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Go Cohen!

Embattled lieutenant governor nominee Scott Lee Cohen has finally won my support. If only he wasn't tethered to his bumbling running mate.

It happened during Cohen's interview on Chicago Tonight last night when I realized that Cohen was the only one during the campaign and this ensuing episode who did his job. He didn't try to hide his past; he practically begged the media to take a look at it and get it out of the way - so just this scenario wouldn't develop.

As Cohen sat (with his ex-wife) opposite Phil Ponce, I thought to myself, Cohen should be interviewing him!

"And why, sir, did you not see fit to examine the backgrounds of the candidates running to sit within a heartbeat of the governorship?"

"What do you think about the media's failure to care about this race?"

"To what degree should we hold party chairman Michael Madigan responsible?"

"Am I any less qualified for the job than Rickey Hendon? Doesn't his background scare you?"

Let's take a look at Cohen's interview and some of the coverage in today's papers.

Cohen Tonight
"I assure you, I promise you, I never touched the woman," Cohen told Ponce of allegations made by an ex-girlfriend. "I never tried to cut her throat."

Let's remember that the accuser failed to show up in court and the charges were dropped. What do you do with that? I'm pretty sure you don't presume guilt without further corroborating evidence, but the fact is that Cohen - and his ex-wife - stated many times that he went through a dark time in his life. And that that time is long gone.

If only he had hired David Axelrod to spin his story into a redemption narrative; the press would be eating it up.


And the scares on the accuser's neck?

If she did have scars, they were done by her, Cohen said. "If we could find her, I'm sure she would say the same thing."

Cohen said her charges were retaliation for him getting her arrested for trashing his home. Anyone who watches Cops knows this is entirely plausible.


"I never knew her as a prostitute . . . I still don't believe she was a prostitute, even though she pleaded guilty to something."

This is the only part of Cohen's story that strikes me as disingenuous, though the media seems to have forgotten that not every massage therapist is a hooker.


"I understand it looks bad, and that's why I tried so hard to put it out the day I announced I was running . . . I have answered every question that was asked of me by the media."

Unlike, say, Alexi Giannoulias. But somehow he and his problems are not a disgrace to the ticket.


"I tried so hard to put this out the day I announced so it wouldn't come to this. Nobody listened . . . I will not resign. I will not step down."

You go, Cohen!

"The media is now bothering my ex-wife, my children, that's not fair to them . . . I worked hard for the people to get elected . . . I will not step down. I did nothing wrong."

That's right. I mean, what did Cohen do wrong? I'm not dismissing the serious nature of the charges against him, but unlike most pols he didn't try to hide them. I don't know that he's qualified to be governor, which is a standard you have to use for the job, but was Corinne Wood?

Hell, was Rod Blagojevich?

And is Cohen's past worse than Jim Ryan's? Ryan tried to kill a guy for a crime he didn't commit!


Yes, Cohen used steroids for awhile. He didn't lie to Congress about it.

"It was a bad time in my life, I was trying to put muscle on. It was a bad decision."

You know what? Our president "did a little blow." Welcome to Planet Earth.


I thought ex-wife Debra made the best argument: "That's not who he is now."

I have no idea if it's true, but we know who Pat Quinn is now. He appears to be going through a bad time in his life.


Debra's first push-back against Ponce: "I have not been in court dozens of times [on alimony issues]."

Pone: "We've looked at the records and it sure looks that way."

Whatever, dude!


"I don't believe I'm an embarrassment ot the ticket," Cohen said.

No, that would still be Alexi. Oh, and Joe Berrios.


About federal tax troubles, which he says are now resolved: "Business was down . . . I turned it around and built a million-dollar operation."

Sounds like just the man we need!

"I paid everyone back."

So, unlike Obama's Treasury Secretary, Cohen made good on his federal taxes before attempting to assume public office.


Ponce references the "negative reputations" of pawn shops, but it seems to me I've seen an awful lot of stories in the media over the last year about pawn shops becoming trendy during the downturn.

Maybe it's just that pawn shops are for the lower classes; the rich pay usury to Bank of America instead.


"I've been the most honest, open forthright candidate that's been out there."

And I never worked for Broadway Bank!


Debra's second push-back against Ponce: "I don't have any grandchildren, that must be a misquote from somebody."


