Last-minute thoughts on last-minute cam­paign leaks

Chicago Tribune (Sunday) - - NEWS - Lis­ten to “The Chicago Way” pod­cast with John Kass and Jeff Car­lin — at www.wgn­ra­dio.com/cat­e­gory/wgn­plus/thechicagoway. jskass@chicagotri­bune.com Twit­ter @John_Kass

I won­der if some re­porter will get the oppo-re­search on the can­di­date and the baby sit­ter?

Which can­di­date or party? Who knows? Does it mat­ter? It could be any­body, here or in some other state far away. That’s pol­i­tics.

It’s the leak that mat­ters, the tim­ing of it all, de­liv­ered breath­lessly on the week­end be­fore a big elec­tion. And Elec­tion Day is Tues­day. Pres­i­dent Trump and the Repub­li­cans vs. the Democrats. And in Illi­nois, Gov. Bruce Rauner vs. J.B. Pritzker. And tax­pay­ers vs. Demo­cratic Boss Madigan, who has Pritzker in his pocket and may soon have a Chicago mayor in his pocket, too.

We’ll get to that. But first, what about those last-minute cam­paign leaks?

Once, re­porters got them in some diner or tav­ern. Usu­ally it in­volved a greasy en­ve­lope handed over by some greasy lit­tle man. But now, any car­toon head with a fake name on a Twit­ter ac­count, or any cam­paign man­ager, can email video and get things started.

Af­ter cov­er­ing pol­i­tics in two cen­turies, I’ve seen last-minute leaks about ev­ery­thing short of dou­bledip­ping. And I’m not talk­ing about be­ing on two pay­rolls at once.

That would be about a can­di­date who dou­ble-dips chips into the Mrs. Grass onion dip, spread­ing his/her saliva to oth­ers with­out their con­sent, yet has the gall to deny it.

But ev­ery­thing in pol­i­tics in the last days be­fore an elec­tion is chips and dip, and not some nor­mal chip, ei­ther, but those scoop­ers, de­signed to cram as much fat as pos­si­ble into vot­ers’ heads.

The con­gres­sional midterm elec­tions: Trump, the Repub­li­cans and the Democrats. Trump seizes on il­le­gal im­mi­gra­tion again. It’s the rea­son he was elected pres­i­dent. And that car­a­van, which he calls an in­va­sion, of thou­sands of Cen­tral Amer­i­can im­mi­grants com­ing up through Mex­ico and push­ing for a con­fronta­tion at the U.S. bor­der is his per­fect is­sue.

His pol­icy is clear. No il­le­gal en­try. And he’s send­ing thou­sands of troops to the bor­der to make it so.

Un­for­tu­nately, Demo­cratic im­mi­gra­tion pol­icy is not clear. I wish Democrats were of­fer­ing some­thing other than emo­tional re­sponses or vague talk about “com­pre­hen­sive im­mi­gra­tion pol­icy” with­out de­tails.

Democrats who have called for what amounts to open bor­ders pol­icy have fallen silent, as have those who want to abol­ish the Im­mi­gra­tion and Cus­toms En­force­ment agency. They know the car­a­van is not a win­ning is­sue for Democrats now.

Nat­u­rally, lib­eral pun­dits re­spond with sar­casm, say­ing it is a car­a­van of help­less women and children. But the car­a­van is not all women and children. Vot­ers see this.

And vot­ers know it means con­fronta­tion. They know that if mass il­le­gal im­mi­gra­tion is not stopped, then oth­ers will fol­low. And so, vot­ers mea­sure Trump’s Repub­li­can hard line and the Democrats’ vague emo­tional re­sponses. This could limit the size of the ex­pected Demo­cratic vic­tory in the House.

But here is where Trump is dead wrong, ab­so­lutely, 100 per­cent wrong: his boast that he will sign an ex­ec­u­tive or­der end­ing birthright cit­i­zen­ship, the long-stand­ing prac­tice that if you’re born on Amer­i­can soil, you be­come an Amer­i­can ci­ti­zen.

Birthright cit­i­zen­ship is pro­tected in the Con­sti­tu­tion. It would be im­me­di­ately chal­lenged in fed­eral court and stopped. Amer­i­cans will see Trump’s ac­tion as the work of an im­pe­rial pres­i­dency and fun­da­men­tally un­fair.

Trump’s prom­ise of a hard line on il­le­gal im­mi­gra­tion is worthy of de­bate on all sides, and im­por­tant, if only Democrats would en­gage, rather than shriek about racism. But they’re try­ing to mo­ti­vate their vot­ers, too, and racism and emo­tion work.

But his ex­ec­u­tive or­der on birthright cit­i­zen­ship is noth­ing but a nasty po­lit­i­cal stunt. Amer­i­cans will gag on it, like chips loaded with too much dip.

Rauner vs. Pritzker. I can’t see how Rauner can win re-elec­tion on Tues­day, not af­ter flip-flop­ping and be­tray­ing his con­ser­va­tive base by sign­ing House Bill 40 that pro­vides for tax­payer-funded abor­tion. Rauner may have doomed the en­tire state Repub­li­can ticket.

Rauner made his own money. He risked his own cash in pol­i­tics. He tried to change Illi­nois, but his po­lit­i­cal mis­cal­cu­la­tions were fa­tal.

Bil­lion­aire Demo­crat J.B. Pritzker has risked noth­ing ex­cept money he didn’t earn. He in­her­ited it all. He’s never held a job. He doesn’t know pol­i­tics. Illi­nois is a toy to him.

And he’ll rely on Illi­nois House Speaker Michael Madigan to run things. In any other state, J.B. Pritzker would be a dis­as­trous can­di­date, but Illi­nois is al­ready a dis­as­ter and he just bought it.

Madigan vs. Repub­li­can state rep­re­sen­ta­tives. Any vote for a Demo­crat for the Illi­nois House is a vote for Madigan to re­main speaker of the House, con­trol­ling leg­is­la­tion as Boss of Illi­nois. Democrats will crown him speaker. This is not a par­ti­san state­ment. This is how it works. It’s what has kept Madigan in power for four decades.

The race for mayor of Chicago. Just as I sat down to write about last-minute leaks, a last-minute “leak” be­came news: a video for Su­sana Men­doza, run­ning for state comp­trol­ler on Tues­day, in which she an­nounces her may­oral cam­paign.

“I’m Su­sana Men­doza, and I’m run­ning for mayor of Chicago, and I ask you to join me on this jour­ney to­gether,” she says.

She has charisma. I like her and have pre­dicted she’ll be mayor some­day. But she’s Madigan’s can­di­date on this adventure. And though she risks lit­tle — she’ll keep the comp­trol­ler’s job if she’s not the mayor — she’ll still be of­fered up as the fresh face of pol­i­tics. But she needs me­dia cheer­lead­ers to ig­nore her Boss Madigan con­nec­tions.

Madigan might end up with the gov­er­nor’s of­fice in one hand and the mayor’s of­fice in the other.

He knows that all pol­i­tics is lo­cal, and there’s noth­ing re­motely co­in­ci­den­tal about last-minute leaks in the fi­nal days of a cam­paign.

ZBIGNIEW BZDAK/CHICAGO TRI­BUNE

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