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8/26/2008
OBAMA PLAYING HARDBALL - THE CHICAGO WAY

Mayor Daley couldn’t have played it any tougher.

If you anger a big shot for the Machine in Chicago, you’re likely to lose your access to the patronage wagon that rolls around the city dispensing jobs and city contracts – a catastrophic turn of events for a local pol who depends on those goodies to keep his friends and associates happy and growing fat at the public trough. And things can get rougher for you if you’re not careful.

Own a restaurant? Amazing how the health inspector shows up and, no matter how clean the place is, writes you up for having rats in the kitchen and cockroaches on the plates.

Own an apartment building? Isn’t it amazing how the city building inspector – the guy who you usually wave to as he walks by your building during his “inspections” suddenly takes a keen interest in load bearing beams and termites infesting the woodwork.

Renewing your business licence can become a bureaucratic nightmare. Or, in one famous case (to be fair, few believe this story) one alderman was giving former mayor Richard J. Daley a hard time and city plows “forgot” to plow most of his ward after a big snow storm.

Barack Obama has shown in the past that he can be as hard as nails when it comes to political combat. You might recall that during his very first run for the state senate, he hired the best election law attorney in Chicago who showed up at the elections board one fine day and proceeded to systematically challenge the signatures on the nominating petitions of every one of his rivals. In the end, he had them all thrown off the ballot thus allowing him to run unopposed in the Democratic primary which was tantamount to being elected.

It shouldn’t surprise us then to see Obama take the gloves off and try a little political kneecapping of his opponents:

Sen. Barack Obama has launched an all-out effort to block a Republican billionaire’s efforts to tie him to domestic and foreign terrorists in a wave of negative television ads.

Obama’s campaign has written the Department of Justice demanding a criminal investigation of the “American Issues Project,” the vehicle through which Dallas investor Harold Simmons is financing the advertisements. The Obama campaign — and tens of thousands of supporters — also is pressuring television networks and affiliates to reject the ads. The effort has met with some success: CNN and Fox News are not airing the attacks.

Obama has also launched his own response ad, directly addressing Simmons’ attempt to link him to domestic terror.

The project is “a knowing and willful attempt to violate the strictures of federal election law,” Obama general counsel Bob Bauer wrote to Deputy Assistant Attorney General John Keeney last week in a letter provided to Politico. Bauer argued that by advocating Obama’s defeat, the ad should be subject to the contribution limits of federal campaign law, not the anything-goes regime of issue advocacy.


Like every single 527 ad I’ve ever seen, it skirts very close to the edge of calling for the outright defeat of a candidate. The question they ask – “Do you know enough to elect Barack Obama?” – answers itself. But as far as an overt call for Obama’s defeat, it’s not there and for Obama to imply that it is smacks of simple, hardball politics.

But Obama has gone one better and has written letters to various TV stations who are airing the aid, threatening them with loss of advertising revenue as they claim to be organizing their supporters to urge advertisers not to buy ads on stations that run the piece. He certainly seems a little huffy when he says that the ads are “an appalling lie, a disgraceful smear of the lowest kind on the senator’s patriotism and commitment to the rule of law.”

Where might the lie be, Senator? Is it the part that talks about what the Weather Underground did – setting a bomb off in the capitol, attacking armored cars and killing guards? That part is certainly true. Or was it that you didn’t serve on the Woods Foundation Board with Ayers? The ad doesn’t even mention your close collaboration with Ayers on the Annenberg Challenge Project. Nor does it mention the several panels you appeared on with Ayers – one of which was set up by your own wife.

Just what part of the ad is a “lie?” You are on a first name basis with an unreconstructed radical, an unrepentant terrorist who wishes he could have done more violence than he actually did. The American people certainly have a right to know why you don’t think this singular relationship – an unheard of connection that you jaw droppingly defend – should disqualify you from being president.

How did we get to the point in this country where people like William Ayers, his equally unrepentant wife Bernadine Dohrn, and other radicals who advocated the violent overthrow of the United States government in the 1960’s and ‘70’s have become “mainstream?” To be sure, Obama is not alone. Mayor Daley has defended Ayers:

“I don’t condone what he did 40 years ago, but I remember that period well,” said Daley, an Obama supporter whose father, Richard J. Daley, was a favorite target of the antiwar movement when he was mayor in the ‘60s. “It was a difficult time, but those days are long over. I believe we have too many challenges in Chicago and our country to keep refighting 40-year-old battles.”

Daley sees Ayers as a bridge to the Hyde Park liberals who are always on the lookout for a candidate to oppose him and many of his cronies. It would make sense for Hizzoner to cultivate a relationship with Ayers – despite the utter contempt in which he and the vast majority of his Hyde Park neighbors hold Daley. I don’t think Hizzoner would like to hear what they call him at those UIC cocktail parties.

