The [Tuesday] Papers
Dick Durbin, Illinois' senior United States senator - you know, the one who isn't Barack Obama - took to the well of the Senate recently and gave what some, including myself, considered an astounding speech about how the information he was given before the Iraq War as a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee differed from what the administration was telling the public. Durbin appeared to be saying members of the Intelligence Committee knew the administration was lying but remained duty-bound by their committee vows of secrecy to not inform the country that we were being led to war on false premises.
Durbin's dilemma has since been discussed in a variety of forums, including the Tribune's Washington, D.C., blog, in radio interviews featuring Durbin himself, in the conservative press, and the liberal blogosphere.
Today, the Tribune publishes Durbin's response to a Dennis Byrne column last week as a letter to the editor in which Durbin says that, contrary to Byrne's claim, this is the ninth time he has spoken about this issue on the Senate floor - that he's not just springing this on us right now.
I haven't had time to research this further, but it's certainly ripe for further exploration by our hometown press, not only because of its inherent relevance to (amazingly) still unanswered questions about how we ended up in this war, but because, well, you know, Durbin is an Illinois senator who is only the No. 2 Democratic in that august chamber. He is of national import. (Some might argue that in a different political culture, he would have much more claim based on experience, knowledge, and leadership ability to be a presidential candidate than his junior partner.)
"What the public was told and what the Intelligence Committee was told in closed session were not inconsistent. The difference is that the committee was told both sides of the story and the Bush administration was giving intelligence information to the American people selectively," Durbin says in his letter to the Tribune, which isn't quite as fiery as his Senate oration.
"As to the allegation that I didn't do enough to stop this war, I was one of 23 senators who voted no and offered an amendment in the Senate that would have limited military action unless the administration could show that Iraq was an imminent threat to our nation," he also wrote.
"But my amendment was defeated, derided as unpatriotic and dangerous by conservative commentators and talking heads - some of the same people who today are saying those of us who opposed this war should have done more."
Liberal commentators and talking heads too.
"It is difficult to discuss Axelrod in certain circles in Chicago without the matter of the Blair Hull divorce papers coming up. As the 2004 Senate primary neared, it was clear that it was a contrast between two people: the millionaire liberal, Hull, who was leading in the polls, and Obama, who had built an impressive grass-roots campaign. About a month before the vote, the Chicago Tribune revealed, near the bottom of a long profile of Hull, that during a divorce proceeding, Hull's second wife filed for an order of protection. In the following few days, the matter erupted into a full-fledged scandal that ended up destroying the Hull campaign and handing Obama an easy primary victory.
"The Tribune reporter who wrote the original piece later acknowledged in print that the Obama camp has 'worked aggressively behind the scenes' to push the story.
"But there are those in Chicago who believe that Axelrod had an even more significant role - that he leaked the initial story. They note that before signing with Obama, Axelrod interviewed with Hull. Axelrod swears up and down that 'we had nothing to do with it' and that the campaign's televison ad schedule was long planned."
So is Axelrod calling the Tribune reporter a liar?
STEPHANOPOULOS: Valerie Jarrett, a good friend of the family, says you told her in your Senate race, "I just think I have some special qualities and wouldn't it be a shame to waste them?"
OBAMA: That - I think I probably did say that.
STEPHANOPOULOS: What are they?
OBAMA: I think that I have the capacity to get people to recognize themselves in each other.
Commenter Don on the Trib's The Watcher blog, Feb. 20: "The phrase ('jump the shark') is so tedious and ubiquitous that even the joke that claiming that the phrase 'jump the shark' has jumped the shark has, in itself, jumped the shark (and the thing I just said is darn close to doing the same thing)."
I also caught Laurence Holmes filling in last week for Terry Boers on Boers and Bernstein over at The Score and I have to say Holmes brought a new and welcome energy to the proceedings.
"[W]ittingly or not, Blagojevich has given great cover to backers of alternative plans including income tax hikes: Next to him, they now look like cautious, reasonable, flexible, job-friendly, fair-minded and brave Solons who know a good tax from a bad tax," Eric Zorn writes this morning.
"Blago the fox? Maybe so.
"But if he ends up botching this opportunity to reform our broken system, it won't matter either way. Playing the fool or not, he'll still be a fool."
Ald. Toni Preckwinkle (4th) wanted to set it at $60,000; Billy Ocasio (26th) wanted to set it at $49,848, which is the median income in his ward.
Get the background here from the Reader's Mick Dumke, who ended his piece last Friday on the issue this way:
"In a Q & A with reporters afterward, Mayor Daley dodged questions about whether his affordable-housing amendment went far enough to address the city's shortage. 'This is a very good ordinance,' he insisted. Asked if its introduction had been timed to avoid debate in the new council, he snapped, 'No,' then moved on to a question about how much he'd miss Dorothy Tillman's hats."
A) New product to be called Splequal.
But running the CTA more efficiently isn't the answer and we all know it. What isn't clear is if Huberman is an innovator. As co-host Dane Placko said to Huberman after an impressive riff about the importance of mass transit as a subsidized entity: "That argument has been heard time and again."
(Placko, by the way, related that his 20-minute ride to work downtown on the Blue Line now takes 40 minutes.)
Just like we've known for years that the state is going to have raise income taxes to solve its budget problems and help fund education, we know that transit in Chicago requires regional cooperation and a long-term funding commitment. There are just certain things we know that the political system will eventually have to accommodate - gay marriage may also be one - but seems designed to screw up for a designated period of time until persistence and necessity pay off.
Anyway, on those rare mornings when I tune in to Fox Sunday Chicago, I always regret not doing so more often. Placko and co-host Jack Conaty are informative and aggressive interviewers certainly not cowed or wowed by the public officials they bring on. And they get quite a few.
Aside from Huberman, Placko and Conaty cross-examined Ald. Tom Allen (38th) on property taxes, and interviewed former teachers union president and now-again candidate Deborah Lynch.
And, oh yeah, the governor. I almost forgot. Rod Blagojevich himself went on live and tried to portray himself as the bravest and loneliest man in the state taking on powerful lobbyists who want to defeat all the programs he wants to bring to us.
Blagojevich can be impressive in these forums; he is a lousy governor but usually slick as all get out in front of the cameras. Still, Conaty pressed the governor on his relationship with state senate president Emil Jones (D-ComEd), the man standing at the legislative gate in Springfield (along with House leader Mike Madigan), and particularly zeroed in on the electricity rate increase which Jones favors and the governor says he's against.
I'd like to see the mayor appear every week, but I know that's too much democracy to ask for. Maybe someday. After all, Eddie Vrdolyak has been indicted and Splenda has settled with Equal. Dreams can come true.
The Beachwood Tip Line: Dream. Plan. Track.
2. From Kent Green:
3. From Margaret Burke:
Posted on May 15, 2007
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