The ongoing uproar over Darren Bailey’s 2017 claim that the Holocaust “doesn’t even compare to a shadow” of the lives lost through abortion reminded me of a scene in an old movie called A Bronx Tale.
The allegation Bailey made on Facebook was exploded thanks to a brutal TV ad from Gov. JB Pritzker’s campaign. The ad begins with an announcer watching a used video clip of Bailey saying he would not allow a woman who has been raped or incestated to have an abortion. “Maybe you thought you heard everything Darren Bailey had to say about abortion,” the voiceover narrator says before the clip plays. “But that’s not all Darren Bailey said,” the person continues as the newly unearthed clip is shown to viewers.
The closing tagline, “Darren Bailey, Too Extreme For Illinois” then flashes on screen. That’s pretty close to the same language used in Democratic ads that aired during the Republican primary.
There are those who say if Pritzker is using something so over the top in August, then oh my god, by the time the campaign kicks off this fall he must have some really strong opposition research in store for voters.
That could very well be, and it doesn’t help much right now that Bailey’s billionaire GOP chief benefactor Richard Uihlein hasn’t contributed money directly to Bailey’s campaign since the primary, so attacking when your opponent can’t fight back in kind has its perks .
Bailey released a video response to another of Pritzker’s television ads (blaming him for hypocritically taking millions in government farm subsidies while opposing other government welfare programs), which has so far garnered hundreds of views, not the millions that would see something on TV.
In any case, this is a real political brawl. And it didn’t stop there. Bailey initially retracted his comments, saying, “The Holocaust is a human tragedy like no other. In no way have I attempted to belittle the atrocities of the Holocaust and its taint in history. I wanted to emphasize the tragedy of millions of babies being lost.”
Then the next day, Bailey told Fox 32’s Dane Placko that his words were “taken out of context as usual” and blamed reporters.
Then Bailey was asked by a Fox Valley radio station if he needed to apologize. Instead, Bailey laughed and said, “The Jewish community itself told me I was right,” and went on to claim that “the Jewish rabbis” he met told him he was “actually right . ”
Bailey inexplicably kept the story alive, and Pritzker took advantage, slamming into his opponent at every opportunity. And since then, the Pritzker campaign has evolved by providing reporters with some opposition research on other Bailey Facebook posts. And the Illinois Muslim Civic Coalition recently issued a press release complaining that “several social media posts by gubernatorial candidate Darren Bailey and his wife are Islamophobic, anti-Semitic and xenophobic.”
And that brings me back to the film, which follows a young Italian-American boy as he learns life lessons from those around him, including some gangsters.
In the scene, a biker gang known for busting bars unknowingly walks into a bar owned by a mob and, after being told they can stay for a few beers, start causing trouble. The top mob boss tells the bikers to leave. After being rudely rebuffed, he quietly walks to the front door and locks it, then turns and looks at the bikers: “You can’t go now,” he says.
Immediately, the mob boss’ subordinates pour through the back door with baseball bats, pistols, and other tools of destruction and beat up the bikers, who are then dragged outside and beaten even more, including by bystanders.
And that’s basically how the rest of this campaign will play out, even if/if Bailey’s coffers get replenished. Pritzker never took his foot off Bruce Rauner’s political throat four years ago, despite being way ahead in the polls, and he has beaten Richard Irvin on and off long after Irvin was clearly unviable in the recent GOP primary. That’s how they roll over there. Add that Pritzker helped found a Holocaust museum and abortion rights is a subject that seems to animate him, and you can understand the desire to go all out on the subject.
Rich Miller also publishes Capitol Fax, a daily political newsletter, and CapitolFax.com.