Ponce: "The conventional wisdom is if you are on the ticket, Governor Quinn does not stand a chance of winning."

And the conventional wisdom has been so right so far.


Maybe Ponce should ask Alexi - or Quinn - if they hurt the ticket. Neither is the party's best candidate for a general election.


The Dems are playing this all wrong. They've got a a lieutenant governor nominee who is a working man whose business skills have made him rich. Yet, he's an everyday guy who understands your problems. Would you rather have him a heartbeat away from the governorship or Republican nominee Jason Plummer, a 27-year-old who didn't build a business but just stepped into his family's fortune?


You know what? There's nothing the party can do! Ride it out, Scott. History shows that Pat Quinn doesn't have the stomach for a fight. Just ask James Montgomery. (Ah, if only you were black; your place on the ticket would be sealed.)

Quinn Din
"Quinn said Cohen 'should step aside' if Cohen can't adequately explain the circumstances surrounding an October 2005 domestic battery arrest," the Sun-Times reports.

And Quinn should step aside if he can't adequately explain his early prisoner release program.


Again, I'm not diminishing the seriousness of domestic battery. I'm just sayin' . . .


Was last night adequate enough, governor? What more does he have to say for his explanation to be adequate?


In the Sun-Times, Cohen got a character reference from massage therapist Kassandra Malone, who told the paper he's a "really nice guy."

Hey, that's better than Eddie Vrdolyak getting a character reference from Brian Urlacher.


I wonder if Cohen and Urlacher have seen each other in court on child support payment issues.

Mell's Belle
"[Cohen] got some help from some veteran politicians," the Sun-Times reports. "Ald. Dick Mell (33rd) and Ald. Robert Maldonado (26th) urged voters to support him on their Web sites."

Mell also endorsed Quinn and surely turned out troops for him.


I'm sure Mell and Maldonado were attracted to Cohen for his ideas on creating jobs, not his enormous personal wealth.

My guess is that they publicly backed Cohen to bank a favor while personally believing he had no chance. Who have the characters problems in that scenario?


"Quinn said Cohen must answer questions from the public, and if he can't answer them, 'to step aside.'"

Again, why the higher standard for Cohen?

Daley's Guy
"State Sen. Terry Link (D-Vernon Hills) said he and other candidates running against Cohen tried to alert the Quinn and Dan Hynes campaigns a month ahead of the election to the prospect of a Cohen victory," the Sun-Times reports. "A Link emissary talked to Quinn's campaign manager about [Mark] Brown's column revealing that Cohen was a pawn broker with a domestic battery arrest."

Quinn's campaign manager is John Kamis.

Huh, how 'bout this . . . according to Kamis's LinkedIn profile, he was an assistant to Mayor Daley for two years before joining the Quinn campaign, working as one of his Springfield lobbyists.

Media Madness
Channel 5's Dick Johnson asked Cohen yesterday: "Why would you run with that baggage?"

Compared to whom, our presidential candidates? Our mayor?

Scott Lee Cohen has triggered some sort of delusional thinking in our media about what kind of world we're living in.


Johnson also made sure to note that Cohen doesn't have a college degree. (Cohen can do him one better; he has a GED, not a traditional high school diploma.)

Unlike all the super-smart people working in TV news.


Channel 2's Mike Flannery: "Dude!"


Flannery then called Cohen "scary."

As opposed to who, Ed Burke?


Quinn/Cohen: Worst Democratic ticket ever?


"He surprised everyone but himself in besting five candidates in Tuesday's primary," the Tribune editorial page states today.

I know this is a little bit of a nitpick, but Cohen actually revealed last night that he was surprised.

"Our guess is that the voters weren't paying much attention."

And neither were we!

"The default strategy is to try to bully Cohen off the ballot, which could be interesting to watch. Quinn said Thursday that Cohen 'has an obligation to step aside' if his past threatens to take down the ticket. The governor said he's already consulting with state party chairman Mike Madigan about how to name a replacement.

"Good luck with that. Cohen bought the voters' affection with his own money, which is no better or worse than having the party buy it for him. He doesn't have to do what Madigan says. We can't be the only ones who like the sound of that."


Comments welcome.


Posted on February 5, 2010

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