Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Another “Just another pol” day for Senator Obama.

So, Stroger beats Claypool for the Democratic Party nomination for Cook County Board President, with Tom Hynes besting David Alexrod. Ballot theft helped along by wisdom over brains? Yes, we all wonder who had control of those ballots between the time they left the voting precinct and the time they were counted.

Basically, Claypool lost because his good friend Senator Barack Obama decided not to stick his neck out. Obama endorsed Giannoulias big time for Treasurer against the Speaker Madigan slated candidate, downstater Paul Mangieri. Obama’s endorsement carried the day for Alexi, helping him past some tough criminal associations and dumb statements to the media. Alexi’s opponent was white and Barack owed Alexi for all that money his family raised for Barack early on. So, it was no problem for Obama to take on Speaker Madigan.

Senator Obama endorsed Duckworth to help Senator Durbin and Cong. Emanuel carry the day and ultimately win the 6th CD general with Duckworth, or that is the general theory. Duckworth’s opponents are white, so no problem for Sen. Obama to endorse Duckworth.

When it came time for Obama to endorse Claypool, Obama balked. It was clear to Sen. Obama and everyone else that Claypool is the reformer. He is the guy who would improve the services provided by the County to low income people. Stroger would keep the patronage pipeline open. Someone tonight had the smart line, “Stroger is an African American who votes like an Irishman.” Stroger did not even support Harold Washington. But Senator Obama didn’t have the strength to take on his African- American base. In a sense, Barack played the race card. As the song goes, he turned his head and pretended he just didn’t see.

Finally, Obama thought he would help his friend Claypool on Monday night by telling people he “would vote for Claypool.” But, Senator Obama did not tell Blacks in his community to go out and support Claypool. Senator Obama weaseled out. It was a non-endorsement endorsement. Too little and too late. Senator Obama simply wasn’t going to take on his African-American base to help a white guy across the finish line. It was just too risky for this very cautious and successful politician.

Just another pol. Senator Barack Obama. But, most of the press will give him a pass on this. Why? They understand. They cut their own deals, they say. Why shouldn’t Barack. Seriously, they told me this. Barack is just another pol. A very bright one. A guy who likes to take public policy seriously and tries very hard to make the right public policy decision. And, a very articulate pol. But, still the media say, Sen. Obama is just another pol. What is wrong with that, they ask me?

I tell them. I wrote when Senator Obama was elected that he would be different. He would transcend politics. He would transcend race. They look at me and laugh. Come on, Jeff, they say: “He’s just another pol.”