Watching Gov. Pat Quinn (Gov. Pat Quinn!) the other day talk to the media about why he is pushing for special election legislation -- as well as calling on Roland Burris to resign -- we were struck with a rare thought while watching an Illinois politician: Our new governor is an adult.
Quinn spoke thoughtfully, answered all questions without evasion, didn't get bent out of shape or fall back on cliches or smarmy sentiment. Even when he expressed an earnest civic patriotism, it felt genuine.
In return, the reporters seemed to ask thoughtful questions. That doesn't mean they went soft on Quinn; to the contrary, they hammered away on the cost of holding a special election somewhat admirably (the more interesting question is Quinn's willingness to open the seat up for a competition that Republicans could win, which is a fine example of putting the public interest before that of his own party).
And surely Quinn will have his less-than-satisfying moments, like anyone in the public eye.
But change has come to Illnois - and only indirectly by Barack Obama, who had to vacate his Senate seat to spark a chain reaction that has put a real reformer in the Governor's Mansion.
Rod Blagojevich was often called the Boy Governor, at first because of his youthful looks and precocious campaigning skills, then later because of his bratty and immature behavior.
Even if he's a disaster as governor, no one will mistake Pat Quinn for an angst-filled teenager. He's operating in a different mindspace, and it would be nice to see a few others around here - paging Mayor Daley! - follow his lead and, as Obama said recently, put away childish things.