Tuesday, August 02, 2005
Out of the Loop, Indeed.
It's a paradox. I usually describe where I live as "Fifty miles out of the Chicago Loop."
I travel a lot, so the usual opener is, "Where do you call home?" Once, while distracted by something else going on, I shortened it to "Fifty miles out of the Loop," which was met with great laughter.
In searching for an appropriate name for this blog, it occurred to me that there is nothing more appropriate than to name it after the sentiment most projected by the man second in line to the Presidency. He always seems to be out of the loop. This epiphany occurred when someone I met described himself as "lonely as a Democrat in Nebraska." When I described myself as "lonely as one of the 11 Democrats in Denny Hastert's district," my Nebraska friend responded, with a quizzical look, "How in the world did THAT happen?"
I knew exactly what he meant.
The Speaker of the House, Dennis Hastert, or "The Coach," as he is known all over northern Illinois, is very popular in his district. A couple years ago, he moved a ways down the road to a little hovel on 192 acres near the town of Plano, Illinois. Plenty of room for the large, antique car collection, we hear.
And rumor has it that he paid cash for the property. It's nobody's business, from what his spokesmen tell you. All undisclosed. All "spokesmen," too.
"Denny" grew up in the little town of Oswego, the oldest son of a local merchant and restaurant owner. In these parts, and in those days, that was privilege. The better known (and shorter) story of his humble beginning as a successful wrestling coach at a small town high school is a great cover for a middle class guy who used to sleep in his classroom during tests, and who later cashed in on a career in politics.
He has been a great front man for what his Republican colleagues now cynically call the party of Lincoln. A big, 300-lb., affable lug. Shucks. He's known as a quiet back-room dealer who shuns the limelight.
Hastert has been carrying water for the real speaker, Tom DeLay (that's French, isn't it?) and every corporate interest looking for a seat at the table of power for years. But he's the first to play dumb when it comes time to answer for his actions.
A great example of this is when the Illinois Republican Party, which has been in shambles since the late 90s, voted to draft stark-raving lunatic Alan Keyes as a candidate for the U.S. Senate, Hastert claimed he was out of town that day. Not at the meeting. Nope. No Coach. Didn't even know they were going to draft someone that day. Wasn't invited.
We all were born yesterday, right?
So it really is quite a paradox, no? Hastert claims he's out of the loop when the GOP goes over the top (OK, so that's his daily schtick). The press gives him a pass saying he's the quiet, back-room dealer who doesn't like all the attention. And we're the ones who are out of the loop. Did anyone reading this think it was OK when the debt ceiling was raised, when we went over $4 trillion in debt? Anybody reading this think the Speaker of the House of Representatives was supposed to be a mute rubber stamp for any president?
Remember: common criminals don't like attention, either.
Chances are pretty slim that this district will ever elect a non-Republican (it hasn't happened since the Civil War). But Paul Hackett's four months in politics sure scared the living hell out of Republicans across the country tonight.
If he wants to be known as "The Coach," that's fine with me. But we should fire this coach. He's a loser and he's putting all of us further and further out of the loop every single day he's in government.