I take it back. I wrote the other day in this blog that the journalistic day is over when a big Chicago story wouldn’t be complete until so-and-so had his or her say on the subject. Henry Hyde died Thursday and my first thought was this: Must read Tom Roeser. Roeser, full of years and beans, writes the most fully realized blog I know. He’s a ruminator, his decades in politics the cud he now chews twice, and he’s spellbinding. His blog gives him all the time and space in the world, and he’s taking it. Roeser, who wears his values on his sleeve, admires some people and despises others; he admired Hyde enormously.
His entry on the late congressman doesn’t disappoint. “There will not be his like in the Congress again soon. Perhaps never,” Roeser writes. “Some thoughts: I hope that Congressman Rahm Emanuel has retained some portion of the innate grace from his ballet dancing past not to attend Henry’s wake or funeral. But if he goes it will be typical. Typical because as everyone in Washington knows including the media that will not publish it, Emanuel, once President Bill Clinton’s assassin (felicitously called his political director) looked skyward in innocence as porno-magazine owner-editor Larry Flynt disclosed that decades earlier Henry had an affair from his Illinois legislature days–which was supposed to tit for tat, to even things up with a president who allowed himself to be pleasured in an anteroom off the Oval Office by a courtesan intern paid by the taxpayers . . . on occasions enjoying himself with her even when a House member was on the phone talking to him about the possibility of war . . . who then lied about it under federal oath, lied to the people and then admitted he lied.”
In Roeser’s long, sympathetic account of the central role played by Hyde in Clinton’s impeachment, Emanuel pretty much tried to blackmail Hyde into backing off. Roeser writes:
“Twice the bad-breathed one approached him. The second time he said fundamentally this–This is the real world, Henry and just as you prepare to bring impeachment think of what our disclosure will do to you and your family. You go to Mass now every morning and to communion, too. Well think of what those in the pews will think as you go up there to receive the Eucharist Henry; think of what they will say. They will say this is Henry Hyde the adulterer. Think what your grandchildren will say and think about you forever, Henry. Do you understand?
“Henry did and carried out his duty. The Flynt charge was made. It hit Hyde harder than he thought it would. It stayed with him for life. Once he told me that he had been hit by the ‘Irish sickness,’ i.e. depression. Much later he began to physically fail after an operation. He began to fall. He had to get a wheel-chair.”
When you’re done with Roeser’s long tribute to Hyde, wander around in his blog. Because of time spent in Minnesota, he has a lot to say about Hubert Humphrey, most of it affectionate, and some sharp observations to make about Gene McCarthy. A few days ago he was writing about Humphrey, McCarthy, LBJ, and Vietnam, and explaining why Ron Paul reminds him less of Robert A. Taft than he does McCarthy. You can disagree with Roeser on a lot of things, and think you don’t care which dead senator a marginal GOP presidential candidate most resembles, but Roeser will catch you up in his enthusiasms. Is blogging something else that’s wasted on the young?