Editorial: Give them a hug; nothing else has worked in Illinois

Staff Writer
Mount Shasta Herald

Hugs have been credited with preventing aging, raising IQ, easing depression and boosting the immune system. There may be a couple of other benefits, but we forgot because we haven’t gotten enough hugs.

Illinois politicians don’t have that problem. Witness the hug fest that went on Wednesday, started by the Rev. Jesse Jackson Jr. The congressman and son of the legendary civil rights leader encouraged the Illinois delegation at the Democratic National Convention in Denver to reconcile at a breakfast meeting.

Jackson led the way by hugging Rep. Bobby Rush and state Sen. Debbie Halvorson of Crete, with whom he has sparred about an airport in the south suburbs. Then Mayor Richard Daley hugged Jackson, which brought Jackson to tears. He turned from the camera to weep.

When Jackson urged Gov. Rod Blagojevich and House Speaker Mike Madigan to hug, that almost seemed too much until — political wonder of wonders, they did. “I just wonder if it’s the altitude,” Blagojevich told the Chicago Sun-Times. “We’ll find out when we get home.”

That sounds pretty unconvincing. Might we remind them we are expecting great things?

Now that Blago and friends are members of the Mile-High Hugging Club, we are holding them to a higher standard.

After all, if hugs can bring all those improvements in mental and physical well-being mentioned above, certainly Illinois residents can expect modest improvements in the state’s well-being.

There’s no shortage of places to start. We need a capital construction plan, more jobs and school financing reform. How about addressing pension debt, anemic funding to substance abuse centers and late payments to medical providers?

The cynical among us dismissed the hugs in Denver as just so much theater. For one thing, we’d guess that Jackson would like to progress from the breakfast time Theater of the Absurd in Denver to a prime-time national hugging platform.

But we will resist our cynical urges and give them all the benefit of the doubt.

Hugs are better than drugs, no doubt, although the situation in Illinois was getting so desperate, drugs did seem like a viable option if nothing else worked.

Thank goodness that Jesse Jackson Jr. was willing to try something else. Better hope there’s no hug hangover.

We can’t imagine how the state’s problems could get much worse.

Rockford Register Star