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Quinn on the White Sox, “sacrifice,” governing

Friday, Jan 23, 2009

* My Sun-Times column

Lt. Gov. Pat Quinn is a different breed of White Sox fan.

“My heart is big enough for two teams,” the lifelong Sox fan said Thursday.

What?

No hate?

No taunting the North Side minor league team’s fans about their 100-year championship drought?

“I want Cubs fans to know they’ll get a fair shake from me,” Quinn said, referring to the fact that he’ll almost certainly be governor in a matter of days — once the Illinois Senate finishes Rod Blagojevich’s impeachment trial and removes him from office.

Quinn will take office at the worst possible time. Not only has the government been run by criminals for at least the last 10 years, but the state budget is facing its worst crisis since the Great Depression, and the state’s economy has been badly damaged by the worst recession since, well, the Great Depression.

Quinn pledges openness, respect for the process and confidence in the citizenry. The bar was set so shockingly low by Blagojevich that Quinn will easily achieve progress in all three of those areas.

But will it be enough?

Quinn’s history shows he will give it his best shot. The cause of political reform and putting more power into the hands of voters has literally been his life’s work. He has regularly consulted with the legislative leaders while awaiting his likely ascension, which is something Blagojevich has almost never done.

Quinn said Thursday that the best way to help the economy right now is to stimulate consumer spending.

“I don’t know if that was the best game plan to follow,” Quinn said of Gov. Jim Thompson’s income tax increase proposal during the deep recession of 1982-83. A tax increase would likely curtail that all-important consumer spending.

Even so, Quinn said paying the state’s bills and avoiding layoffs of state workers are both key to preventing further economic backsliding. And for that, he will probably need more revenue sources.

“It’s a demanding time when we might all have to make sacrifices. I see people do that all the time,” Quinn said.

“In an economic emergency, we may have to do things differently,” he added.

“Differently” has always been Quinn’s drummer. How many politically connected fans do you know who buy season tickets in the nosebleed section?

“They’re really good seats, right behind home plate,” Quinn claimed, confusing the phrase “right behind” with “cloud level.”

“There’s a lot of good people up there,” he said when I told him one of his staffers had offered me a Quinn ticket years ago and I wouldn’t take it.

“I have no intention of leaving” the seats,” Quinn said. He has developed strong friendships with people who have tickets near his, and he won’t abandon them after he becomes governor, which could come as early as next week.

And then he tried to get the topic back onto politics and his future. “Sports of all kinds bring people together,” Quinn said, describing fans as “folks of different backgrounds with a common purpose.”

“Maybe that’s a metaphor for what we have to do in Illinois. We need to band together,” he said.

That’s gonna be tough. Fans love their teams. Illinois citizens don’t exactly love their state government these days. Persuading them to rally around Quinn’s new administration and whatever sacrifices he wants them to make might be like persuading White Sox fans to root for the Cubs to win the World Series.

But he’s a different sort of fellow, so people may see that quality and give him a chance, particularly if he starts “winning.”

He’ll never persuade me to stop hating the Cubs, however. I’ll tell you that right now.

* Semi-related…

* Sox heed Obama’s call to service

* Sox official gets close view of First Fan

- Posted by Rich Miller        

10 Comments
  1. - Old Shepherd - Friday, Jan 23, 09 @ 8:48 am:

    His heart better get big enough for three teams. I hope he doesn’t forget about all of us redbird fans down here in Cardinal Nation. We share a common hatred of the Cubs!


  2. - tc - Friday, Jan 23, 09 @ 8:57 am:

    Cardinals? Where do they play? Aren’t they in Arizona?


  3. - Leave a light on George - Friday, Jan 23, 09 @ 9:05 am:

    To all you Sox and Cardinal fans - Bite me!

    In a Christian sort of way, of course.


  4. - wordslinger - Friday, Jan 23, 09 @ 9:05 am:

    Maybe Obama can make Ozzie Special Envoy to Venezuela. He and Hugo ought to be able to work out any differences between us in a reasonable and diplomatic manner.


  5. - Secret Square - Friday, Jan 23, 09 @ 9:57 am:

    I hope this means Quinn is considering a balanced approach to budgeting which doesn’t make one group of people, one agency or one economic sector the target for all tax hikes or budget cuts. If things are as bad as you say, we are going to need both (tax increases and spending cuts).


  6. - Boone Logan Square - Friday, Jan 23, 09 @ 12:05 pm:

    I may loathe the Cubs, but given the state of the State today, I welcome someone mature enough to respect his constituents.

    That said, here’s some immature gloating. Perhaps I missed a comment about it, but how funny was watching the inaugural parade Tuesday? The Illinois float had two humanoids on it — Lincoln and the Sox mascot. Sox hat sales have gone way up the past couple of months, with sales all around the world. President Obama’s the best ambassador for the team since Reinsdorf and Einhorn chased Harry Caray off to Wrigley with SportsVision.


  7. - Capitol View - Friday, Jan 23, 09 @ 12:52 pm:

    I’m a Sox fan, but I am also tolerant of Cub supporters - I consider it “emotional charity”.


  8. - Kevin Fanning - Friday, Jan 23, 09 @ 1:43 pm:

    Rich runs on Cubs hatred


  9. - Reddbyrd - Friday, Jan 23, 09 @ 5:08 pm:

    True members of CardinalNation need not waste time or energy on the Cubs. We will always come out ahead. And now they go from a bankrupt media company to the Wall Street crowd. That seems akin to switching from the Hindenberg to the Titanic for their transportation needs.


  10. - Mighty M. Mouse - Sunday, Jan 25, 09 @ 12:45 am:

    Great Sun-Times column! As a lifelong White Sox fan, I agree with everything Rich says except that I don’t hate the Cubs, I just root for them to lose. And to be fair and give credit where credit is due, unlike the White Sox, come the end of every season the Cubs have NEVER let me down.


Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.


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