Phil Luciano: Will Bush really help win votes for Schock?
At what political price comes a campaign windfall?
That's the question that comes to mind regarding Aaron Schock's big-ticket fundraiser starring President Bush.
I'm sure consultants, strategists and other wizards have vetted this event for Schock. They're far wiser than a mere columnist as to which way blow political winds of favor.
Still, a sure thing is never really a sure thing. Once in a while, a heavy favorite comes up lacking. Witness Big Brown. Or Hillary Clinton.
And, really, it's hard to suggest a misstep in the Schock political march. He and his handlers have done a remarkable job to advance him in such a short time. And 72 percent in the congressional primary? Crazy impressive.
You have to peg him the big favorite this fall. Still, someone, somewhere must have had some doubt. Or, perhaps, they don't want to just win but destroy. More money, more ads, more momentum, more power.
Also, maybe there's the idea that buddying Schock to the president adds to the young Peorian's political heft. But does it win any voters? You're talking about a president with abysmal approval ratings. That's why, during the primaries, scads of Republican hopefuls passed on Bush appearances, fearful of negative drag.
Apparently, the Schock camp feels otherwise. But I wonder if they've considered another risk, one that could ebb at his biggest edge. Schock has a certain political je ne sais quoi, that hard-to-pinpoint something that most rivals would die for. It's a voter-luring mix of looks and style. It's not like Jack Kennedy: dashing and powerful. Rather, it's more Richie Cunningham: apple pie and easy grin.
It makes voters feel not just confident but warm, happy to vote for the boy next door. He comes off as the cuddly, whiz-kid grandson, nephew or neighbor.
But that connection could get strained as Schock hosts an exclusive party for the well-to-do.
Mind you, we're not naive bumpkins here. We understand that politics is expensive business. But $500 tickets and $5,000 photo ops can seem obscene to some - especially while droves of people nationally and locally are losing homes, pining at the pumps and otherwise struggling to make ends meet.
You host a mega-bucks campaign shindig in Washington, D.C., and it's all in a day's work. But throw all those zeros at Joe and Jane Peoria, and eyes bulge and eyebrows raise. To a lot of folks in this town, $500 and $5,000 is still a lot of money.
Keep in mind, this isn't like January 2007, when locals could line the roads to spot the president (or even just his motorcade) when he visited here. This is a private affair, hosted at an unspecified residence. My guess is, the East Bluff is out. Expect the fete to be at some swank manse, a place big enough to rake in massive piles of cash.
Schock is drawing a thick line here between the haves and have-nots. And the have-nots cannot even dream of stepping out of their place and merely glimpse the president.
Schock is no longer the boy next door. He's looks more and more like the rich man on the hill.
Maybe I'm wrong. Maybe voters don't care if Schock throws a posh party that only a precious few can attend. Maybe they're happy just of the chance to marvel from afar at all of the rich people's fun. Maybe all those greenbacks make the party worth it.
If so, well done, Mr. Schock.
Phil Luciano can be reached at email@example.com or (309) 686-3155.