Pritzker regrets; Ives doesn't

Pritzker regrets; Ives doesn't

Aspiring politicians say the darnedest things.

Two gubernatorial candidates are catching plenty of flak this week — one for what he said on an FBI wiretap and the other for what her campaign stated in a television ad.

Democrat J.B. Pritzker quickly apologized. He figures if he grovels sufficiently, all will be forgiven.

Republican Jeanne Ives appeared somewhat chastened, but otherwise unapologetic, about a campaign advertisement characterized by critics as intolerant, almost the worst thing that can be said about a human being these days.

Since Pritzker, at least for now, is the leading candidate for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination and Ives an underdog, let's start with him.

In 2008, the FBI was listening in as the billionaire businessman was trying to talk now-imprisoned Gov. Rod Blagojevich into appointing him state treasurer if the office became vacant. Blagojevich was trying to talk Pritzker into giving him a big campaign contribution.

With each out to advance his own interests, they talked about the state's U.S. Senate seat being vacated by President-elect Barack Obama.

It was then that, as the Chicago Tribune put it, they engaged in a "blunt discussion of the calculations of racial politics the public does not normally hear."

Pritzker suggested Blagojevich appoint Secretary of State Jesse White to the U.S. Senate as a means of both appeasing black voters and naming White's successor to the patronage-rich office. Pritzker called White the "least offensive" of the state's black politicians, labeling state Sen. Emil Jones "crass" and then-U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. a "nightmare."

In the face of heavy news coverage about the conversation and with the March 20 primary just around the corner, Pritzker's rivals quickly accused him of racism.

Former Sen. Jones, who was less than impressive during his long run in the Legislature, blasted Pritzker for, in Jones' words, looking for a "safe black who's not going to make any waves." Jones is supporting Chris Kennedy for governor.

State Sen. Daniel Biss, who also is running for governor, also professed outrage, calling the conversation a display of "powerful white men, totally unaware of their privilege, horse-trading for more power."

Blagojevich and Pritzker, of course, were not horse-trading anything. Each was trying to take advantage of the other, and nothing ever came of the conversation.

Pritzker had a point when he was discussing fitness for office. But unfitness isn't limited to any single group. Whatever their races, too many Illinois politicians are incompetents who are in it for themselves.

Pritzker, for example, called Jackson Jr. a "nightmare." It would have been more accurate to call him a "future felon," the same description applying to Blagojevich as well.

The unmentioned problem with the conversation is that neither participant discussed, even for a second, what best served the public interest.

Politics and career advancement were Pritzker's concern then, and it's his concern now as he seeks to recover from this self-inflicted wound.

As for Ives, her television ad may be grating to some, but it clearly demonstrates she's the hard-core conservative she professes to be. She and those who support her are sick of turning social conventions upside down to appease various victim groups. That's "intolerant" to many.

The ad presents a cartoonish image of liberal concerns as they relate to abortion, same-sex marriage, illegal immigration and transgendered men and women using bathrooms reserved for the opposite sex.

In one image, a man dressed as a woman thanks Gov. Bruce Rauner for allowing him to use the girls' bathroom. A woman thanks Gov. Rauner for her taxpayer-funded abortion. An illegal immigrant thanks Gov. Rauner for Illinois' status as a sanctuary state.

Ives said the ad tackles issues, but critics contend it belittles those at the margins of society. Actually, it does both.

Whatever one's opinion, Ives' ad is divisive by design. She's trying to defeat Rauner in the upcoming primary, and Ives can't achieve her goal by playing nice.

So she's not apologizing for saying what she thinks has to be said. On the other hand, Pritzker is pretending he didn't mean what he clearly did mean.

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rsp wrote on February 09, 2018 at 7:02 am

Maybe a more realistic way to look at it is they are both willing to step on or over people to get what they want. Just because you put party labels on them doesn't change things, or name people in one case but not the other. It's still a case of two people who both want power rather than to serve. Self interest vs public interest.