Mike Madigan is a man in love.
The usually stoic Illinois speaker of the House is smitten.
And last week, he didn’t even try to hide who he holds dear.á
The object of his affections?
Why, it is himself, of course.
I’ve never encountered a news release quite so full of self-adulation and gloating as the one Madigan issued through the Democratic Party of Illinois, which he leads:
“Last night’s election results definitively proved that the [Bruce] Rauner Republican playbook of attempting to make the entire 2018 election a referendum on Speaker Madigan, to distract from Republicans’ record, is a failure. Rauner and the Republican Party spent several years and hundreds of millions of dollars focused on tearing down one man, and last night that strategy definitively failed for Republicans up and down the ballot who joined in the effort.”
OK, it’s a little weird that he talks about himself in the third person. But all the same, we get the message: He’s sticking it in the eye of his arch nemesis, Gov. Bruce Rauner, who was defeated last week.
And, yes, Bruce Rauner is a failure.
But just because your foe fails, doesn’t mean you’re a success.
Mike Madigan’s news release was the equivalent of him running on the street and hollering: “People really like me.”
Look, Illinois Republicans had a rough election.
The reasons are many, but here are a few: a GOP president unpopular in the Chicago suburbs, a Republican Party unable to unite after a bruising gubernatorial primary, an unpopular governor at the top of the ballot and getting outspent 3 to 1 by J.B. “Big Bucks” Pritzker.
None of these things equates to Mike Madigan being popular.
In fact, last year, a poll conducted by Southern Illinois University’sáPaul Simon Public Policy Institute found that 61 percent of Illinoisans disapprove of Mike Madigan and 58 percent disapproved of Bruce Rauner.
Voters rendered a judgment Nov. 6 that had “damned if you do” edging out “damned if you don’t.”
But Madigan said this of Rauner’s efforts: “It failed because Speaker Madigan and the Democratic Party of Illinois are champions of smart economic and social policies that better the lives of Illinoisans and create a state that works for all of us.”
Illinois has the worst credit rating in the nation, and has an unfunded pension liability of $250 billion, according to Moody’s. The state is on the brink of insolvency.
Over the past 40 years, both Republicans and Democrats have contributed to this fiscal mess. But the common denominator during those four decades is Mike Madigan.
His fingerprints are on nearly every vote that has contributed to Illinois’ fiscal death spiral.
To say Mike Madigan has exhibited “smart economic policies” is silly.
For Madigan to claim such is an exercise in self-delusion.
Note to readers: Scott Reeder, a veteran statehouse journalist, works as a freelance reporter in the Springfield area. His email address is ScottReeder1965@gmail.com.