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Tribbies surprised by response

Tuesday, Oct 30, 2007

* The Tribune editorial board asked its readers on Sunday whether Gov. Rod Blagojevich should be recalled. Apparently, the ivory tower crowd doesn’t get out much because they seem surprised by the results

In a remarkable outpouring of exasperation and disgust, readers lashed out against the cascade of new tax increase proposals and the failure of elected officials to cut spending or trim patronage workers from their bloated staffs. You railed about broken campaign promises, gridlock in Springfield, legislative indifference to critical needs such as education or pension reform and the uncertainty over whether we’ll have a mass transit system come Monday. Yes, you’d like the opportunity to recall Blagojevich, you said, but why stop there? Good question.

* Now, I know that at least one member of that august body is on this site quite a bit, so there should be some comprehension of how the public feels over there. Still, this is the same edit board which professed this ignorance a while back

We might as well admit it up front: The first time we heard of the liberal blogging network known as Daily Kos was when Bill O’Reilly dissed it on his show.

To which Steve Rhodes replied

Daily Kos is only a blogging pioneer and probably the most successful political site on the entire frickin’ Internet. Did you guys sleep through the Howard Dean campaign? You do get the Internet, don’t you?

And you’re going to tell us who to vote for?

* Blog reaction was mixed to Sunday’s editorial. Archpundit

What is the Trib thinking?

Wanting to get rid of Rod Blagojevich is a natural and perfectly normal impulse for anyone paying attention, but ultimately, we are talking about the structure of state government. If you are going to have set election terms and separate branches between Executive and Legislative, the stability lost in recalls is a significant problem.

* Chicago Carless

When your most respected–not to mention most conservative–citywide daily labels the governor as “inept” and calls for the state’s founding document to be rewritten to allow for his ouster, you know the status quo is straining to its limit.

* Illinois Reason

While their gripes about Blago are familiar and I agree with several of them…

This is coming from the same paper that endorsed George W. Bush twice???

And they had to cite the conservative National Conference of State Legislatures for “research” about recalling a Guv?


* The Daily Parker

Regardless of what you think of Blagojevich’s performance, Illinois needs a recall amendment like a fish needs a bicycle.

* The Illinois Republican Party got into the act

In light of yesterday’s Chicago Tribune editorial, the Illinois Republican Party is calling on state leaders Mike Madigan, Emil Jones, Senator Barack Obama and Senator Dick Durbin to take a stand on the Tribune’s question as to whether Illinoisans should have the right to recall their statewide elected officials.

Madigan refused to take a question about that very topic yesterday.

I’m wondering what you think of the Tribune’s reaction to its own question.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - Dustin - Tuesday, Oct 30, 07 @ 9:39 am:

    Shouldn’t a Sun-Times columnist disclose that before attacking the Tribune? Just kidding. They really are out of touch.

  2. - Ghost - Tuesday, Oct 30, 07 @ 9:50 am:

    The Tribs ignorance seems feigned to me. It looks like a tool to make the st0ry seem more sensational. After all if the result is just common understanding, its not really news worthy.

  3. - Skeeter - Tuesday, Oct 30, 07 @ 9:52 am:

    I think the whole matter is sort of funny. “Tribune Editorial Concludes Prior Tribune Editorial Correct.”

    What’s next? An editorial claiming that the Tribune has the best sports coverage in the Chicagoland market?

    Nice job, Tribune. It is what we’ve come to expect from the paper that thought Burton Natarus was the best option for the 42nd Ward last February.

  4. - Cassandra - Tuesday, Oct 30, 07 @ 9:57 am:

    I think we have to look at the recall option independently of our feelings about Blago or even the state of Illinois government and politics at the moment.

    And given that a substantial body of research (and a number of recent books) demonstrate that voters do not make their voting booth choices rationally, and given the billions of dollars of
    political advertising which are spent trying to
    make sure we don’t vote rationally, it’s inevitable that we will make mistakes. Should we be compelled to live for decades with our mistakes. In a super-blue state, with a totally dead Republican party, that’s a possibility. Recall is just a tool, and would be more a threat to keep the guv and our ultra-corrupt ruling Democratic party in line. But it’s something. And we don’t have much else at this point.

