Sit Down. Sit Back. And Shut up!

I think some people in town would wish I would do just that.  My brother’s Chicago Sun Times column deals with that and being sick and tired of being sick and tired.  A line my own children have heard many times.

As we all do on Father’s Day, I was thinking a lot about my dad last Sunday. One thing I chuckled about were the little phrases Dad relied on in times of stress. When you have five sons, stress is a constant. So, we heard them often.

“Richard,” he would say to me with a dramatic, exasperated sigh, too exhausted to be angry, “I’m sick and tired of being sick and tired.”

I never really understood what he meant until many years later.

And then Rod Blagojevich was elected governor.

And then re-elected.

And then arrested in a pre-dawn raid and ousted from office in a bloodless, constitutional coup d’etat, all the while grinning for the cameras and declaring it to be yet another “Up day.”

Most rejoiced when Pat Quinn was installed in Blagojevich’s place. Heck, people were so ecstatic to finally be rid of the Blagojemonster that the new governor could’ve been Dick Cheney, for all anybody cared.

Well, maybe not Dick Cheney.

There are limits.

But now we are a month into the third overtime legislative session in three years. Actually, the ruinous session that began the January after Blagojevich was re-elected in 2006 has never really ended.

The budget is in tatters, there is no resolution in sight, tempers are beginning to flare and disgust is the watchword.

The only comfort is cold. The same scenario is playing out all over the country right now. Illinois is just unlucky enough (of course) that the nationwide state revenue plunge happened right at the end of our long political civil war.

For instance, according to CNN, Arizona’s Republican governor is suing the Republican legislature for not sending her a budget bill. The legislature is holding onto the bill because the governor wants to veto it.

That has a familiar ring.

The Democratic-controlled Illinois Senate is refusing to send Democratic Gov. Quinn a crucial budget bill because Quinn won’t say whether he’ll sign it. State Rep. Lou Lang (D-Chicago) has put a hold on the capital projects bill for the same reason. The Senate also is refusing to pass a constitutional amendment for gubernatorial recall until Quinn says he’ll sign a controversial ethics bill that the governor publicly endorsed on numerous occasions.

In other words, Quinn won’t say he’ll sign these bills because the General Assembly won’t send them to him. And the General Assembly won’t send them until he agrees to sign them.

Oh, and did I mention that at this late date the Legislature and the governor are suddenly several billion dollars apart on defining what the state budget deficit really is?

I get that the problems are enormous. I understand that there are no easy ways out. I fully comprehend that solutions to gigantic problems can take time to sort through. And I certainly wouldn’t want to be in their position. It’s easy to criticize on my side of the fence.

But I’m way past sick and tired of being sick and tired. In fact, if the State of Illinois could talk, I’m pretty sure it would say the same thing.

Dad had another saying that we’d usually hear during long car trips when the five brothers couldn’t stop pestering each other. He’d turn around, wave his index finger at us and utter what he called his “Three S’s.”

“Sit down. Sit back. And shut up!”

As we got older, it became a joke. We’d all say it with him in mocking unison, while the car swerved this way and that because Dad had turned almost completely around in his seat.

Little did I know back then my chosen career would be to report on that very same behavior.

And like my brother, I won’t sit down, sit back and shut up. 

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