Gov. Pat Quinn turns out to be just another jerk politician

Illinois announces High Speed rail project

As a young reporter and a liberal years ago, and as Pat Quinn was just getting started, I believed that Illinois' now-governor was something of an opportunist who camouflaged his ambitions under a cloak of populist do-gooderism. He was one of those guys who was always informing the media about all the swelll things that he was doing for "the people." The city, young reporters quickly discovered, was loaded with such types. What differentiated Quinn from the others is that he succeeded in making a living at it.

Establishment politicians generally found him to be a pain in the neck too, and, for that reason, liberal independents (generally of the lakefront type) liked him. Truly, he was the classic outsider who worked his way to the inside, while successfully retaining his mantra of independent populism.
Reporters long knew the real Pat Quinn, and by now the voters should know too. Nothing demonstrates it better than his acceptance of a $75,000 campaign contribution from the Teamsters Union just before he used his amendatory veto to rewrite the critical McCormick Place legislation to help the union expand its membership at the lakefront exposition center. 
If that weren't disturbing enough, his transparently self-serving explanation for accepting the contribution has turned the governor into something of a joke. There should be no doubt remaining that this self-styled "reformer" is a fraud.

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  • I'm astounded (and pleased) that the legislature actually overrode his attempted shenanigans. This may be the one and only time they've done something that showed some backbone.

  • I was also a young reporter with liberal leanings, but I never experienced the conservative epiphany and remain under the influence of the mauderings of John Stuart Mill, Tom Paine Thomas Jefferson and the like. In assignments on political "beats" I met a lot of politicians and would-be politicians who were opportunistic jerks. Jerk-ism didn't appear to be a quality associated strongly with party affiliation--it was about equally present in Democrats and Republicans as I recall. A common feature of jerk-ism is the jerk's ability to sense opportunities to "take my message to the public"--as in the ability to sense the presence of a TV news crew that provides an opportunity to shoulder his/her way into an interview. You knew Pat Quinn. i didn't, because my reportorial days were not in Illinois. Your "take" on him has a familiar ring. I'm not sure how much your assessment of him is colored by your political position.

    Speaking of which---I would like to have your "take" on Republican candidate Bill Brady's belief in and support of, creationism. Brady has said that he would like to abolish the Illinois State School Board, and allow the teaching of creationism in public chools to be a decision of local school boards. It is pretty certain what would happen: where local school boards are controlled by evangelicals, creationism would replace science in the public school curriculum. We only have to look at Texas to see the template.

    As a conservative, would you support any Brady decision to insert creationism into the public school science curriculum? Conservatives are often supportive of evangelical activities. I haven't seen any discussion of this in stories on Brady's candidacy. Maybe it is something not many people care about. As an old reporter who went on to work as a science writer, medical writer and editor of a medical journal, I think it should be brought into the open and talked about. If we want kids to learn about science and the scientific method, teaching them Bible stories is not the way to do it.

  • I didn't mean to imply that Democrats have the exclusive franchise on jerkisms. I'd say that they come in about equal proportions on both sides. Quinn, however, is a special case, because of his frequent and life-long claims of political purity. I believe that in his mind, his political domain remains pure.

    My view on creationism being taught in public or private schools are (can I say it?) nuanced. I'll probably post on it when the opportunity presents.

    Might we have crossed paths as young reporters?

  • I don't recall that we crossed paths, Dennis. Unlikely, unless you worked for the Omaha World-Herald, Mimnneapolis Star-Tribune, strung in Mexico City for the Dallas Times-Herald, or worked in Washington, D.C. for a professional society. After those years, I was no longer a young reporter. I also went back to school and got a degree in medical writing. I'm a strong advocate of science education and science literacy.

  • The issue with Quinn is that his "being a reformer" was always phony, going back to him taking credit for doing away with cumulative voting, resulting in the mess the legislature is today.

    The only news is the Teamsters' campaign revelation.

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    Chicago Tribune contributing op-ed columnist and author of forthcoming historical novel, "Madness: The War of 1812." Reporter, editor and columnist for Chicago Sun-Times and Chicago Daily News. Freelance writer and editor.

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