    The Trib has seen decades of Democratic corruption in Chicago with little or no protest from the masses who pay for it. They’ve seen Daley plundering the middle class to build Daley-version pyramids along the lakefront and make his friends rich…again, with little or no protest. It’s reasonable for them to be surprised at the reported reaction to the recall Blago editorial, given the extreme passivity of both the Chicago and statewide electorate.

  5. - Punley Dieter Finn - Tuesday, Oct 30, 07 @ 9:58 am:

    Mega Stet Skeeter!

  6. - Mort - Tuesday, Oct 30, 07 @ 9:59 am:

    The Trib has done the perfect set-up. For so many in Chicago, it ain’t the truth until the Trib says so. Now that they’ve said it, it’s time to get this recall issue out in front. When it comes to editorial board endorsements, they’ll be lining up to say that they, too, support a recall constitutional amendment.

    I think the Trib did a pretty good job on this one. Most of us bloggers should realize that 99.999% of the elctorate are not in the loop on this.

  7. - Lula May - Tuesday, Oct 30, 07 @ 10:07 am:

    I think the Trib was surprised to see so many people paying attention to what happening in Springfield. And most of all they actually understand what’s going on and who’s doorstep this can all be laid at.
    Governing by press conference is not working.

  8. - Rob_N - Tuesday, Oct 30, 07 @ 10:15 am:

    Last night’s Carol Marin interview with 4 State Reps (2 R, 1 D, 1 R turned D) was interesting, even if predictable, when she brought up the Trib editorial.

    Rep. Froehlich promoted ConCon.

    Cassandra, your same point that any discussion of a recall needs to be looked at independent of Blagojevich was also mentioned on Chicago Tonight. One of the Repulicans rhetorically asked, ‘What happens when there’s a GOP gov that a Dem legislature doesn’t like? Are they going to force a recall?’

    That ends up wasting at lesat a year of the entire state’s life.

    Arch is right — either have a parliamentary system in which an election for everyone can be called at any time (a big waste of money) or don’t. But, California showed we shouldn’t try and do it piecemeal.

    Our legislature already has a “recall” option called impeachment. Federally, Congress can determine what is or is not an impeachable offense. Perhaps state Constitutional scholars could clarify whether or not Springfield has the same discretion. (Certainly if Blago gets convicted of something impeachment ought to be the order of the day.)

  9. - Ghost - Tuesday, Oct 30, 07 @ 10:17 am:

    I can just see the Gov, standing on his desk, looking down at his staff gathered around him, crying out in his Monarch’s voice: “Cry Havoc, and let slip the press release of war….”

  10. - jaundiced eye - Tuesday, Oct 30, 07 @ 10:24 am:

    I’d love to know what Sam Zell thinks of the Tribune editorial board … be sure and read Dean Vallas’ comment on the page devoted to readers’ reactions/opinions. And what’s with the artwork on that page? Rod in profile … brooding … forelock. Almost looks like the Lincoln Memorial in DC. Oy!!

  11. - North by Northwest - Tuesday, Oct 30, 07 @ 10:34 am:

    “Why stop there?” is the best comment from the Trib poll. If voters approve it next year, perhaps a new constitutional convention can lead to recall, referendum and term limits for legislators, especially the Four Tops. Of course, the pols and special interests will fight like hell against even the notion of giving voters a direct say in anything, but if people are mad enough, who knows?

  12. - Skeeter - Tuesday, Oct 30, 07 @ 10:58 am:

    North by Northwest,

    The voters HAD a direct say. They voted for these people. Don’t like it? Support some candidates who can win.

  13. - HGW XX/7 - Tuesday, Oct 30, 07 @ 11:01 am:

    Let’s face it, anything anyone says negative towards Blagojevich and his followers becomes the enemy. Be it his own party (the Democrats) the media, some lowly taxpayers.
    In Blagojevich’s world you DO NOT question his authority.

  14. - Patriot - Tuesday, Oct 30, 07 @ 11:02 am:

    I recently showed my ignorance by saying the Tribune was too left-leaning. I agree that the Tribune is the “ivory tower crowd.” At any rate I do not buy the Tribune because it does not represent my views and beliefs.

