As recent events unfold, a pressing question emerges: Who’s the bigger fraud, Judge Brett Kavanaugh or Governor Bruce Rauner?
Consider the case for Kavanaugh, Donald Trump’s latest Supreme Court nominee. Kavanaugh wants America to believe he’s the victim of a massive left-wing conspiracy hatched by the Clintons as payback for the 2016 presidential election.
As opposed to what he really is—a Republican political hack who threw a hissy fit at this week’s Senate Judiciary Committee hearing after Christine Blasey Ford, a highly credible psychologist who has nothing to do with the Clintons, accused him of sexual assault.
Sample comment from Kavanaugh’s judiciary hearing testimony:
“I’m not questioning that Dr. Ford may have been sexually assaulted . . . “
Even though by using the word may, Kavanaugh’s passive-aggressively doing just that—questioning her claims.
On the other hand, there’s Governor Rauner, who on his political deathbed seems to have come to the realization that he’d better scurry to the center because he’s down in the polls against J.B. Pritzker, his Democratic opponent.
So Rauner recently gave a speech before the Illinois Chamber of Commerce positioning himself as a great centrist who’s offended both the left and right.
Or, as Rauner himself put it: “Boy, I’ve got to tell you, holding up the center has been incredibly hard as governor.”
He followed up with an interview with Crain’s where he declared that he’s not “anti-union.”
Wow. All right, let’s unpack this one.
I must concede that there’s a small—very small—kernel of truth to Rauner’s centrist comments. He does lean moderate on abortion. But when it comes to labor issues, he’s in Koch brothers country.
In particular, his antipathy toward unions—especially the teachers’ union—borders on madness.
For his first three years as governor, Rauner was able to drag Republican legislators off the cliff with him on his anti-union policies.
But by last year, Republican legislators—led by state rep Jeanne Ives—basically told Rauner they’d stop falling in line if he were to sign HB 40, the abortion rights legislation.
So Rauner privately assured them he’d veto it.
When word of his promise got out, there was an eruption of protest among suburban moderates—egged on by my old pal, Terry Cosgrove, executive director of Personal PAC, the abortion rights group.
Cosgrove released a copy of a statement from Rauner in 2014, in which the then-candidate promised to sign a reproductive rights bill like HB 40.
Under pressure, Rauner flip-flopped, again, and wound up signing HB 40. That angered Ives so much she ran against Rauner in the Republican primary.
Rauner beat Ives. But now state senator Sam McCann is running a third-party campaign on the Conservative Party ticket, largely blasting Rauner as a sellout.
So Rauner has the worst of all worlds. No one likes him. In fact, about the only thing on which Cosgrove and Ives and McCann agree is that—you can’t trust Bruce Rauner.
And that brings us to his current attempt to reposition himself as a centrist in a desperate bid to recapture some suburban moderates to offset the conservatives who’ll vote for McCann.
So to remind everyone about how anti-union Rauner has been, let me point out that he initiated the Janus case.
That’s the lawsuit filed by Mark Janus, a former state employee, that led to the Supreme Court ruling that public sector employees have a First Amendment right not to pay union fees, even if unions are obliged to represent those workers.
The deciding vote in the Janus case was cast by Justice Neil Gorsuch, appointed by President Trump, to fill a vacancy that was created when Barack Obama was president.
But of course, the Republican leader, Senator Mitch McConnell, refused to give Obama’s nominee, Merrick Garland, a hearing. So Rauner’s great moment was largely a gift from McConnell and Trump.
So much for Rauner the centrist.
In case I’d forgotten Rauner’s other anti-union positions, ancient baby boomer that I am, I called Jake Lewis.
He’s the campaign director of Illinois Working Together, a union-backed think tank. He’s also a millennial, meaning his memory’s way sharper than mine.
“Did you mention that Rauner supported legislation that would create right-to-work zones?” Lewis asked, referring to districts in which employees, public or private, are free not to pay union fees, thus starving unions of funds they need to operate.
“And did you mention that he vetoed a bill that would have given collective bargaining rights for emergency medical technicians? And that he vetoed the $15 minimum wage? And that he’s tried to cut the prevailing wage for the trade unions? And that he donated $500,000 to the Illinois Policy Institute, which is actively encouraging people to leave their unions? And that he vetoed a bill that would give a $40,000 minimum wage for schoolteachers? And that he . . . ”
Thanks, Jake—but I think you’ll have to finish your list in a future column, ’cause I’m running out of space in this one.
Back to our central question—who’s’ the bigger fraud, Kavanaugh or Rauner? I call it a tie.
Let’s keep one off the Supreme Court and vote the other out of office. I say no more Republicans until that party comes to its senses.