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Careful how you tread

Wednesday, Aug 25, 2010

* In politics, some things are better left unsaid, or at least said with more tact

In case you can’t watch videos, that was Republican state Sen. Kirk Dillard reacting to Gov. Pat Quinn’s appointment of Michelle Saddler as his new chief of staff. His full quote…

“While she, as an African-American, Asian woman, is a political choice, it remains to be seen if she can govern state government.”

The video comes from Quinn’s campaign, which is why we see that over the top video headline. The Quinn campaign’s response…

“When we talk about the political games the Brady Bunch plays, this is what we mean. Governor Quinn chose the most capable person to fill the position of Chief of Staff as he continues to guide our state through this difficult economic period.

“But Republicans never stop doing the political calculus and trying to divide the electorate. The Brady Bunch’s craven calculations should offend every woman and person of color in this state, as well as anyone who believes in good government over divisive wedge politics.”

There’s no getting around the fact that Pat Quinn is doing poorly with African-Americans and is likely desperate to win them back and that Ms. Saddler’s race was part of his calculus. But one sure-fire way to help Quinn out is to give his campaign an opportunity to play the race card. Quinn needs to motivate his base. This kind of stuff will do it. If Saddler was a hack, that might be one thing. But she’s not, even if some folks despise Episcopalians and whatnot.

I talked to Dillard a few minutes ago and he pointed out that Saddler started her press conference by pointing out her ethnic heritage and said he was approached by some black reporters who asked specifically about her race. But, he said, he understood the point and said he wished her well and thought she was a good choice, “governmentally as well as politically.” Kirk is a decent guy and I know he meant no harm, but you gotta think before you speak in this business.

* Mark Brown sums up our current situation quite well

It might have been helpful for Quinn to explain what specific steps his office takes to keep the political and government sides separate. Would he really have us believe there is no campaign input into the planning of what he does as governor, or is the truth more that his staff takes care not to conduct political business using state phones or computers?

To the extent an absolute separation is true in Quinn’s case, it could go a long way toward explaining why nobody can figure out his re-election message.

When Quinn took over as governor, I said I thought he would be the right guy to lead Illinois in Blagojevich’s wake, and as far as calming the waters, maybe he has been better than the alternatives. But unfortunately, despite his good intentions, he hasn’t shown he can govern effectively.

Even more unfortunate is that there’s no reason to believe his Republican opponent would be any better.

Nobody can figure out Pat Quinn’s message because he doesn’t have one. Other than that, Brown’s right.

* Related…

* Governor Quinn’s Opponents React to Firing of Inspector General

* Brady: Quinn owes better explanation about firing

* Quinn names new chief of staff following e-mail resignation

* Quinn Appoints New Chief of Staff

* Illinois Gov. Quinn names new chief of staff

* Quinn replaces chief of staff

* Quinn Considered Disciplining Stermer with Suspension

* Quinn praises ex-chief of staff Jerry Stermer but let him resign

* Quinn names new chief of staff

* ‘Gotcha’ politics not getting us anywhere

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* School chief: Ill. will improve even without grant

* Keep racing

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* Start now to find and cut state fat

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - wordslinger - Wednesday, Aug 25, 10 @ 11:26 am:

    To borrow from Fitz, guys like Paul Powell, Orville Hodge and Len Small are rolling — with laughter — in their graves over EmailGate. What a silly episode.

  2. - roscoetom - Wednesday, Aug 25, 10 @ 11:28 am:

    If you think the Black community won’t be there for Quinn,, you should have seen the monster crowd Dorthy Brown brought out for Sheila Simon last night on the southside. With many in attendance reminiscing about her dad, Simon was overwhelmed as she responded to Brown who pledged to personally bring the fight with all of the Democratic candidates everywhere they might want to go.

  3. - Obamarama - Wednesday, Aug 25, 10 @ 11:35 am:

    I am sort of baffled by Dillard’s comment. Even as a Democrat from ’round his parts I have always had the utmost respect for him.

    Is it possible he misspoke? It just doesn’t seem like him.

  4. - wordslinger - Wednesday, Aug 25, 10 @ 11:42 am:

    Dillard was speculating as to a possible political consideration in the appointment, which is not exactly over the top. He could have been more gracious as to the merit of the selection, as he was later. Sounds like he gets it. No biggie, in my mind.

  5. - Ghost - Wednesday, Aug 25, 10 @ 11:43 am:

    Quinn has a message. It just takes 40 minutes to hear the whole thing, and you cant remember any of it after you hear it.

  6. - cassandra - Wednesday, Aug 25, 10 @ 11:43 am:

    Well, she is a political choice. All these high-level appointments are. She also has terrific experience and credentials and is extremely personable. Dillard betrays his age with these types of comments. It’s the 21st century. Obama won. We’re a real mutliethnic society. Read the demographic reports.

