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“Whip-smart” or dumb as a rock?


By: Mark Glennon*


Illinois Comptroller Leslie Munger said her challenger in November’s election, Susana Mendoza, maybe is “not so good at math.” So, Kim Janssen of the Chicago Tribune decided to give Munger a pop math quiz. Munger failed, as Janssen sees it. She doesn’t know what seven times eight or nine times three is, he wrote.


It’s not the first time at petty gotchas from Janssen. In April, his headline screamed, “Cocky Rahm flubs Chicago flag quiz.” Emanuel was wrong about the origin of the three white stripes on the flag, which Janssen thinks warranted a story and a picture.


Get off it, Janssen. Your own editorial board wrote that Munger is “whip-smart” when they endorsed her for state rep. As an MBA student yourself, you know MBAs like Munger know how third grade multiplication. Every major officeholder you covers knows. People blank sometimes. People stumble. And nobody cares about the flag’s stripes.


Ask Munger instead about the specifics of the budget crisis. I have. Only a handful of people in state government know those numbers better than her. Distractions like this petty ambush on Munger are part of why Illinoisans vote in the dark about its fiscal crisis. Reporters should start with the obvious question that neither Janssen nor any reporter ever presses officials on: What possible tax increase would be enough to cover the state’s true deficit? That’s the central issue in this election.


It’s not inability with math that’s the plagues leadership in Illinois. It’s indifference to what the math says. Ditto for Janssen.


*Mark Glennon is founder of WirePoints. Opinions expressed are his own.