Invasion of the Pat Quinn Body Snatchers

Real governor missing in action

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    NEWSLETTERS

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    Governor Pat Quinn is a shell of his reformer self.

    Paging Pat Quinn! Has anyone seen Pat Quinn?

    Not the alien who has snatched his body since he became governor, but the real Pat Quinn, Gadfly Version.

    Today Quinn will appear before Cook County Democratic officials to seek their support at their slatemaking session. The old Quinn not only would never have pandered to the Chicago's political elite to support his reelection bid, but he would have excoriated anyone who did.

    For years, about 40 of them, Quinn inveighed against party slatemaking.

    "I think in a primary, people should choose their candidates without any interference of party mechanism and money," Quinn told the Chicago Tribune last month.

    And, as Mark Brown points out in the Sun-Times this morning, Quinn just signed a new ethics law that prohibits the state parties from endorsing or giving financial support to candidates in primaries.

    What gives?

    By going 180-degrees from his roots, Quinn is missing his moment.

    Former Gov. George Ryan is already in prison, and his successor, Rod Blagojevich, is on the way. Lo and behold, Pat Quinn, who basically became lieutenant governor when no one was looking - and no one cared - is almost unimaginably there to pick up the pieces.

    Oh glory day! Surely fated by the heavens! Putative independent reformers like Quinn don't achieve high office in Illinois. (And don't say "What about Barack Obama?"; Obama not only never challenged the political establishment, he embraced it.)

    And now Quinn is fumbling it away in a series of inexplicable missteps.

    Not that the public at-large probably gives a rat's behind who appears at a party slatemaking session. But if Quinn loses the confidence of the reformy types while never gaining the trust of the Machine, he's toast.

    What's worse, Quinn's convictions have become unclear, and in this day and age, that means he's badly damaged his brand.

    Furthermore, the guy from the political dynasty who wants to take the nomination from him --  Dan Hynes!  -- is outscoring him by speaking clearly, boldly and positioning himself as the independent.

    Here's some advice to the governor and his staff: Let Quinn be Quinn.

    If you're going to go down, go down fighting for yourself, not the Cook County Democratic Machine.

    Steve Rhodes is the proprietor of The Beachwood Reporter, a Chicago-centric news and culture review.