  15. Pingback Politics: Changing the rules to accomplish the desired results - Tuesday, Oct 30, 07 @ 11:03 am:

    […] The editors of the Chicago Tribune were apparently stunned by the response they received when they asked their readers if they believed that Governor Blagojevich should be recalled. I thought I might ask my readers what they thought. My opinion can be found in C.J.’s comment section. […]

  16. - fedup dem - Tuesday, Oct 30, 07 @ 11:05 am:

    This is what one should expect from an editorial board led by people who apparently slept through their political science classes in college. I would like to think of a better excuse for them being so clueless as to the existing proceedures for ridding ourselves of the plague known as Rod Blagojevich. Unfortunately, I am unable to come up with a better explanation.

  17. - He makes Ryan Look like a Saint - Tuesday, Oct 30, 07 @ 11:21 am:

    It would be interesing to place the issue on the primary ballot in February to see what the people of Illinois feel. I do not think it should be limited to JUST the Governor’s office, but all offices that are voted in.

  18. - Truthful James - Tuesday, Oct 30, 07 @ 11:31 am:

    Rip van Trib is just waking up in many areas. For years, nay, decades, they would not criticize the public education system. Now they are. In the intervening perod we have lost two generations of undereducated kids.

    Now cometh a call for a Blago recall. It is harder than you think to get it through the electorate.

  19. - Team Sleep - Tuesday, Oct 30, 07 @ 11:33 am:

    Rob, how is that different than what they do now? ZING!

    Seriously, though, a recall or impeachment would make an inefficient state government even worse. It took us 9 months to get through session. Medicaid payments are backed up by 6 months. There aren’t enough DCFS/DHS caseworkers and site investigator. Prison guards don’t feel safe. If recall or impeachment occurs, we would face a gridlock. And sleazy groups on both sides would pump so much money into the recall issue that we’d see a new level of spending.

  20. - VanillaMan - Tuesday, Oct 30, 07 @ 11:34 am:

    I believe in democracy and I believe in voters. We are not sheep, regardless of the number of elitist who would like us to believe otherwise. When we question the very basis of our political decisions, we are indeed lost without a compass. Fortunately 230 years of history shows that voters are smarter than most professors and know-it-alls. I’ll take voter decisions anytime over a group of self-annointed, self-righteous Puritans.

    What we have right now is a highly politicized atmosphere that is raging through Illinois like a Santa Anna fed wildfire. The man with the matches is Rod Blagojevich. As governor, he is empowered unlike any other individual in Illinois. He can either be a pyromaniac or a fire marshall. He has decided to ignor Smokey the Bear’s pleads.

    Since 2003, Blagojevich’s wildfires have simply engulfed us and they threaten our state in more ways than one. He considers them controlled burns, but he failed to understand the conditions within our state and refuses to listen. Strikingly, he continues to believe that adding more gasoline to our political conflagration will somehow end it. His brand of politics is so obsolete and so broken, it needed to be on life support when Jimmy Carter was in office 30 years ago. Blagojevich has proved unable to learn so it should come as no surprise that he he still believes that politics as he learned it in 1977 still apply in 2007. Blagojevich’s personality, coupled with his ridiculous pro-government philosophy has been as a roman candle in our current firestorms.

    Chicago is broke, Cook County is broke, and Illinois is broke. Each level of bankrupsy puts pressure on the next level, forcing each further into this bottomless pit. If our elected leaders are too paralyzed to make the difficult decisions that are needed, then they need to be immediately replaced. But Illinois does not have the recall to immediately replace Blagojevich and company.

    But there are also reasons why voters are not replacing these men, and did not in 2006. Voters are fully aware of the situation we face. They want their guy to keep their share of the shrinking pie. So they are afraid to replace them because they don’t want to be the ones who are left in the cold when reforms are brought in.

    We needed a governor, but got Blagojevich instead. But his election and re-election shouldn’t be read as a mistake by voters. Blagojevich promised and was seen by a plurality of voters as the guy who would do less damage than Jim Ryan or Topinka. We now know how wrong that was.

