Hey Bruce, welcome to power, buddy!

SHARE Hey Bruce, welcome to power, buddy!

Well, umm, this is awkward.

Bruce, I mean, Mr. Rauner. Or, rather, governor. Allow me to be the first from the media jackal pack to extend a paw in congratulations.


I’m hoping we can work together, let bygones be bygones, striving as fellow Illinoisans to try to push our beloved state out of the ditch it has undoubtedly fallen into.

Sure, hard things were said during the campaign, by both sides. Well, by me at least—you don’t say a whole lot, do you? 

So hard things, said on almost both sides. But isn’t that always the case? (And heck, you should have seen the barbs that my editor cut out, reluctant to have anyone’s physical abnormalities held up to ridicule, even a rich and, judging by the late returns, suddenly powerful individual who does indeed have lips, thin though they may be. But ho-ho, the less said about that the better!)

Although, I’d debate how much power an Illinois governor really has. Oh sure, back in the day, he could commute death sentences, and that put a little spine into what is in effect the CEO of a broke and struggling public company, to occasionally have the phone line kept open to the death house, the midnight vigil, the governor like Solomon, weighing the scales of justice, life and death. 

George Ryan wrecked all that.  Now the governor is inspecting the latest butter cow at the Illinois State Fair and presiding over the general collapse of the American dream, as China sprints past us and we fade.

What will you do to fix that? We need to gauge our expectations. Those of us who backed Barack Obama expected him to do something, and while the sorta health care system he kinda installed over the frenzied howls of people like you is indeed an accomplishment, particularly from the perspective of  all those who now have access to health care and don’t have to die, we thought there would be more. I sure did. When I look at his first six years, I thought he would close Guantanamo Bay, like he promised, and do something about immigration, and a few other festering problems that instead were left to fester for another 2,000 days.

So I’m in a good position to be pleasantly surprised by you, since, based on your nonexistent government record any progress you make will be unexpected and welcome.

What that progress might be is a mystery. Despite all the TV ads of yours we’ve seen, your exact plans are … what? I assume big business will be happy and the unions won’t. Well, I’m all for jobs, and business, and if you can cut taxes without further gutting state government, heck, go for it. Or if you do gut government, school kids don’t have lobbyists, nor do the mentally ill, nor poor folk, and they are getting the shaft already, so their getting shafted more won’t hurt—won’t hurt you, that is, or people like you.

Oh, but that’s cold, and this is supposed to be the olive branch of friendship. I’ve written here under three Republican governors, and always had cordial relationships. Two I actually voted for. Jim Edgar, who has lovely green eyes. He just seemed honest, but was sort of the Derrick Rose of politics; his health kept giving out. Big Jim Thompson, you just had to admire the man. Few politicians nowadays would carry their love of antiquing into public office, but he did.

I hope you won’t hold my past remarks against me. Pat Quinn sure didn’t. Through the magic of computer technology, I jumped back to 2009 to check his reception. I did not  exactly embrace the man with open arms either. For all my recent flag-waving for Quinn now, eight months into office I was still referring to him as an “ineffectual goo-goo”  as if that were his official title, and calling him dull to boot. He had the “rumpled mien of a good podiatrist or a popular high school principal” we’d soon be sick of.

“Mark my words,” I wrote in 2009, “two years of Pat Quinn and we’ll be ready to elect Huey Long if it means bringing a little color to our political scene.” (So it was five years and you, perhaps dull in your own way, perhaps just unfamiliar). Four months after Quinn became governor he was still “a little dazed” and his press office voice mail told callers they’d reached “the press office of Governor Rod Blagojevich” and please leave a message.

I hope you move faster.

So no grudges here. Maybe you’ll bind up a divided state, and I hope you do. I call them as I see them, and should you make the transition, from loathsome tycoon candidate corrupting the media and sneering in contempt at the citizens who you expected to elect you, to beloved helmsmen of the Prairie State, nobody will be more pleased, or surprised, than I.  It’s time to put your money where your mouth is (he wrote, editing out “ample” and “lipless” himself.)

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