But it also explains how the Democratic party Machine can get close to people like Ayers, not to mention their pandering to the Reverend Jeremiah Wright and that other South Side religious bigot Father Micheal Pfleger. It’s not what any of those radicals have said or done its what they can do for the party and the Machine that’s important.

But outside of Chicago, these people are political poison, rightly disgusting average Americans and calling into question the judgment of anyone who associates with them. Perhaps Obama sincerely didn’t realize that his relationship with these radicals would be such a big deal, that no one cares what Ayers did 40 years ago or that he feels the same today. If so, that kind of insularity is frightening – one more reason to question his ability for the job.

Obama has stupidly called additional attention to the Ayers issue by releasing a weak response ad that asks why John McCain is worried about what happened 40 years ago and that Obama was only 8 years old when Ayers was committing mayhem. Either he just doesn’t get the fact that it is Ayers brazen attitude that he didn’t do enough bombing back in the day that is the problem today or he thinks no one else believes it important. And the reference to how old he was when Ayers was bombing the Pentagon is just plain weird. No one is saying Obama helped Ayers bomb the Pentagon. The point, as hammered home in the ad, is that Obama calls this man a friend. Again, perhaps he just doesn’t think it important.

Of this he will no doubt be disabused shortly. The ad is running heavily in Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Florida. Unless TV stations are cowed by Obama’s hardball politics, it is likely this ad and others like it will run from now until election day. I have little doubt that the Reverend Wright will make a reappearance in the next few weeks as well, reminding the voter that despite everything that Obama says – all of his soothing platitudes and innocuous sounding tripe – this is a man who has associated with radicals for most of his adult life. And asking whether this is the kind of person we want as our next president is an absolutely legitimate exercise.

By: Rick Moran at 8:29 am
26 Responses to “OBAMA PLAYING HARDBALL - THE CHICAGO WAY”
  1. 1
    Michael B. Said:
    9:32 am 

    Two points: Obama is so accustomed to confronting any criticism with whining (and for the most part, getting satisfaction), that he continues this line of defense. And as Politico reports, “The effort has met with some success: CNN and Fox News are not airing the attacks.”

    Second, it is stunning that the people of Illinois put up with this kind of blatant corruption. Sure, a few heads are rolling now, but this is just the tip of the iceberg. What does it take to get a federal investigation, circa the 1970 Knapp Commission?

  2. 2
    Mark30339 Said:
    10:22 am 

    It’s great to get some local Chicago perspective on Obama politics. The Daleys were heavily into Gore2000. If Obama gets over the top, how will the Chicago machine manifest itself in the Obama administration?

  3. 3
    MarkButter Said:
    10:27 am 

    This article hit the nail on the head. People always have “different” friends among all their friends. Whether the politician is in NY, LA or New Orleans, being a politician is always going to make you associate with others from the mere fact that you control the purse strings. The attack focuses on the fact that Obama has worked with Ayers, launched his political career at Ayers house and the papers of the Annenburg Project among other things. He was doing this while Ayers was saying he was not repentent and wished he could have done more. When you hang around people like that and throw in Wright and Pfelger, the only statement that comes to mind for a 40 year old is: You can’t choose your family but you can choose your friends. So why’d you choose these folks?

    Most people can determine within 2 or 3 informal meetings what “type” and where a person stands on significant issues. To have hung around these guys for 15= years, the first question that comes to mind is: How could you not know?

    And in the end, that’s what will turn the election since his entire campaign has been about his “judgement.”

  4. 4
    Bald Ninja Said:
    10:27 am 

    I’m inspired by Obama’s commitment to free speach – Yes We Can (Shut you up)!

  5. 5
    tim Said:
    11:13 am 

    This is the kind of story you tell when you really have nothing else to go after. It is pure distraction, equivalent to p*ssing in the ears of your republican base. I feel so sorry for republicans because all their party has to offer them are cheap, underhanded distractions that have nothing to do with what really matters. Why don’t John McCain’s supporters talk about what they’re going to do to fix this country? You can never underestimate the republican’s capacity for steering the dialog toward the ridiculous and the irrelevant.

    But what else is new, Rick? The republican movement has served this country disastrously in the past 8 years,(not opinion, fact) why should your service to voters and rational thinking people be any different?

    This is spew. You sound more like losers with every passing day…keep it up..

    Having a president who is on a first name basis with a man like William Ayers goes right to the heart of Obama’s campaign. He doesn’t talk about issues. He brags about his judgment. Fine. His judgment in choosing to carry on a close, personal relationship with this guy is abominable.

    I pity you if you are so in the tank for your candidate that you can’t see that.

    ed.

  6. 6
    Obama Calls on the Justice Department to Censor Oppo ad « Thoughts Of A Conservative Christian Pinged With:
    12:35 pm 

    [...] I have more thoughts about Obama playing hardball and “The Chicago Way” here. [...]

