Carol Marin: Hastert scandal drags state down

SHARE Carol Marin: Hastert scandal drags state down

My nearly 90-year-old friend and mentor Newton Minow read something years ago that had a profound impact on him. And it’s a lessonworthlearning in the wake of the J. Dennis Hastert scandal.

“We have three selves,” Newt remembers reading. “We are who we are. We are who we want to be. And we are who we want people to think we are.”

Newtofferedthat quote in a keynote speech at Northwestern Memorial Hospital on Thursdaywith this added warning: “It’s when those three selves get out of alignment that we get into trouble.”

Just hours after I left his speech to return to my newsroom, the feds dropped the bombshell indictment of Hastert.


“I am speechless,” said former Illinois House GOP leader Tom Cross. He was the first person I called after hearing the news. Hastert was Cross’ mentor, the formerteacher in Yorkville who introduced Cross to Republican politics and helped pave his path to elected office.

“I am,” Cross repeated slowly, “speechless.”

I was too.

And harkening back to Newt’s speech, I couldn’t help thinking of our multiple selves: the one we are, the one we want to be, and the onewe wanteveryone elseto thinkwe are.

Who is the realJ. Dennis Hastert?

To many, he is a favorite son of Illinois who rose from coach and teacher to state legislator tocongressman to Speaker of the House. An ordinary guy catapulted into an extraordinary life.

A devoted family man. A rock star in Kendall County where a sign posted on the county line proudly proclaimed itself the “Home of the Speaker of the House.”

The fedsnowpaint a different Denny Hastert. One who was allegedly breaking banking laws to secretly pay off an “Individual A” to the tune of $3.5 million for “past misconduct.”

Who is Individual A?

According to the feds, someone who “has been a resident of Yorkville” and known Hastert for “most of his life” apparently going back to his Yorkville coaching days.

ByFriday, the Sun-Times’ Natasha Korecki was reporting the feds had identified a second alleged victim and the misconduct being corroborated was sexual.

Hastert is innocent until proven guilty.

But let’s face it, this is yet another tragedy for Illinois.

Chicago media consultant Tom Serafin told me he got a call from his sister in Arizona exclaiming, “Is thereanybodyin your state who isn’t guilty of something?”

Just the short list includes the personal malfeasance of former governors (Dan Walker, Otto Kerner); corruption while in office of other elected officials (George Ryan, Rod Blagojevich, Jesse and Sandi Jackson); and current public corruption probes (Aaron Schock, Barbara Byrd-Bennett).

We look like a failed state.

Toss in our worst-in-the-nation bond ratings, fiscal crisis, rigged contracts and clouted deals, and we make Detroit look like it’s in rehab while we have yet to hit rock bottom.

So Illinois, who are we?

Who do we want to be?

And who do we want people to believe we are?

Not what they currently see.

Not by a long shot.


Twitter: @CarolMarin

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