As if Alan Keyes wasn't embarrassing enough, with his hours-long diatribes that say almost nothing of interest to anyone in Illinois except a handful of zealots. No. He's gotta go off and verbally slime the vice president's daughter.

That's just great. It's not like Dick Cheney holds grudges or anything. Calling Cheney's lesbian daughter a "selfish hedonist" will have absolutely no repercussions.

If Keyes keeps this up, Cheney might just descend on Illinois one day with an armada of bulldozers and move all of our federal highways to Indiana, or another sufficiently "red" state.

Of course, the Cheney crack was only the latest public-relations disaster for the clueless clown from Maryland. There are so many I've lost track. Let's see, he likened women who have abortions to "terrorists," he flip-flopped on slavery reparations (formerly opposed, now in favor), he ridiculed Democratic nominee Barack Obama for not having any slave ancestors, he has thrown childish tantrums when journalists asked legitimate questions, and then he pulled the "selfish hedonist" stunt about Cheney's daughter. I'm sure I missed a few, but you get the idea.

At times like these, it's human nature to look for someone to blame. It's tough to blame Keyes because, well, Keyes is Keyes. He was, after all, totally consistent when he moved from saying all homosexuals are "selfish hedonists" to saying that Mary Cheney is a "selfish hedonist."

Anyone with an Internet connection and a half-hour to spare could have predicted this Keyes would turn out to be a complete embarrassment to the Republican Party and the state of Illinois.

I prefer to blame state Senator Dave Syverson (R-Rockford). Syverson, the treasurer of the Illinois Republican Party, actively recruited Keyes and then touted him to anyone who would listen.

I happen to like Dave Syverson. He is energetic and bright, and his constituents are well-represented, but he really blew this one. He also wasn't alone. Retiring U.S. Senator Peter Fitzgerald said he was "ecstatic" about Keyes' selection as his potential replacement. Illinois Senate Republican Leader Frank Watson actively lobbied nonplussed state-party chair Judy Baar Topinka to pick Keyes. State Senator Steve Rauschenberger (R-Elgin), who wants to run for governor in two years, helped Syverson recruit Keyes and then helped convince the state central committee to vote for him.

Still, this is Syverson's project. He has to wear the jacket. And just so nobody forgets, here's a Syverson quote roundup:

• A month ago, at Keyes' first rally, Syverson was recorded on tape loudly exclaiming, "Illinois is Keyes country!"

• "With Alan Keyes, you have someone who can energize our party's base and raise money," Syverson told the Rockford Register-Star.

• "Keyes is much more like Ross Perot on trade. He doesn't like current trade agreements. He'll appeal to people who are unhappy about manufacturing jobs leaving the country. He'll sell very well in Downstate Illinois," Syverson said to the Register-Star.

• From the Chicago Tribune: "And he will become an Illinoisan pretty quick, because his views are pretty in line with Illinois."

• Another Tribune quote: "I think everyone knows about him, his reputation. He is an articulate, compassionate individual, and I think he would be an excellent candidate for Illinois."

• "He [Keyes] believes that there is a void in Illinois and that Obama certainly does not represent Illinois. And he believes that he would be, if he were to run, much more representative of Illinois."

• "It's not necessarily where you live as much as who you represent and the views you represent."

• "Social issues are way down the level of priority in this election," Syverson told the Springfield State Journal-Register. "In Illinois, right now people are going to be voting their pocketbooks much more than in other election years."

Keyes, of course, hasn't talked about pocketbook issues. If Syverson had bothered to do any sort of due diligence, he would have discovered that Keyes almost never talks about pocketbook issues. To Keyes, once the nation gets its moral house in order, the economic stuff will magically take care of itself.

It's well known that Senator Syverson has long had his sights on the state-party chairmanship. But to have gambled his future on Alan Keyes, of all people, is perhaps the most bizarre act of political risk-taking by a usually normal human being that I have ever seen. I doubt there's a state chairmanship in his immediate future.

Rich Miller also publishes Capitol Fax, a daily political newsletter. He can be reached at (

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