Judy Baar Topinka steals inauguration show

January 10, 2011

I watched the Illinois inauguration today so you didn't have to. Seriously, you should thank me. When I took on the assignment, I thought it would be much more like a college graduation, with bands, balloons and semi-bawdy speech. Instead, it was like a school assembly, that went way past the bell.

Here are a couple random observations from my two hour odyssey: 
 

  • Enough with the religion at the top of these inaugurations. First pledge, then prayer, then gospel choir? What next, three different faiths doing three short prayers??! YES! By my count, they had five prayers. Is this some sort of knock against those who want prayer out of schools and public places? Oh yeah? You don't like it? How bout we stick it to you then - with five prayers. How you like me now? 
  • What is happening? What was the intro to Quinn? Some recorded thing?
  • Pat Quinn started his long speech talking about the Arizona shootings. He wants to end the violence and end the silence about the violence. An acknowledgment of the news story would be fine, but Quinn goes further to blame political in-fighting and rhetoric. Quinn is no stranger to talking about national issues when he really doesn't have a reason to (see NYC mosque). We have plenty of our own issues - get to those.
  • Quinn moves on to talk about how all we need is love. He quotes from the Bible. But instead of it being insightful, he gives the ole' St. Paul passage about love being patient, love being kind. Is he being inaugurated or is this his wedding? 
  • Best quote (when talking about the ups and downs of a lifetime of elections): One day a peacock, next day a feather duster.
  • Quinn threw some emotion into the equation when talking about his father, who has passed. It's part of being a leader - at least it's not just about the excitement of winning an election.
  • What's with all the kids on the stage? Everyone who won anything brought their toddler on stage with them. Fidget city! Is this how we are rolling?Is this why our state is so poor? Are politicians bringing their kids to work every day?
  • ...And we believe in airports! Quinn then said we will see a new airport in the South Suburbs. News? 
  • From what I could gather, Quinn's long speech was about three themes: Fairness, transportation and union welders.  Can someone please produce these speeches? Audiences are done with the trite "I met a voter" speech. Just like in sports, do away with that play. Defenses have caught up to it. Try something new.
  • My second favorite quote: "We honor all those who plow."


Sheila Simon
 

  • The Justice cut off Sheila Simon before she could finish puppeting back one of her lines. Does that make this inauguration un-binding?
  • Simon spoke of an essay contest that some Illinois children won to attend the inauguration. Poor kids. I'll bet they thought it was like I did - gowns and celebrities. Instead they got Sheila Simon reminding all their peers that they won an essay contest. 

Lisa Madigan
 

  • Lisa Madigan brings the whole family up for the swearing in, sans her Dad.
  • Madigan always sounds like she is forcing herself to talk like a politician. She seems like if she dropped the forced cadence, she would be pleasant to listen to. I'll bet she picked it up from a bad high school speech teacher.
  • Madigan: "When child pornographers use technology to exchange horrific images, we use the same technology to catch them." Are we talking about e-mail here? FTP servers?
  • C'mon, get to Judy Baar! 

Jesse White

  • First off, a little annoyed he wasn't in his red polo and gym shorts.
  • Did Jesse White and Justice Cunningham just do a little kiss on the old lips? Weird.
  • If I were Jesse White, I would have had my tumblers jump the Supreme Court justices when announced.
  • White said he banned political contributions from his employees. Does this include the Tumblers? Something tells me they are out selling candy bars for the cause...

And now...

Judy Baar Topinka

  • Of course, this speech doesn't disappoint. She is on-fire from the beginning. During the pledge, Topinka cracks wise during the oath. Awesome and completely illegal? Regardless, hilarious. 
  • Judy knows how to start a speech. She came right up and gave a "I'm back" in her best Schwartzenegger to call back to her speech the day after the primary.
  • She then launches into a very sincere and heartfelt appreciation for her son who is serving in the military. He is in attendance, yet the politicians in the room decide against a robust applause and standing ovation, which sometimes happens and quite frankly, is what Quinn is all about - unless of course, it's someone from a different political party.
  • Judy then goes out of her way to salute the outgoing Democrat Dan Hynes, whom she gave a glowing endorsement. It was very classy and way more than just political rhetoric. She seemed to mean it.
  • Back to the jokes: "People might say: Why is she running to take over a fiscally strapped state? They say, "What is she thinking?" Smile, look around the audience, smattering of laughter. She follows up with a "um, yeah, okay - and finds her place in the script. Even when bombing, she shows character. 
  • Judy Baar Topinka moved on to say that both parties were responsible for the financial mess in this state and stated emphatically, "no more games, cut it out! Without being disagreeable! Okay?...We're going to be adults. And in Springfield, all the way across the board, we finally have adults."
  • She finished with this line: "So we have to work together and fix the state. Because I'm not going away until we do." 

Judy Baar Topinka continues to be the best politician this state has to offer. She's charming, she speaks from the hip and she works, works and works. If she contributes to turning the state's financial woes around? Several Illinoisians might be looking for a way to go back in time and change their 2006 vote.