October 12, 2006

In Illinois, ideology and principle are for saps

Dennis Byrne explains why while Hastert's actions surrounding the Foley scandal may seem a mistake or even scandalous itself, all he's doing is practicing politics Illinois style, where ideology and principle are for saps and do-gooders and there's no difference between the Republicans and Democrats, and where corruption is never to be discussed, loyalty viciously enforced, and the almighty dollar rules over all.
Pundits glued to their Potomac seats, applying their usual Beltway explanations for everything that happens in America, would have it that House Speaker Dennis Hastert bollixed up the House page scandal because he is an unredeemed Republican partisan. Or that he doesn't care enough about congressmen hounding boys. Or that his conservatism made him do it.

Blind partisanship, moral failings, hypocrisy, gay bashing or any of those other explanations that don't come close to the reality that Hastert was simply doing politics as it is practiced here, in Illinois.

Hastert knows no other way, having been bred, born and raised in the tradition. Even finding himself elevated to the nation's third highest office hasn't cleansed him. His handling of the Mark Foley transgressions is how he and pols in Illinois handle everything.

How to explain to Time, NPR, Washington Post, New York Times, network news, the McLaughlin Group and others whose elucidations have missed the mark?

First, in Illinois, politics is not to be confused with ideology or principle. Memory searches in vain for the last time that Illinois pols acted on ideology or principle. (When I say Illinois, I also mean Chicago; Illinois politics is the spawn of Chicago politics.) Ideology and principle are for saps, losers and do-gooders. To accuse Hastert of betraying his conservative principles in the Foley run-up is to suggest that he botched the affair because he wears brown shoes. There's simply no connection.

Second, forget partisanship. National commentators who are overheated by partisan politics will scorn that. But if Foley had been a Democrat and even if it was in Hastert's power to ride him out of town, I dare say the Speaker would have acted no differently.

Think of it this way: In football, two teams--the blues and reds--are on the on the field. In Illinois politics, there's only one team; everyone else is a spectator. "Playing ball" in Illinois politics is no metaphor. Party labels here are only useful to describe which door you enter--Democratic or Republican--to share the feast in the same banquet hall. Chicago Tribune columnist John Kass insightfully calls this arrangement the Combine.


At 10/12/2006 6:59 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

TID, where is your post about Blago's fundraising issues?

At 10/12/2006 2:03 PM, Blogger The Inside Dope said...

Anon 6:59

You're supposed to write one and submit it by e-mail. If it checks out we can use it.

Otherwise, the story is too complex and unresolved to write about.

I'm sure you're asking the press where their stories are on the issue too, as I haven't seen any lately.

Again, if you're hot on the issue and know all the particulars, write it up and send it along. Maybe we could use it.

At 10/15/2006 9:56 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I sincerely hope that the "buck stops here" with Hastert getting a beating at the polls.

This corrupt leadership is smelly at all levels in the Republican party and it's time for a change.


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