Tuesday, July 17, 2012



Here is a note I wrote to Chicago Sun-Times Washington bureau chief Lynn Sweet in response to her Tuesday, 7/17/12 column “Romney’s ‘Chicago-style’ attack”:



I agree that Barack Obama is not the old time Chicago style political operator/ward healer that the rightward stretches of the media and the Romney campaign would have the American people believe. But to argue that

“…Obama vaulted from the state Senate to the U.S. Senate to the White House without coming up through the Chicago system of pinstripe patronage or ward politics”

is at best a half-truth.

President Obama started his political career as an independent and, one could argue, won his state senate seat as an independent. But when he ran for the U.S. House and got crushed by former Black Panther Defense Minister turned Machine regular Bobby Rush, Mr. Obama, being no fool, realized he had to make his peace with the powers that be in our fair city. He went about getting a political Godfather, in the person of then State Senate President Emil Jones, and started playing ball. It was, to a large extent, the support of Senator Jones and other elements of what is commonly, though exaggeratedly, referred to as the Machine that enabled then state Senator Obama to split the aforementioned Machine and defeat Dan Hynes in the primary for U.S. Senate. From then on, Barack Obama was a full partner, though in many senses a junior partner, of the regulars who run this city. How do you suppose, for example, a relatively obscure state senator got the opportunity to deliver the key note speech at the 2004 Democratic convention? Could he have done so without the support of the Daley family and other political operatives from Chicago?

Yes, Barack Obama is not the cigar chomping, vote stealing, contract dispensing, payroll padding pol that Ed Gillespie and Mitt Romney try to make us believe he is. But he is not the unsullied by Chicago politics, clean as a whistle independent his fans think he is, either. Barack Obama, like Bobby Rush, who administered the President’s first, and only, drubbing at the polls, or even the sainted Pat Quinn, is a very practical politician who was smart enough to know that any Democrat who wants to succeed in, or graduate from, Chicago politics must make his peace with the “Chicago politicians” who run this town.

Thanks, Lynn. And, by the way, my books, The Chairman and The Chairman’s Challenge, are much more accurate, and entertaining, “fictional” portrayals of Chicago Politics than is “Boss,” as good as the latter is.

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