Who Sent Him?

I have no idea whatever whether tarring Sen. Barack Obama as a liberal would be a successful campaign tactic as suggested in the first negative biography of the Illinois senator:

The first serious negative biography of Senator Barack Obama casts the Democratic nominee as a fake reformer and a real liberal.

“The Case Against Barack Obama,” by National Review’s David Freddoso, blasts Obama for failing to take on the Chicago machine, for listening to “radical advisors,” and for backing “doctrinaire liberal” causes from teachers unions to abortion rights.

It does not, however, compare him to Paris Hilton, or dwell at length on his religion or race – making the substance of “The Case Against Barack Obama” sound a bit unfamiliar amid a campaign cacophony of hyperbolic web ads, alleged race cards, and viral smears.

Freddoso says John McCain’s campaign and Republicans at large are making the wrong case against the Illinois senator.

“I don’t think you beat Obama by saying that he’s Paris Hilton,” said Freddoso, a reporter for the conservative magazine National Review, referring to McCain’s latest advertising campaign. “The more important thing is really to look at is he who he says he is? Is he really this great reformer?”

It seems to me that the Republicans have done so much damage to their own image and that of conservatism, generally, that accusing somebody of being a liberal probably doesn’t have the sting that it did just a few years ago.

There’s an anecdote about Ab Mikva that I think highlights the fundamental conundrum of the Obama candidacy:

Unfortunately, his kind demeanor was no help to Abner when he first entered the legislative branch at the beginning of his career. In fact, his career as a legislator had a rather inauspicious beginning. One evening in 1948 he walked into the office of the Democratic War Committeeman and told him that he wanted to do volunteer work for Adlai Stevenson and Paul Douglas. The Committeeman took the cigar out of his mouth, glared at Abner and asked: “Who sent you?” When Ab said, “Nobody sent me”, he put the cigar back in his mouth and said: “We don’t want nobody that nobody sent.”

I’m not the first to wonder who sent Sen. Obama nor am I the first to give this answer: Emil Jones sent him. Emil Jones is currently the president of the Illinois Senate, is as responsible as anyone for the mess in Springfield, and was instrumental in Sen. Obama’s campaign for the Senate. The connection hasn’t gone unnoticed:

(AP) The president of the Illinois Senate is sitting in his statehouse office, talking in gravelly tones about political strategies and counter-strategies. Out of nowhere, the theme from “The Godfather” begins playing.

It turns out to be the ringtone on his cell phone – an appropriate song for the man who amounts to Barack Obama’s political godfather.

Emil Jones Jr. helped Obama master the intricacies of the Legislature. When Democrats took control of the state Senate, Jones, though he risked offending colleagues who had toiled futilely on key issues under Republican rule, tapped Obama to take the lead on high-profile legislative initiatives that he now boasts about in his presidential campaign.

And when Obama wanted a promotion to the U.S. Senate, Jones provided critical support that gave the little-known legislator legitimacy, keeping him from being instantly trampled by the front-runners.

“He’s been indispensable to Barack’s career. He wants to see a black president before he gets called home,” said fellow state Sen. Rickey Hendon, a Democrat.

That Sen. Obama is beholden to Sen. Jones and and owes his rise in politics to the most virulently anti-reform forces in Chicago politics probably isn’t an asset to Sen. Obama. We’re used to that sort of thing around here but I’m not sure the rest of the country will be so understanding.

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  • PD Shaw Link

    I just discovered a few weeks ago that Obama was the sponsor of a bill to kill a project that I had done a lot of work on a few years ago — a sewage recycling and energy recovery project. I was surprised that I hadn’t recognized Obama, but he became a sponsor the last day the bill passed out of the Senate — he had not really had anything to do with it, except taking credit.

    If Obama had been the real force behind the bill, I would vote against him for President — the bill was the worst combination of bad science, bad environmentalism, NIMBYism and government cronyism. As it is, I don’t think it meant much of anything other than Emil Jones thought the name of the bill sounded nice.

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