Category Archives: elections

>REACT: Hastert loses his seat.

>Anyone who has every watched classic Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy flicks is familiar with Stan’s oft stated lament, “It’s a find mess you got us into this time, Ollie.”

Well, I say to Denny Hastert, “It’s a fine mess you got us into this time, Denny.”

You will recall from my earlier blog, I am not a great booster of the accomplishments of the former Speaker Hastert. Or shall we say, the lack there of. His allegiance to the corrupt and ineffective Illinois brand of good-ole-boy, backroom politics cost the GOP the Phil Crane seat way back when, and his own speakership along with the whole dang Congress more recently.

As if that was not enough for one career, now cometh the special election in Illinois’ 14th Congressional District –a race to replace himself. In an all too clever ploy, Hastert resigned to force a special election and presumably give a “leg up” to his anointed success. In a much more clever ploy, Governor Blagojevich called for the election to be held on a Saturday when everyone knows Republicans are at the country club playing racquet ball and debating martini mixology.

In promoting … nay … ramrodding Jim “The Milkman” Oberweis as his personal choice, Hastert must have assumed the 14th District was a “Mickey Mouse” seat for the GOP – a reference that suggests any Republican, even Mickey Mouse, would be elected. And why not, the pachyderm party has held that seat since Moses descended from Mount Ararat … uh … Mount Sinai. Ararat is where Noah beached the ark, right?. No matter. You get my point.

Actually, Oberweis is a great guy personally, but an abysmal candidate. For a variety of reasons, he has less personal shelf appeal than his ice cream. Candidates are supposed to be charmers in public and jerks in private. Oberweis has it backwards.

What makes former wrestling coach Hastert’s Olympic arm twisting on behalf of Oberweis so egregious is the fact that everyone else seemed to know that the guy is not candidate material. The previous three successive election day drubbings should have been a clue.

Looking at the numbers, it appears that defections from the GOP were as responsible for the loss as much as the advance of the Dems. He lost in the GOP precincts, including his own. Ouch! (<– I stand corrected. Bill Pascoe, of the Oberwies campaign informed me that his candidate carried his own precinct quite handsomely. My error. Ouch!)

Some say a fair share of blame has to go to the campaign team and the National Republican Congressional Committee for a poorly strategize and executed campaign. Many viewed the last minute desperation television ads as counterproductive. They seemed to seal Oberweis’ public image as a strident and pugnacious bully. There is not much worse in a campaign than spending tons of money to lose votes.

I cannot judge the culpability of the on-the-ground team and professional advisors, but those ads ended with the statement, “I am Bill Oberweis, and I approved this message.” So, I guess that is where the buck … millions of them … stops.

Because of the way this special election was (mis)handled, there is an automatic rematch in the November General Election. You know the old adage, if you do the same thing, you get the same result. There seems to be only two ways not to do the same thing. You either have Oberweiss step aside for a new candidate, or you credibly change the Oberweis persona. Note the word “credibly.” This is no simple task in the short time between now and November.

If there is to be a new candidate, it has to be a N-E-W candidate. It is not out of the realm of possibility that Hastert and Associates will use their influence to put a new brand name on the same can of peas.

When Denny left Congress, he said he would still stay active in Republican causes. I take that more as a threat than a promise. If he really wants to help the GOP, he might consider a more complete retirement.

As for Oberweis, he is a good and decent person, a great business man (love the ice cream) and a savvy investor. As far as politics is concerned, he can have a great future and do a lot of good for America… as a funder of good candidates and good causes. He can be the producer, not the leading man.

Footnote: Check out the photo of Oberweis and Hastert again. Don’t ya just love the angelic face and the halo effect? How can a face like that lose an election?

>OBSERVATION: Polling and voting … nothing in common.

>Funny how many pundits were writing Hillary Clinton’s political obituary just a few short weeks ago. It was over, and time for her to throw in the towel.

