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I, Virginia Bergman, pledge not to vote for a male presidential candidate in 2016 just because he's male.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Can a Leader Spawned in Chicago Politics Be Expected to Clean up Washington?

“Obama has profited greatly from his careful climb through Chicago politics. But there is an old saying that in politics nothing is free -- there is just some question about when you pay the price. Obama is paying it now.” Michael Barone, RealClearPolitics.

It’s common knowledge that Barack Obama and most of the members of his inner circle from Chicago have long maintained ties with the corrupt Daley political machine. Nevertheless, Obama supporters continue to present their candidate as the harbinger of the new politics galloping into Washington to save our national government from corruption.

In covering the Blagojevich scandal, Michael Barone at Real Clear Politics this morning argues that “Chicago Politics Stains Obama.”

Comparing Gov. Blagojevich’s process of filling Obama’s senate seat in Illinois to that followed in 1960 by Gov. Foster Furcolo in filling JFK’s senate seat in Massachussetts, Barone finds both similarities and differences:

“That was a different tableau from the one we have seen unfold in Chicago this past week. Furcolo was an intelligent man, disappointed to have failed to win the state's other Senate seat and destined not to win elective office again. But he knew that it would not pay to buck the Kennedys.

“Rod Blagojevich, the governor who under Illinois statute has the power to appoint a senator to fill out the remaining two years of Barack Obama's Senate term, is made of different stuff. He was arrested last Tuesday, and the U.S. attorney filed a criminal complaint and made public tapes of Blagojevich seeking personal favors in return for the Senate seat.”

Barone analyzes the potential effect of the Blagojevich scandal on Obama’s reputation prior to his inauguration:

“He {Obama} has appeared to avoid all but small mistakes, and his theme of unifying the nation -- muted perhaps necessarily in the adversary environment of the campaign -- has come forth loud and clear.

“From all this the Blagojevich scandal is an unwanted distraction. It is a reminder that, for all his inspirational talk of hope and change, Obama, like Blagojevich, are both products of Chicago Democratic politics, which is capable of producing leaders both sublime and sordid.

“Obama has not always avoided the latter. For 20 years he attended the church of the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, now thrown under the bus, and for more than a decade engaged in mutually beneficial exchanges political and financial with the political fixer Tony Rezko, now in federal custody.

“Blagojevich, never a close political ally, has now been thrown under the bus, too, and seems likely to share Rezko's fate. Obama fans can point out, truthfully, that other revered presidents had seamy associates and made common cause on their way up with men who turned out to be scoundrels. Franklin Roosevelt happily did business with Chicago Mayor Ed Kelly, though warned that he was skimming off money from federal contracts. John Kennedy no more thought to deny a request from the Mayor Daley of his day than Obama has thought to buck the Mayor Daley of his.

“But as Kennedy supposedly said of a redolent Massachusetts politician, "Sometimes party loyalty asks too much." The man in question was the Democratic nominee for governor and was not elected. Until Patrick Fitzgerald released his tapes, Barack Obama never said the same of Rod Blagojevich.

“Obama has profited greatly from his careful climb through Chicago politics. But there is an old saying that in politics nothing is free -- there is just some question about when you pay the price. Obama is paying it now.”

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