  7. - Downstate Illinois - Wednesday, Aug 25, 10 @ 11:44 am:

    Every time Blago appointed someone who was not a white male, the headline in the news release managed to mention their race, gender, and if appropriate (which it never was), their sexual orientation.

    It’s the Democrats who spend more time picking people for those reasons than the Republicans.

    I rather governors pick the best person for the job. If that’s a left-handed paraplegic lesbian Korean Jew fine. Just show that’s she’s the right person for the job based on her experience and qualifications.

  8. - Wensicia - Wednesday, Aug 25, 10 @ 11:44 am:

    This should be one of those “I didn’t know the mike was on” situations. Otherwise, completely stupid statement.

  9. - 47th Ward - Wednesday, Aug 25, 10 @ 11:44 am:

    I agree Obamarama. This is like Biden’s clean/articulate comment about Obama. An inelegant choice of words, yes, but not a racist or sexist remark.

    But it’s out there and Rich is right, Quinn is going to run with it. Quinn is shocked and outraged. Just ask him. He’s dying to tell us all how insensitve and hurtful Dillard’s remarks were. On behalf of someone else. Who happens to be his new chief of staff.

    This is a nonstory, a nonissue. Unless we make it into one, and I hope we don’t.

  10. - Anonymous - Wednesday, Aug 25, 10 @ 11:56 am:

    === If that’s a left-handed paraplegic lesbian Korean Jew fine. Just show that’s she’s the right person for the job based on her experience and qualifications. ===

    Hey, watch it with that left-handed stuff.

  11. - VanillaMan - Wednesday, Aug 25, 10 @ 11:58 am:

    “The Brady Bunch’s craven calculations should offend every woman and person of color in this state, as well as anyone who believes in good government over divisive wedge politics.”

    That whine shouldn’t be bottled.

  12. - (618) Democrat - Wednesday, Aug 25, 10 @ 11:58 am:

    Dillard is supporting Brady. Brady doesn’t think a woman should be paid as much as a man for doing the same job. How much more sexist can you get than that?

    Why would it surprise anyone that Dillard would make a sexist remark?

  13. - Justice - Wednesday, Aug 25, 10 @ 12:04 pm:

    Seems to me Dillard’s point was simply that Quinn selected her to garner minority votes? was he wrong in his observation? I think not.

    She seems capable and overall a good selection. Observing the political benefit of playing to the black community is no big wow in my opinion.

  14. - Rich Miller - Wednesday, Aug 25, 10 @ 12:09 pm:

    Justice, that’s not what he said. Read it again, please.

  15. - CircularFiringSquad - Wednesday, Aug 25, 10 @ 12:12 pm:

    Let’s see Dillard master Gidwitz is flirting with TPers, Dillard is ….. well you decide
    and campaign reformer StateWideTom is taking cash from a club where the entry fee is $100K
    Very interesting day

  16. - Phlegm - Wednesday, Aug 25, 10 @ 12:14 pm:

    I’m left of center, but honestly, I didn’t think the comments were so bad. Dillard suggested that political considerations played into her appointment…where’s the man bites dog headline?

    Separately, if the Quinn campaign wants to make the point that the appointment was above politics, they should stop the name-calling. The Brady Bunch? That’s just infantile.

    The lot of them sicken me.

  17. - Bill - Wednesday, Aug 25, 10 @ 12:14 pm:

    Poor Dillie!
    He was just a handful of votes from being governor. Now he is reduced to making sound bites supporting Brady and even messes that up. Take a vacation, Dill!
    Illinois voters now have to choose from among the worst and dullest instead of the best and brightest.
    It is a real tough choice and I’m still torn between Whitney and Scott Lee.
    The two “mainstream” Bozos are out off the question, of course.

  18. - Ghost - Wednesday, Aug 25, 10 @ 12:20 pm:

    Bill, you are not supporting Patti as a write in canidate?

  19. - Louis G. Atsaves - Wednesday, Aug 25, 10 @ 12:23 pm:

    I can’t make up my mind which word best describes this entire situation and the aftermath. Is it “goofy” or is it “childish?”

    “Brady Bunch?” How childish. Claiming that Dillard is the “chief spokesman” of the Brady Bunch? Can we childishly embellish some more here? And I’ll give Quinn props for the diversionary tactic, which helps him avoid answering questions about his goofy style of governing. And I’m not going to try explaining away Dillard’s comments which were clearly inelegantly stated.