These are the same pundits who counted McCain out of the running a month or two before he took an all but unstoppable lead.

Well, if you think the pundits are the big losers in all this, just consider the pollsters. After all, they use scientific means to predict outcomes – not just educated guesses. I remember they awarded New Hampshire to Barack Obama on the eve of the election. Clinton pulled off what they called an “upset victory.” I think the pollsters were the only ones upset.

Just before Ohio and Texas, we were told that Clinton’s lead had slipped away. Obama would take Texas for sure, and maybe even Ohio. Of course Clinton won Texas and crushed Obama in Ohio.

After 40 years of watching and running campaigns, I have become a polling skeptic. Skeptic? No! I really think it is all voodoo and bull stuff. They are almost never more correct than an educated guess. I know a lot of political groupies who can predict an election outcome with a 3 to 5 point margin of error every time. (If you cannot read the cartoon, click on it for larger version)

I always wonder how the polls can wind up being wrong beyond the margin of error, as they often are. That makes the “margin of error” nothing more than empty words.

Every time the pollsters are egregiously wrong, they hid behind an unprovable claim. A “last minute shift by the voters,” they say. To which I say, “Bah humbug!” Unless there is some unprecedented occurrence in the last week, voters do not change their minds. Most are decided loooooong before Election Day, and the rest are usually locked in on a candidate at least two weeks ahead of time. The only reason polls are wrong is because they are wrong.

>OBSERVATION: Feeling blue about seeing red

>I find myself channeling Dr. Seuss:

Red state? Blue state? What are we to do, mate?
Blue state? Red state? Make me go to bed late.
More red, you dread. More blue, I rue.
Maybe in the morning we’ll find a better hue.

Blue state? Red state? More confusing than you think.
Red state? Blue state? All I want is pink
Donkeys are blue. Elephants are red.
Don’t know why, but that is what they said.

Red state? Blue state? Always in the news.
Blue state? Red state? How are we to choose?
Red means danger. Blue means sad.
Making these decisions is gonna drive me mad.

Blue state? Red State? Popping on my screen.
Red State? Blue State? Nobody voting green?
Half the country blue. Half the country red.
Turning off the TV and heading for my bed.

The question of the state colors on our national election night news maps got me thinking. When did those broadcast rascals make the switch-a-roo on the colors? In my early days in politics, the election night political maps always showed the Republican states in blue and the Democrat states in red. Sometime between then and now, the big three networks appear to have made a behind the scenes decision to switch the traditional colors. But why?

Is it possible that they just wanted to give their favored Democrat party the more positive color? I am not paranoid, and I even hate to think that those guys in New York would stoop to such a thing. It is just too petty. I mean, they entirely too busy distorting the daily newscasts to bother with such seemingly trivial graphic matters.

Or are they? My problem is that I cannot think of any other reason why they would change the colors.

It probably would not affect a specific election night outcome. But … is there a long term psychological impact? Do voters think more kindly of blue Democrats than they would or red ones?

There is no doubt that blue reflects positive American imagery. It is a cool color, and seems to be more patriotic than red. Yeah, I know red is in our flag, too. Outside of Santa Clause, however, red is a disturbing color in our culture. Everything associated with the devil and hell is red. In 1776, we fought the redcoats. Our contemporary world adversaries have been the “Reds” – the “red menace,” no less. Danger signs are red. Red Alert means an imminent terrorist attack. A Red light means an annoying stop. The Red Cross brings to mind disasters. When we are angry, we “see red.”

Blue is a peaceful color. It reminds us of patriotism. It is the color of a clear sky. The soothing blue water. The only negative connotation is feeling blue — sad.

Hmmm. Maybe that is it. You know, when I see my native state, Illinois, go blue on election night, I do get sad. As more states go blue across the nation, I can go into a total funk. So, maybe I should not be so harsh on the network bosses. Maybe they understand me. They switched the colors out of respect for my depressed state of mind — to represent sadness.