March 4, 2008

Obama's Illinois history

I just came across this interesting article by Todd Spivak, who 8 years ago was a budding reporter in Chicago who lived in Obama's district when Obama was a lowly state senator just beginning his political career.

Spivak's behind the scenes account of Obama's rise through Illinois politics including the role of Senate President Emil Jones played in his rapid rise is quite interesting.


At 3/07/2008 12:55 PM, Blogger Saul said...

I hated that article. The tone was petty and the whole article was one-sided. You can never find a politician about whom no one has complaints, and Obama is obviously no different. But the complainers that the author quotes don't seem to be able to muster up anything serious or substantive. At the same time, it appears that the author didn't bother to interview any constituents or other politicians (there are many of both) who think that Obama actually did a good job and accomplished things in his district.

While the fact that Emil Jones helped Obama is interesting, it doesn't necessarily diminish Obama's talent and hard and good work. The author makes Obama's rise out to be a big conspiracy engineered by Jones in order to get legislative "steak" passed. And what kind of "steak" projects does Jones typically want money for? More money for public education in the poorest districts of Chicago, where, because of the fact that education is funded through property taxes in Illinois, poor districts typically get shafted. The author implies that there was some corrupt quid pro quo going on between Jones and Obama, but offers only innuendo and absolutely no evidence. Just disgusting.

The dramatic "crescendo" of the article is when Obama "screams" at the author (you can see what must have been the original title of the article in the url). And why was Obama mad at him? Because the author opened an earlier article by saying that Obama talked "jive". What a cheap and derisive comment to make about a black politician. And it's even more derisive if the author of the article is not black, which I don't believe he is (though I am not 100% sure of that). Obama denied that he used any of the "jive" comments that the author claims Obama made, and the author offers no direct quotes or other evidence that Obama did say those things. If I were Obama, I would have been mad, too.

It's a real shame that some people in Texas might have been inspired to vote against Obama because of this crap.

At 3/07/2008 1:35 PM, Blogger The Inside Dope said...

I don't think the piece takes anything away from Obama, at least in my opinion. It's just a glimpse into the real world, and no doubt might upset anyone who may think that Obama decended from the heavens on a golden chariot. (Not that Saul does, mind you.)

I find the article illuminating and not surprising, given that after all, Obama WAS a politician in Illinois.

And again, there's nothing inherently wrong with Jones boosting Obama perhaps ahead of the pack.

The guy had talent, Jones knew it, and tried to make the most of it.

In light of what's happened since then, I'd say Jone's shrewd move has been more than justified.

Obama simply can't be the saint some people may think he is. He's got three strikes against his sainthood, he's a human being, he's a politician, and was a politician in Illinois.

But that said, so what? He's something beyond the run of the mill politician, worlds ahead of some of the politicians that have been in charge, and light years better than Bush or McCain.

He's still a remarkable and by all accounts gifted person, and I beleive he has what it takes to be a very effective leader and president.

A little gritty truth shouldn't change that.

At 3/07/2008 6:30 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Smart, confident and charismatic" - the article is right on. However, Obama has little political history, experience or success.

He certainly has the ability to stir people in a manner of JFK, but he also has the ability to screw things up like Carter (due to the inexperience, that Carter also had).

Obama is a game of political Russian-roulette - at the highest level.

If one asked, "why Obama?" and you had to answer with something that he has done, something that he has accomplished, rather than something that he said - could people answer (logically)?


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