Sunday, June 08, 2008

Obama and the Chicago Democratic machine

A John Kass column I found via Newsalert:
International change agent Barack Obama stood in Daley Plaza on Friday and paid public fealty to the political machine boss who holds this city in a wrought iron fist.

Obama waxed happily about Chicago possibly hosting the 2016 Olympics and joked about finishing his second term as U.S. president and hanging out with the boss, Mayor Richard Daley, a fellow who doesn't mind great change in Washington, as long as Chicago remains impervious to reform.

"In the interest of full disclosure, I only live two blocks away from where the Olympics are going to kick off in 2016, and so I am just going to be able to walk over there. I might have to rent my house," Obama said, meaning the house he bought when he was pals with Tony Rezko, not the White House where he'll be living. "I don't know how much it's going to be worth."

Even a great city like Chicago needs revamped infrastructure to hold an Olympics and that means a lot of steel. And I wondered about Barack, before he knew Daley, before he was backed by the machine, in the days when Barack was progressive and independent, working on the South Side, organizing steelworkers who lost their jobs when the mills shut down.
These days, with vague Orwellian slogans like "change" and polling and a national media obviously in thrall with him, there seems to be an effort to ignore Obama's Chicago political connections, to consider him as having been hatched, perhaps immaculately from a floating soap bubble, spotless and clean to the world.

But Chicago was where he was boiled down and honed, where the community organizer was rendered, where the politically independent junior senator began cozying up to the Daleys and their machine and the new presidential Barack was formed.

Illinois politics are dirty and slimy and known to all, but I'm sure Arizona politics aren't all that clean either, not when it comes to federal military land swaps for developer friends and fundraisers of Republican John McCain.

McCain has the war hero record, but he's also got SunCor Development Co. hanging around his neck. USA Today reported that he helped secure millions in federal funds for a land acquisition program that benefited a developer whose executives were big-time political donors.

If true, it sounds like a story that could have come out of Illinois politics, right out of our own state GOP, with the boss hog Republicans cutting deals with City Hall Democrats, everybody's head in the trough except for the taxpayers who fill it.
The name of this "game" called politics. One has to play with some less than ideal characters if one expects to advance in that world. That is what Obama has done, of course I won't fault him for that. In order to make change one has to get elected and once elected work with those for whom change isn't a priority. That in some respects can be considered leadership and influence.

Of course there are a lot of ideas that might jump out at you if you read the whole thing.

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