    In fact, the whole thing is getting more and more childish by the second. Why accept the resignation over 3 self-reported emails out of thousands? That is absolutely goofy. We have goofs in prison over far worse actions being “rehabilitated” yet there was no hope for “rehabilitating” Stermer? (Rehabilitation in his case would be to tell him what he already knew: “Don’t do that again.” Suspend him a day? Whip him with a wet noodle?)

    Why the need for Quinn to do all kinds of research over the appropriate punishment if he accepted the resignation? That explanation falls flat and sounds goofy. Yet a reporter asked Quinn that goofy question after Quinn announced the firing? Go figure.

    The Inspector General would have been blasted for not completely checking out those three e-mails and was in a no-win situation. Thus, a stupid expensive seven month investigation over next to nothing, just to cover one’s tail. Goofy!

    Quinn, the transparent Governor, then childishly complained that the report was illegally leaked to the press. So Quinn would have taken no action if the report wasn’t leaked? Or if the Inspector General was not fired?

    If three loose or inadvertent emails can lead to an honorable or honest someone’s firing/resignation/quitting/removal, then why is Randall still heading up the Department of Corrections after the early release fiasco, which Quinn also claims astonishment?

    How is the Elect Quinn for Governor campaign isolated from the Day to Day Business of the Office of the State of Illinois? Those recent air fly arounds Rich brought up seem to answer: “Not much” to the isolation question.

    I know the popular thing to do is to populate state agencies and state offices with “Inspector Generals” to root out corruption but in these hard economic times, are they really necessary? Warm and fuzzy headlines aside, are they rooting out tons of evil to benefit the taxpayers of Illinois, or to cover at least their salaries and perks? What “corruption” have they exactly rooted out in the past decade? How about during the Blagojevich era? The Quinn era? The Ryan era?

    All the while, the best cross-examination/interview of former Governor Blagojevich (D-11-1) occurs on a COMEDY NEWS CAST by a comedian who plays the role of a newscaster!

    Who the heck would want to work for the State of Illinois and subject themselves to all of that childish goofiness?

    Can this State get any goofier? Or is it can this State get any more childish?

  20. - Louis Howe - Wednesday, Aug 25, 10 @ 12:27 pm:

    Dillard’s comments are a non-issue, and more important for Quinn, an unproductive diversion from Quinn’s main task—establishing the perception in voters minds that he can do the job as Governor. After speaking with a few of his campaign staff recently, I personally think Quinn is delusional and his campaign hopelessly lost.

  21. - Elder - Wednesday, Aug 25, 10 @ 12:29 pm:

    Michelle Saddler is a deeply competent, hard working, and extraordinarily gracious person. She has a lifetime of experience in management positions, but this particular job would singe the hair off the toes of even the toughest hobbit. Oh, and incidentally she is half African American and half Filipino, which may be a political asset but is irrelevant to her qualifications for the job. Sen. Dillard opens mouth, inserts foot!

  22. - Gregor - Wednesday, Aug 25, 10 @ 12:31 pm:

    Springfield = Rock Ridge.

    “More beans, mister Taggart?”

  23. - Phlegm - Wednesday, Aug 25, 10 @ 12:36 pm:

    Can anyone understand why it would take 7 months to investigate a self-reported e-mail? It would seem that if Stermer admitted that he sent the e-mnails, the only thing left would have been to figure out if it was a violation of ethics laws (a non-brainer — it would take 15 minutes to get the correct citation) and then to write a report.

    Heck if it took the IG 7 months to write a report, he deserved to be fired.

  24. - Bill - Wednesday, Aug 25, 10 @ 12:38 pm:

    She’d probably be a better governor than Brady or Quinn but I think she’ll be too busy to serve. Beisdes I’m sure she’d rather try to earn an honest living as opposed to being governor.

  25. - Bill - Wednesday, Aug 25, 10 @ 12:40 pm:

    By the way, I hope for his sake that Quinn never told the fbi that there is a “firewall” between his political campaign and his appointments.

  26. - IMTellingYou - Wednesday, Aug 25, 10 @ 12:42 pm:

    Much ado about nothing. While I wish that a person’s race or gender or sexual preference wasn’t part of the mix when being considered for a job or appointment, the reality is that it is and on both sides of the aisle I’m afraid. The Dems have jumped the shark when claiming racism. They’ve cried wolf once too often and it’s going to take something a little more potent that this video clip to make that claim stick.

  27. - Fred - Wednesday, Aug 25, 10 @ 12:43 pm:

    While I probably wouldn’t have said that, I don’t see what the big deal is. Meh.

  28. - Wumpus - Wednesday, Aug 25, 10 @ 12:52 pm:

    Not many people care about Chief of staff. I am sure Quinn will win most of the AA vote, but it is a question of how many will actually vote.

