Wednesday, October 22, 2008

For the record, Obama is no stranger to "dirty politics"

In his autobiographies, Obama recounts how, in his first election (a paltry dozen years ago), he swayed people over to vote for him on his message of hope and change.

The truth is quite different.

As the New Yorker reports: "Privately, however, [Obama] unleashed his operators. With the help of the Dobrys, he was able to remove not just Palmer's [his primary political opponent] name from the ballot but the name of every other opponent as well." Hardly "hope and change" - all he did was kick everyone off the ballot so he ran unopposed.

And that example of Obama's embrace of "dirty-trick" politics is not an outlier. It was simply one of many examples that were regular occurrences over Obama's political career. As the Wall Street Journal points out:

The act of throwing an incumbent off the ballot in such a fashion does not fit neatly into the narrative of a public-spirited reformer who seeks to make people less cynical about politics.

But Mr. Obama's offenses against the idea of a "new politics" are many, and go well beyond hardball election tactics.


The most dramatic examples of Mr. Obama's commitment to old-style politics are his repeated endorsements of Chicago's machine politicians, which came in opposition to what people of all ideological stripes viewed as the common good.

In the 2006 election, reformers from both parties attempted to end the corruption in Chicago's Cook County government. They probably would have succeeded, too, had Mr. Obama taken their side. Liberals and conservatives came together and nearly ousted Cook County Board President John Stroger, the machine boss whom court papers credibly accuse of illegally using the county payroll to maintain his own standing army of political cronies, contributors and campaigners.

And it doesn't end there. In March 2007, Obama endorsed Dorothy Tillman, another clearly corrupt "Machine" politician running against a reform-minded independent candidate, Pat Dowell.

Despite the media narative to the contrary, Barack Obama certainly did not "rise above" the scandals of Chicago politics. He was right there, in the midst of it.

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