Wednesday, August 13

OBAMA: THE MAN AND THE MACHINE

Don Rose, Chicago Daily Observer - Obama was elected to the Illinois Senate as an independent Democrat - as one must in Hyde Park - by winning the primary with no help from the regular organization. But, like all but a tiny handful of earlier independents, he never ran an "anti-machine" or "anti-Daley" campaign.

He was welcomed into the Dem caucus, which needed his vote, and in return got help for his own progressive legislation. There's a long tradition of this trade- off, going back to Abner Mikva and Dick Newhouse, his progressive predecessors. . .

Obama also was mentored by one of the hackiest hacks, Senate Majority leader Emil Jones, in a relationship that eventually helped him win the U.S. Senate primary.

That race, too, was independent of the Machine . . .

Minimally, Obama had to reach detente with the regulars to win the general election - as Carol Moseley Braun and Paul Simon did before him. (Later Daley leaped at the chance to endorse Obama for president, just to keep him out of Chicago and any thoughts of the 5th Floor.)

Virtually all the independent progressives elected to Springfield or Washington paid little attention to corruption in Chicago. . .

Only Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr. keeps at it - and that's because he still has his eye on the 5th Floor.

When he endorsed a couple of the worst Machine hacks, including Cook County Board President Todd Stroger, it was less an act of obeisance to Daley than to the African American political base. But many read it as homage to the Machine.

Once again, though he has a cooperative relationship with the Machine, he keeps another foot planted with independents and reformers such as Mikva, Leon Despres and former Washington Corporation Counsel Judd Miner. . .

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