Don't Blame Blago (Sort Of)



Lynn Sweet:

But let's not forget who got the ball rolling to get the Illinois Democrats in this pickle in the first place: former Gov. Rod Blagojevich...

Sweet isn't wrong, per se. Obviously the sins of Blagojevich hurt the party a lot: his legacy tainted Quinn, his appointment of Burris forced a competitive primary, his incompetence worsened the state of the state, and getting the boot left Quinn is running with just enough time as governor to look responsible for the mess but without enough time to really do anything about it.

But consider:

* Our feckless legislature did Quinn no favors by taking a look at the state finances and the election date, and then dropping the flaming turdbag of "emergency budget powers" on the governor's doorstep.

* Democratic primary voters did themselves no favors by electing Giannoulias over Hoffman—just look at the polling crosstabs or read the endorsements if you don't believe me. Any Democratic Senate candidate would have a tough time in this climate, but Kirk ran a craptacular campaign and I suspect that a less vulnerable Democrat would have stood a better chance. Giannoulias could still pull it out, but it doesn't look good for him.

* The media (and Dan Hynes) arguably were unfair to Quinn over the MGT Push controversy, and then Quinn responded in kind by fumbling the damage control.

* Quinn's biggest problem is that the state is totally hosed. And it's hosed in large part because of ongoing problems—for instance, a tax structure that left the state particularly vulnerable to this specific economic downturn, and pension problems that have been building for years. The combination of the two—declining revenues plus the declining value of pension funds—have left the state in a perilous financial situation. This can't be blamed on Blago alone—or Quinn, or even the state Democratic party.

It's not dissimilar to the national picture. The terrible economy that leaves Democrats so vulnerable today can arguably be blamed in part on the Obama administration (Fed policy, the HAMP failure, the stimulus; ask around), but obviously the problems go way back—through the massive deficit spending and expensive wars of the Bush administration to the bipartisan free market policies of the Clinton years that set Wall Street up for the fall it so willingly took.

It's a big, big mess, here and across the country. And it took a lot of time and administrations to get here.

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