    Voters are no longer laughing at Mr. Blagojevich as the Chicago Tribune, Milliken University, and other polls have discovered. To those partisans who wish to attack the Tribune for their current and previous editorials, I just wish to inform them that it is their governor who has brought this upon himself, and us. And I don’t care right now about whether someone is a member of the Republican or Democratic parties. Right now, it doesn’t matter any more than if the volunteer firemen at our current political wildfires are Presbyterian or Wiccan. We just need to end these disasters and figure out how to mend our state.

    I don’t know who will be our next governor, but I do believe that if history is any guide, our next governor will have the soul of an 98-year-old accountant at an IRS hearing.

    If we are lucky.

  21. - Levois - Tuesday, Oct 30, 07 @ 11:36 am:

    I’m still for recall but I never realized there were so many arguments against. People still bring up impeachment but if people accuse recall of being a tool of the frivolous then impeachment would be too. Not liking a governor or not liking the job he’s doing I imagine wouldn’t and probably shouldn’t be grounds for impeachment.

  22. - North by Northwest - Tuesday, Oct 30, 07 @ 11:40 am:


    I agree to some extent voters get what they voted for. But party and legislative leaders do everything in their power to discourage voters who aren’t at the public trough. The laws are set up to discourage special elections, and allow the ward bosses to make decisions rather than voters (see Todd Stroger 2006). Illinois has now moved its earliest-in-the-country primary from cold March to freezing February. And the choices voters get often provide a “lesser of evils” contest.

    Referendum and recall would provide specific and ongoing accountability. It’s not an accident that the Machine politicians who domiinate our politics have made sure we have nothing resembling either, and that they can cement their positions in perpetuity with special interest money and gerrymandering without fear of term limits or viable electoral challenges.

  23. - Skeeter - Tuesday, Oct 30, 07 @ 11:51 am:


    Let’s be real: Todd Stroger won because the alternative was Peraica. Blago won because the alternative was JBT. In hindsight, it is difficult to say that the voters made the wrong choices. The GOP ran awful candidates and lost.

    You keep wanting to blame the system in some form. That’s not true in the slightest. When good candidates run, they can win. Just look at how Deb Shore beat the machine candidates, and look at 42 where Reilly beat Natarus. When the voters have good options, good things can happen.

    But when the GOP keeps tossing us losers, what are the voters supposed to do? Don’t like it? Get active and recruit better candidates.

  24. - Rob_N - Tuesday, Oct 30, 07 @ 11:55 am:

    Sleep and Levois,

    I didn’t say impeachment is a good idea as a routine matter, I said it was an option on the table.

    Levois is right in that impeachment can be twisted into a tool of the frivolous. Look at what the Republicans did in their multimillion witch-hunt against a Democratic president they didn’t like.

    The US Constitution gives the Congress (the House specifically) the right and responsibility of determining what is or is not an impeachable offense. It’s that responsibility aspect that current Democratic leadership in the US House has relied on in not beginning impeachment hearings against the current president (wrongly, IMO, but still).

    No, I don’t think simply ‘not liking a guy’ is grounds for impeachment. It’s also not reasonable grounds for a recall, if you ask me. Our leaders are, on occasion, forced to make unpopular decisions when they perceive them as being in the best interests for the long-term.

    As Republicans with forethought are now asking themselves — what happens in this blue state when a Republican governor turns unpopular and the citizens have the right to a recall? (Answer: The same thing a wealthy Republican, Darrell Issa, did to California Gov. Gray Davis.)

  25. - HGW XX/7 - Tuesday, Oct 30, 07 @ 12:01 pm:

    The Truth can be adjusted. That is exactly what is happening as we blog.
    - Oppressive Regime

  26. - Leroy - Tuesday, Oct 30, 07 @ 12:09 pm:

    Isn’t the Trib just scapegoating Blago, and overlooking the rest of the sorry mess that is Illinois politics?

    And if so, aren’t they just protecting the corrupt?

  27. - Anon - Tuesday, Oct 30, 07 @ 12:14 pm:

    The deeper meaning of the outpouring to the Trib is that leigislators (up to an including Mike Madigan) who think they are going to skate by this voter rage come next election had better rethink things. When the police paddywagons pull up to the brothel, they take the good girls along with the bad ones, no matter what excuses are stated.

