• Rich Saal/AP Photos
  • The Trib thinks Governor Rauner is so dreamy.

Do you remember your first serious crush? You couldn’t think straight, and your tongue got so thick you could hardly get a sentence out without coughing and clearing your throat. It’s sort of the way the Tribune has sounded since it swooned over Bruce Rauner.

For instance, when comparing Rauner with another midwestern governor:

“Now it’s Rauner’s turn. He, um, likes comparisons to Scott Walker.”

Or when endorsing Rauner’s plan to cut back the number of days off for unionized state workers.

“They get, ahem, 13 paid holidays a year.”

A scolding the Tribune gave Rauner’s political enemies, Michael Madigan and John Cullerton, on May 26, was so afflicted with tics and wheezes I wasn’t sure the editorial would make it to the end:

“Remarkably, they have not resigned to, um, spend more time with their families . . . Huh? We know voters aren’t dumb enough to be misled . . . Oh—there’s one more surprise . . . Hmm. One of the guys who got us here says he’s determined to keep us here . . . “

And if you’re not blushing and gasping in the throes of adolescent ardor, you’re blurting out besotted hyperboles.

“Mostly they want to scare you, then break you,” said the lovestruck editorial page on May 29, speaking directly to the governor. “You don’t seem fazed . . . . You come across as a patient man. . . . You also come across as a focused man. A governor who won’t flinch . . . . The crony-coddlers in Springfield—and their loyalists who live off state spending—finally have met someone they don’t frighten . . . . You, Governor, are free to keep calm and stand pat. How liberating to answer only to the voters who sent you.”

It was an editorial that might have ended, “Take me.”

Here is my concern. I like young romance as much as anyone else, but I’ve seen enough movies about obsession to know there could be trouble ahead. Obsession is a need that can’t be met. Heartbreak always follows. A week ago Rauner announced a halt to spending on the Illiana toll road that would connect I-55 in Illinois and I-65 in Indiana south of Chicago. The Tribune calls the Illiana a “boondoggle,” and you’d think it would have been delighted with Rauner’s edict. But it wasn’t. The Tribune wanted more. Kill the project outright, said the editorial page, and I worried. Was this innocent affair entering the perilous “you’re perfect, so change” phase when nothing Rauner does is enough to make the Tribune happy?

Fortunately, the Tribune has a cynical roommate with his feet on the ground. Columnist Eric Zorn has seen a lot of governors come and go, and he knows some fervors simply have to run their course. But he does what he can to keep his newspaper real.

“Where’s Gov. Bruce Rauner’s real budget?” Zorn wondered last week. “Focus, people: What does Rauner propose to spend, and how does he propose to pay for it?”

There’s a $2.2 billion hole in the state budget, Zorn explained. What new taxes, and what new cuts, does Rauner have in mind? “Before you fit him for his white hat, you ought to find out what those cuts will look like.”

I know, I know, the whole world knows—the editorial page is simply too smitten to hear. But you talk a little sense today and a little sense tomorrow and eventually something sinks in.