Sunday, September 6, 2009

“…FOR WE KNOW YOU HAVE SAND, ILLINOIS, RAH! RAH!...” (I can’t explain it either, but that’s what the song says.)


The following is a response I sent to John Kass, ace political columnist for the Chicago Tribune, to a column he wrote today (i.e., Sunday, 9/6/09) that touched on the “clouting” “scandal” at the University of Illinois. Loyal readers will see that my response to John contains elements from my two past posts on the U of I: “WE ARE LOYAL TO YOU, ILLINOIS…” (6/8/09) and “…WE'RE ORANGE AND BLUE, ILLINOIS, WE'LL BACK YOU SO STAND 'GAINST THE BEST IN THE LAND…”:


Hi John,

In your 9/6/09 column recounting your breakfast with our distinguished governor (no relation), you stated, concerning the U of I “clouting” “controversy”:

“And once those heads (of the U of I’s president and chancellor) thunk and began rolling, Quinn will get the credit and the voters may forget his earlier indecision.”

I don’t know whether this was a statement of normative philosophical preference, i.e., these heads SHOULD roll, or a positive political prediction, i.e., these heads WILL role. Either way, it deserves comments.

If this is a statement of normative philosophical preference, why should the trustees be replaced (except, of course, for those whom the governor did not have the courage to replace) and the president and chancellor lose their jobs for responding to political pressure while those who exerted the pressure walk? This doesn’t sound like something the John Kass I know and like would favor! Mikva says his commission gave the politicians a pass because they will have to answer to the voters. But does anyone believe that the typical citizen, whose mind has been turned into silly putty by near constant exposure to the cotton candy for the mind that emanates from the television set, will remember any of this when election time comes? Most people can’t name their congressman, let alone their state legislators. It seems that if the pressurees have to pay for the U of I clouting “scandal,” surely the pressurers should pay. Try to imagine, for a moment, the hearings that would have been conducted had our legislators had the stones to address the U of I problem itself instead of passing the buck to a phony commission, and you will get the utter inanity of firing the administrators and trustees while letting the politicians skate:

Trustee (or administrator): “Sir, I was only responding to a request, and it was more like a demand or a threat, from the people who control a huge chunk of our budget. I had little choice when you and your colleagues put the arm on me to admit the imbecile progeny of some big time contributor to your campaigns.”

Legislator: “How dare you, sir, cave in to the pressure I and my colleagues put on you! You should be fired!”

If your statement was a positive political prediction, rather than a normative philosophical statement, do you really think the voters of Illinois are shocked or surprised that clout was exercised (in Illinois of all places!) to admit a relative handful of marginally qualified students to the University of Illinois? Do you think the Governor’s handling of this situation, one way or the other, will really matter in the upcoming gubernatorial race? After all, these are the voters who keep electing the bi-partisan kleptocracy that runs this state.

Thanks, John.

Mark Quinn

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