  28. - Huh? - Tuesday, Oct 30, 07 @ 12:27 pm:

    HGW XX/7 - I disagree with your assertion that the Truth can be adjusted. Stating that the Truth can be adjusted is situational ethics and shaky at best.

    I had a fomer supervisor who’s favorite line was that “the truth changes.” To say the least, I was uncomfortable with him. I never knew how things were going to be changed to fit his pecular frame of reference.

    Truth does not change. How people interpert it changes. That is a whole different argument

  29. - Northside Bunker - Tuesday, Oct 30, 07 @ 12:43 pm:

    Maybe a better way of saying it can be “The Truth can be manipulated”.

  30. - Team Sleep - Tuesday, Oct 30, 07 @ 1:04 pm:

    Skeeter, I think JBT was an infinitely better candidate than Blago. Yes, I am a Republican, but I disagreed with her on many issues - but I still realized four more years of fun with Rod wasn’t worth not supporting Judy. How can you think Blago was so much better? Were his first four years so great that he deserved another four years? I don’t think he deserved a new “social contract” and I think a good deal of the voters understand a mistake was made.

    That being said, the “majority” made the mistake and now we have to live with it. Impeachment may be necessary if Rod explicitly breaks the law, but even then would counsel recommend removing him from office?

  31. - Skeeter - Tuesday, Oct 30, 07 @ 1:15 pm:

    “How can you think Blago was so much better?”

    I never that. I said “In hindsight, it is difficult to say that the voters made the wrong choices.”

    The voters spoke. The voters knew elections come only every four years, and made the choice.

  32. - Rich Miller - Tuesday, Oct 30, 07 @ 1:16 pm:

    I really don’t believe they could change the terms of the governor’s, um, term, midterm.

  33. - Skeeter - Tuesday, Oct 30, 07 @ 1:20 pm:

    At risk of digressing from the original Trib bashing, I seem to recall the far right in Illinois being so upset with JBT that they decided to stay home.

    Yet another fine decision by the Illinois Review crowd.

  34. - Squideshi - Tuesday, Oct 30, 07 @ 2:04 pm:

    Archpundit wrote, “If you are going to have set election terms and separate branches between Executive and Legislative, the stability lost in recalls is a significant problem.”

    Dictatorships are usually pretty “stable” but I don’t think that should be the determining criteria here. If people want to remove/fire an elected official that they elected/hired, they should be able to do so whenever they so desire.

    “Regardless of what you think of Blagojevich’s performance, Illinois needs a recall amendment like a fish needs a bicycle.”

    Yeah, why give the public what they actually want. What do people think this is–a DEMOCRATIC republic? (Sarcasm added.)

    “In light of yesterday’s Chicago Tribune editorial, the Illinois Republican Party is calling on state leaders Mike Madigan, Emil Jones, Senator Barack Obama and Senator Dick Durbin to take a stand on the Tribune’s question as to whether Illinoisans should have the right to recall their statewide elected officials.”

    Double, triple, super Kudos to the Illinois Republican Party on this. Now they just need to support the full democracy package–initiative, referendum, AND recall.

    Rob_N wrote, “Arch is right — either have a parliamentary system in which an election for everyone can be called at any time (a big waste of money) or don’t. But, California showed we shouldn’t try and do it piecemeal.”

    That is not what it means to have a parliamentary system. A parliamentary system is one in which the legislature selects the head of government (i.e. President, Prime Minister, etc.) rather that the public directly. In a parliamentary system, it is the legislature that can “recall” the head of government, not the public; so we’re talking about two different things here.

    Rob_N wrote, “Our legislature already has a “recall” option called impeachment. Federally, Congress can determine what is or is not an impeachable offense.”

    That is not a proper use of the word “recall.” Recall is different from impeachment. Impeachment requires the commission of some offense. Recall simply recognizes that elected officials SERVE at the pleasure of the public and that the public–the same authority that elected/hired the official–can recall/fire an elected official when and if that official ceases to perform well.

    Skeeter wrote, “The voters HAD a direct say. They voted for these people.”

