the party into a tailspin” by winning Democratic nominations for two statewide offices.

Former Illinois Senator Adlai Stevenson, III had narrowly lost the governorship to Jim Thompson in 1982 and was in a good position to unseat Thompson, who was vying for an unprecedented 4th term. That is, until the LaRouche debacle forced Stevenson to run on the so-called “Solidarity Party” ticket -- invoking Lech Walesa’s Polish labor revolt was, sadly, insufficient to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat. And so, when Adlai III came out of retirement the other day to implore Cohen to step down, it was like déjavu all over again.

Cohen refuses to drop out, despite pressure to do so from the entire Democratic establishment. Maybe Elvis can convince him? I’m inclined to blame Rham Emanuel and David Axelrod for this one, too. Why not. I can just picture Rhambo on the phone with the big boss man of Illinois Democrats: “How did this fucking thing happen! Can’t I fucking delegate any-fucking-thing anymore!? In my own FUCKING STATE!”

Governor Quinn claims he never saw a Chicago Sun-Times 3-17-09 column in which Mr. Cohen’s problems first came to light. Strange how this story was apparently deemed unworthy of wider exposure in the cutthroat, competitive Chicago media. Almost like mischievous collusion, as if they sat on the story waiting for it to explode in full bloom.

Lynn Sweet, the Sun Times’ chief political correspondent, did she? Of course she knew about it; she knows everything that’s going on in Chicago politics. That’s her meal ticket. When I saw Lynn on TV talking about this she looked like she’d had a face-lift. Times (no pun intended) are tough in the newspaper media business. Nothing like a salacious political scandal to boost their ratings and enhance job security. Call it the fortunate alignment of the world’s three oldest professions -- prostitute, pawnbroker, and politician -- in one story: The Case of the Terrible Ps!

Ultimately, though, it was the state Democratic Party’s responsibility to vet its candidates before the election. It seems that vetting potential officeholders has not been a strength of the current administration. Perhaps it’s a systemic Illinois thing. People here seem to favor glass houses. And what is it about insurgent politicians with the first name “Scott” that makes them so toxic to the Democratic Party?


Anonymous said...

He's got my vote! Imagine your own life under a microscope like that if you were running for office. Pretty scary? that reporter in one of the biggest (insert curse word here) that I've ever seen.

Carlos said...

Well, Mr. Cohen dropped out. As one journalist said, he's never seen an unindicted politician for statewide office with so much baggage. "That reporter," Phil Ponce, is actually an excellent journalist for PBS. He asked the questions that needed to be asked in a dignified setting; that's his job.It shouldn't have come this far, and that's the Party's fault for not vetting more thoroughly.