Republican U.S. Senate candidate Alan Keyes finished a booming stemwinder of a speech to his party's State Central Committee here on Thursday, then stepped away from the podium to find only a couple of people in the group rising to shake his hand.From Sun-Times:
That's largely how things went for Keyes--and for the party--for much of Republican Day at the Illinois State Fair, formerly a raucous event in the heady days when the party controlled most of the apparatus of state government.
Imported GOP Senate nominee Alan Keyes tried Thursday to maneuver around political cow patties at the Illinois State Fair, where party loyalists rallied behind him while the GOP's moderate wing still was sizing up his archconservatism.Reading the accounts of Mr. Keyes' downstate performance and the natives' reaction to it, I am reminded of the differing approaches to mental illness in urban and rural areas.
A modest fairground turnout, just a fraction of the size of a Democratic toast to Barack Obama a day earlier, heard Keyes belittle his senatorial rival for spurning offers of a half-dozen debates and present a fiery defense of his controversial views against abortion, gun control and the federal income tax.
In contrast to urban areas, rural people know the "crazies" in town, their stories and their families. They know whether a particular fellow is harmless or not and they often treat them with a level of kindness and politeness unseen in the big city because they don't want to embarrass the person or rest of the family -- "they're good people... but that Billy is just not right in his mind."
It seems to me that many of the down-staters are treating Alan Keyes like the nutty uncle of the IL-GOP. They respond with politeness and even kindness -- they wouldn't want to embarrass the rest of the Republican family by calling attention to his obvious madness -- but they clearly recognize that he is "touched in the head."
Right now folks downstate – or as Mr. Keyes calls it "south Illinois" – are trying to determine whether Mr. Keyes’ extreme beliefs and behavior are symptomatic of a deeper madness in conservative branch of the IL-GOP family tree.