Thursday, March 23, 2006

Adding Jackson to the Zorn, Claypool-Stroger, Obama Mix

Eric Zorn, Chicago Tribune columnist and blogger tells his gentle readers that he also is “disillusioned by [Senator] Obama’s fence-perching [on the Stroger-Claypool race].” And, he wonders, “what the effect on the election would have been if Obama had been less reserved and calculating.” [See here]. For my initial discussion of Senator Obama's decision to straddle the Claypool-Stroger fence, See here.

Zorn, unlike me, is set up for you to comment and discuss whether Senator Obama was right or wrong to stay out of a race I think the good Senator could have helped Commissioner Claypool win.

The win would have resulted in much better services for low income individuals in Cook County, who would be predominantly minority. Yes, a certain number of Stroger patronage workers who were not performing well and who may be predominantly minority would have lost their jobs.

But who is more deserving of the government’s attention and help? The larger number of recipients of Cook County Government services, e.g., those seeking medical attention at one of the three County Hospitals and those staying in a Cook County juvenile temporary detention center, or those who are getting political payback in the form of a patronage job for supporting Stroger or one of his political allies.

You should visit Zorn’s site and answer that question[See here], as well as whether Senator Barack Obama should be criticized for sitting on the fence. Be sure to tell him Berkowitz, or Public Affairs, sent you.

Further, if you have not been visiting Eric Zorn’s blog regularly, you should start, right away. Although he does not obsess on politics and public policy quite as much as I do, he is one of the most articulate, fairest and best writers of all bloggers and columnists, especially of those whose roots are in the mainstream media.

Finally, talking about those reformers who, like Senator Obama, chose to stay out of the arena on this one, there is Senator’s Obama’s good friend and fellow traveler on the left, Cong. Jesse Jackson, Jr. [D-Chicago]. Although not possessing quite the reformer image of Senator Obama, Cong. Jackson is far from your typical Democratic Party pol.

Congressman Jackson appears to have been “neutral,” in the Stroger-Claypool race. That was my impression and that was confirmed today when I checked with Teresa Caldwell, Deputy Communications Director to Cong. Jackson in Washington, DC.

Yet, Rich Miller, in his otherwise informative hard copy edition of Capitolfax today, tells us, “even though Jackson favored Claypool, that probably won’t hurt him in a mayoral bid.” Perhaps Rich knows something Teresa and I don’t know-- about Cong. Jackson and his relationship to the Claypool campaign, that is. We look forward to hearing from Rich on that.

Rich’s thesis in his Capitolfax hard copy edition today seems to be that the Democratic machine isn’t dead, especially when it teams up with a strong black politician. Of course, because then the machine and the black pol’s voting base are both moving in the same direction. Nothing to gum up the works, then. In the 2004 U. S. Senate Democratic Primary, with the machine purportedly going one way for Comptroller Dan Hynes, and the black voting base and good government types going the other way for then State Senator Barack Obama, the Democratic Party machine was buried.

Following up on Rich Miller’s speculation about a Cong. Jackson bid for Mayor in 2007, he would get the African American Democratic base, or at least the great majority of it. But, if he is taking on Mayor Daley, there will, of course, be many black Daley loyalists. John Stroger, for example, assuming he is healthy, would be a likely Daley supporter, as he has done so in the past [over Harold Washington], and more generally there are his ties to the Mayor's brother, John Daley, Chairman of the County Board Finance Committee.

But, if you follow the trends that Miller is talking about, the same winds of ethnic Black pride that helped even a non-reformer like Stroger win on Tuesday would be even more powerful at the back of Cong. Jackson, and presumably this time Senator Obama would not be “perched on a fence,” to borrow Zorn’s phrasing, but running with and on the side of his friend and ally, Cong. Jackson.

For the record, Teresa Caldwell told me today that Cong. Jackson has not yet decided if he is running for Mayor. But, I am looking forward to him coming back on our show to discuss that very issue. Teresa said she will get back to me on when we can schedule the Congressman for "Public Affairs."
Jeff Berkowitz, Show Host/Producer of "Public Affairs," and Executive Legal Recruiter doing legal search can be reached at