    So what? People have direct say in things all the time–that doesn’t automatically mean that they should be limited from changing their minds. It’s impossible to know if a candidate will really do the things that they promise in an election campaign, so recall is an important check to ensure that they do.

  35. - Rob_N - Tuesday, Oct 30, 07 @ 2:41 pm:

    Semantics Squideshi.

    Arch was talking about the ability of the legislature to call an election whenever it saw fit (or the political pressure to do so grew too great to ignore).

    As for “recall” vs “impeach” … you pretty much echoed my point when you wrote: “In a parliamentary system, it is the legislature that can “recall” the head of government, not the public; so we’re talking about two different things here.”

    Yes, the lege does the “recalling” — but given the popular (as in, from the populace), across-the-board will to see Blago removed the public’s representatives in the lege may be wise to pay heed. That said, I highly doubt they will.

    As for “giving the people what they want” … consider the flipside to that coin. Providing a recall mechanism to the electorate also means providing every single individual voter with the power to force a recall — anytime, repeatedly, and ad infinitum.

    That is what Arch was talking about when he was discussing stability.

    If folks think nothing got done this year, imagine what life would be like under constant recalls (not even just threat of a recall, but actual recalls). We would have provided ourselves with a real, live reason to govern by press conference 24/7.

    And it doesn’t matter if the party in power is Green, Constitution, Repub, Dem or whatever. Each party has its opponents and it only takes 1 of those opponents to initiate a recall effort and hold the entire state hostage. Talk about anarchy…

  36. - Pat collins - Tuesday, Oct 30, 07 @ 3:20 pm:

    far right in Illinois being so upset with JBT that they decided to stay home.

    Yours truly left the gov spot blank. And I am glad I did. People like a Blue state, let them see what it’s like when the state is run like Chicago.

  37. - Rob_N - Tuesday, Oct 30, 07 @ 3:48 pm:


    Just because “Democrats” elected to office have abandoned Democratic principles doesn’t mean those values are flawed in the first place… Or do you think Republican “values” are flawed after years of high-debt credit spending; lying our country into a war; Abramoff money laundering and Foley/Vitter/Craig sex scandals?

    Sorry for going OT, Rich.

  38. - Pat collins - Tuesday, Oct 30, 07 @ 4:40 pm:

    No, it’s simple self interest. If the incumbents make a mess of things, the other side gets a chance to make a change.

    See LA and Gov. Jindal as an example. NB this may mean a change in those UNABLE to make a credible alternative to the incumbents, THEN the incumbents.

  39. - Rob_N - Tuesday, Oct 30, 07 @ 4:58 pm:

    Pat, we’re talking about different things. You’re talking politics. I’m talking values.

  40. - Captain America - Tuesday, Oct 30, 07 @ 6:19 pm:

    What we have,in terms of citizen reaction/outrage, is a soon-to-be full-fledged Proposition 13/Howard jarvis taxpayer revolt instigated by the Daley and especially the Stroger adminstration’s tax increase proposals. Stroger’s billion dollar request may be the straw that broke the camel’s back - otherwise known as the tipping point.

    It’s a real opportunity for Republicans to get back in the game.

  41. - Disgusted - Tuesday, Oct 30, 07 @ 10:21 pm:

    I’ve been a reader of the Tribune for at least 23 years and I have never seen them ignore an issue for so long as they have the Governor’s failure to govern. I kept waiting to see if they had any editorial comments, anything, to inform their loyal Chicago readers (I’m living downstate). Nothing since his first election ever appeared, even after every political publication and blog in the state was railing against him. I guess it’s better late than never, but a word or two about his picadillos prior to his reelection would have helped the ill-informed.

    Next time, folks, let’s forget about flash, looks, fancy speeches and the money pile. Let’s look at good, solid people who can get the job done and who don’t spend every day constantly campaigning and smirking for the cameras. And I don’t care if he or she is bald as a cue ball.

  42. - steve schnorf - Wednesday, Oct 31, 07 @ 3:13 pm:

    Silly poll, silly answers, silly reaction

    Why don’t they do a similar one on a question where they don’t know the answer ahead of time, like “Do you enjoy paying taxes?” Then they could editorialize that taxes should be abolished. Makes as much sense.

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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