Ward Room
Covering Chicago's nine political influencers

Bill Brady vs. Sheila Simon and the Pointy-Headed Perfessers

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Sheila Simon has only been on the Democratic ticket for a week, but Bill Brady has already identified her weak spot: she ain’t nothin’ but an egg-haid.

    By mocking Simon as an “attorney-academician” (that means she’s a lawyer and a professor), Brady showed he’s adopting the anti-intellectual stance of the Tea Party movement whose support he craves.

    Taking on the overeducated has a long and not exactly successful history in American politics. William Jennings Bryan went to court to defend a law against teaching evolution, which assured he’d be remembered not as a three-time presidential candidate, but as the buffoonish lawyer in Inherit the Wind. George Wallace used to sneer at “pointy-headed perfessers who can’t park a bicycle straight” who wanted to impose the abomination of racial integration on decent Americans. And then there’s the current iteration -- and Brady’s obvious model -- Sarah Palin.

    At the National Tea Party Covention, Palin mocked President Obama’s conduct of the war in Afghanistan by saying “we need a commander in chief, not a professor of law standing at the lectern.”

    And now this: Brady will be the keynote speaker at this Saturday’s Homer-Lockport Tax Day Tea Party, which begins at 11 a.m. on the lawn of St. John Serbian Orthodox Church, 13847 S. Bell Road in Homer Glen.

    If he unleashes another broadside against the legal and academic elite, it will be more than a little ironic.

    First of all, Brady’s son, William, is a student at DePaul University College of Law. That means he’s studying to be an attorney. Second of all, Brady sits on boards at three colleges: Illinois Wesleyan (his alma mater), Heartland Community College and Illinois State. That means he mingles with academicians.

    Obviously, Brady doesn’t mind all attorneys and academicians. He was just using those terms as Tea Party code word for “liberals.” Brady is all in favor of giving more power to conservative academicians. As governor, he would eliminate the state’s independent board of education and replace it with a smaller board, reporting directly to him. Also, like William Jennings Bryan, he wants to allow local school districts to teach creationism.

    Brady’s tough stand against liberal lawyers and teachers should make him popular at this weekend’s Tea Party, but, as Roosevelt University political science professor Paul Green noted, “Illinois is a coffee state.”

    Especially in teachers’ lounges.