Friday, June 26, 2009

What's in a Name?

We've heard the story before. Sometime during the Jurassic period, 8th District Congressman Phil Crane is battling alcoholism and losing. He is forced to publicly go into rehab. Then Crane is caught in bed with a 17-year-old congressional page. There is inevitable political fallout, Melissa Bean is the main beneficiary, and she defeats Crane in 2004.

True story? Nope. A Congressman named Crane was caught with a female page, but not Phil Crane. It was Dan Crane, the congressman representing the district in the Peoria area. It all happened in 1983, and Dan Crane was thrown out by the voters the following year.

So why does the story dog Phil Crane? One reason is Dan Crane is Phil Crane's brother. (The Crane boys had a sort on mini-political dynasty going, way back when.) And while part of the story is true (the part about alcohol rehab) the fact of the matter is that Phil Crane was never involved with a congressional page.

But someone watching Hannity last Wednesday might think otherwise. And the source of the bogus meme this time is no less than Ann Coulter.
HANNITY: He (Mark Sanford) may not be governor by the end of a couple of weeks.

COULTER: That's right. And even if he is, Republicans vote these guys out, generally. I mean, we'll see what happens with both him and (John) Ensign. But I mean, one — one point that I think needs to be made is politicians, both Republican and Democrat, the Republicans are gone now, so it's harder to remember names like Phil Crane, unlike Barney Frank, Teddy Kennedy. John Edwards whom, as I say, everybody knew he was having affair, and they're still running his campaign for president.

Phil Crane's political career began in 1969 when he won a special election to fill the seat of a congressman named Donald Rumsfeld. Crane ran for president in 2000 1980 only to be outgunned by Ronald Reagan. For better or for worse, Phil Crane's unique stamp on Lake County politics is still visible today. But he is now remembered -- even on the Right -- for a scandal that was not his. As long as Phil Crane is remembered, Phil Crane will be remembered for Dan Crane's scandal. The ironic reason being that Dan Crane has long since been forgotten.


edsullivanjr said...


Crane ran for president in 1980, you have a typo. I worked for him in 1992. We always heard the jokes about his brother and had to always be prepared. Politics aside, Phil Crane is a very intelligent person. In his heyday he could debate any matter of public policy with the best of them and his word was gold. Obviously the end of his career is not what anyone in our party anticipated. Rehab and the death of his daughter were devastating to him. Give Bean credit, she worked her but off to take him out. Phil came to a fundraiser of mine a few years ago and looked pretty good. Time heals all wounds I guess.

Before folks want to jump on me, I am just giving you a view of the man from someone that worked for him a long time ago before he started the tail end of his career. The person I worked for was not the person that Bean defeated.

Rep. Ed Sullivan

Barney Baxter said...

Hi Ed,
Thanks, I made the correction. Agreed, Bean beat Crane fair & square. I had opportunities to see Crane at some townhalls during his final terms. By then he was being caricatured without mercy. I knew the caricature was undeserved, it was undeniable he was propelled by a sharp grasp of both government and governance. The impression I take home from all of it is Crane just outlasted the sort of Libertarianism he passionately stood for. It's nice to hear he is doing well.