    Nothing that comes out of Blowhard’s mouth surprises me. This is not nearly as “offensive” as Biden’s clean, articulate statement.

    More importantly, is Saddler single?

  29. - Rich Miller - Wednesday, Aug 25, 10 @ 12:55 pm:

    Most of you are reacting based on your own, personal viewpoint. That’s understandable, but politics is a whole lot more than just what you think, no matter how forcefully you think it or shout it. Keep that in mind.

  30. - Pat collins - Wednesday, Aug 25, 10 @ 12:55 pm:

    Is it possible he misspoke? It just doesn’t seem like him.

    Or is it possible we just saw a “freudian” slip? Surely not…..

  31. - MKA1985 - Wednesday, Aug 25, 10 @ 1:01 pm:

    === “But one sure-fire way to help Quinn out is to give his campaign an opportunity to play the race card.”

    I’m betting he plays that card with gusto as we get closer to November. He saw how much it helped in the primaries.

  32. - just sayin' - Wednesday, Aug 25, 10 @ 1:18 pm:

    Once again Kirk Dillard reminds us how he lost to the hillbilly.

  33. - Ghost - Wednesday, Aug 25, 10 @ 1:51 pm:

    === That’s understandable, but politics is a whole lot more than just what you think…====

    There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.

    Rich = political shakespeare?

  34. - grand old partisan - Wednesday, Aug 25, 10 @ 2:03 pm:

    Quinn’s response gives the Brady camp a perfect opportunity to move this debate over Saddler’s appointment away from the needlessly controversial implications about racial politics to his core message: the need for Illinois to foster a business climate that promotes the creation of (non-payer subsidized, permanent)* employment opportunities. Nothing that I’ve found about Saddler’s background suggests she knows how to do that, yet Quinn’s response to Dillard explicitly touts her strength in terms of being able to lead during a difficult economic period.

    *as opposed to the subsidized, temporary jobs that Saddler is so proud of creating during her tenure at DHS.

  35. - Amalia - Wednesday, Aug 25, 10 @ 2:11 pm:

    Dillard, racist and sexist. yes.

    and you could have all the Protestant denominations listed
    in red because those conservative evil sayers hate all of
    them. on behalf of all main liners, bite me conservative

  36. - Segatari - Wednesday, Aug 25, 10 @ 2:13 pm:

    If Dillard had the D by his name, no one would had said a word about this.

    just sayin’ - that was stupid thing to say. You’ve just insulted the entire city of Bloomington too.

  37. - Justme - Wednesday, Aug 25, 10 @ 2:44 pm:

    ==Governor Quinn chose the most capable person to fill the position ==

    If true, it’s proof that there’s a first time for everything. “Competent” is one word that no on can use about this administration.

  38. - Loop Lady - Wednesday, Aug 25, 10 @ 3:35 pm:

    just sayin: the hillbilly? That’s hysterical…I love it…Quinn the Wonk vs. Billy the Hillbilly…

  39. - Fred - Wednesday, Aug 25, 10 @ 3:42 pm:

    Rich, I understand what you are saying, and I personally would not have said those things on record, but it is a non-issue.

    Dillard was correct, however, when he said it is a “political pick,” because clearly it is.

    The real issues are the dismissals of Quinn’s Chief of Staff and Inspector General.

  40. - Cincinnatus - Wednesday, Aug 25, 10 @ 3:46 pm:

    I said the emails were hash browns, you know, small potatoes. Dillard’s comments are smaller than that.

  41. - Jim Ridings - Wednesday, Aug 25, 10 @ 6:05 pm:

    Who cares what Dillard said? He’s not the candidate. He’s not even a part of the campaign. He remains, as he was after the primary, a loser.

  42. - Park - Wednesday, Aug 25, 10 @ 6:43 pm:

    So when does PQ start calling his Republican opponents ‘Nazi’s’?

  43. - ILGOPGal - Wednesday, Aug 25, 10 @ 9:02 pm:

    Saddler started off the press conference touting her ethnicity. If you don’t want to get called out for it, then don’t say it. Dillard was stating the political truth that it was a wise move on Quinn’s part to hire Saddler. I think we can all agree that Dillard said what everyone else was thinking.

    I heard Dillard’s explanation tonight on the news: “Governor Quinn is way behind in
    the polls and he’s looking for any wedge issue he can find against my
    colleague but I think
    Michelle Saddler is a fine choice as Governor Quinn’s chief of staff.”

    Anyone who knows Dillard knows he’s a man of integrity and would never intend to sound disrespectful.

  44. - steve schnorf - Wednesday, Aug 25, 10 @ 11:03 pm:

    Anyone who knows Dillard knows he is as far from being a racist or a bigot as anyone can be.

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