  7. 7
    Rob Hahn Said:
    12:44 pm 

    The “best election law attorney in Chicago” would not even take Mr. Obama’s phone call if Barack was not already the “golden child” for this particular election. To use this as an example of Obama’s hardball tactics is misleading. This is machine politics through and through. The attorney knew the eventual outcome before he ever showed up at the elections board… That’s why he/she, (whoever it is), is the “best election law attorney in Chicago”. Let’s give credit where credit is due. Frankly, I would have more confidence in Obama as commander in chief if he WAS behind the hardball politics…

  8. 8
    Roxie Said:
    1:38 pm 

    So MoveOn.org handing out Obama 2008 bumper stickers and buttons is okay under 527 statutes, but ads against Obama are not? Glad we got that straight.

  9. 9
    Aaron Said:
    2:10 pm 

    At Saddleback Church John McCain mentioned a couple touching moments with one of the guards in his camp. Oh my goodness, it just occurred to me that the guard was a communist! I can’t believe that the right-wing MSM has not pressed him about this admitted relationship with a communist! McCain has definitely not addressed this to a degree that I’m satisfied with. Why is he avoiding the issue?

    I know from the cold war days that communism, like radicalism, is a virus-like contagion. You get close to it, and zap! I’m sure McCain is a communist.

  10. 10
    Chuck Tucson Said:
    3:37 pm 

    “No one is saying Obama helped Ayers bomb the Pentagon.”

    Of course not Rick. But if some people, you know, get that impression, that’s cool.

  11. 11
    Surabaya Stew Said:
    4:34 pm 

    For a long time, I have been confused as to why the connection between Obama and Ayers has been brought up so many times on this blog. The easy explanation is that the Ayers connection is a straw man argument against Obama, but with a man as intelligent as Rick, such a scenario seems so one-dimensional. In my opinion, this is a wing-nut argument, being repeated by a blogger who is clearly better than that. After all, does anybody serious hold McCain morally accountable for being friendly with the Keating 5? Of course not, since he didn’t do anything wrong. (If only we could hold Bush accountable for his friendship with the House of Saud!) The American voter may be persuaded to vote against Obama on many issues, but don’t believe that the past sins of an associate will disqualify a politician automatically.

    If I may be bold, the only thing that makes sense in explaining this (and a number of other posts) is that Rick has known about Ayers for a long time before Obama, is fully aware of his connections in Chicago politics and academia, and has been disgusted by him for many years. Taken in context with his extensive knowledge (and dislike) of the Chicago Machine, it makes sense that being anti-Obama would extend far beyond disagreements of his politics. Am I right?

    THE KEATING FRICKING 5! THEY DIDN’T BLOW ANYTHING UP YOU NINNY!

    Ed.

  12. 12
    Bald Ninja Said:
    5:22 pm 

    So, you liberals out there – if McCain had associations in his past with someone who had bombed an abortion clinic it wouldn’t be fair game? You wouldn’t bring it up? You don’t think it would indicate a character flaw or ANY insight into his political leanings? Be honest with yourself.

    And Chuck, you may find this hard to believe but my primitive conservative brain can distinguish between someone who USED and ADVOCATES the use of force/terror to further their political goals (Ayers) and someone who ASSOCIATES with such miscreants to further his own political aspirations.

  13. 13
    Michael B. Said:
    7:16 pm 

    To Sure-I’ll-Buy-You-Stew (no thanks, by the way),

    Let me break this down for you…

    from Wikipedia: “The Ethics Committee ruled that the involvement of McCain in the scheme was also minimal, and he too was cleared of all charges against him.[17][16] McCain was criticized by the Committee for exercising “poor judgment” when he met with the federal regulators on Keating’s behalf.[6] The report also said that McCain’s “actions were not improper nor attended with gross negligence and did not reach the level of requiring institutional action against him….Senator McCain has violated no law of the United States or specific Rule of the United States Senate.”

    Many say that McCain was not exhonerated to prevent it from being a purely Democrat scandal. But this one-time error in judgment does not, in any way, approach the 20+ year relationship (extended error in judgment) with an unrepentant terrorist. To equate the two is a stretch, even for kool-aid drinkers.

    Conservatives don’t worship McCain. We acknowledge all his warts, and have accepted his as the alternative to a truly bad person. Furthermore, most conservatives defend Obama for the various unsubstantiated charges alleged against him (Muslim, unpatriotic, etc.). If you want to support him, fine. But can’t you at least acknowledge that a long-term relatonship with Ayers is poor long-term judgment? Or can you at least admit that it is a valid thing to question?

  14. 14
    Chuck Tucson Said:
    8:54 pm 

    Well, which is it Bald Ninja… is it force or terror? Your lame logical fallacy of a comparison could just as easily be applied to countries as well. Say, the US and Pakistan? You say you’re a conservative… what is it that you actually conserve anyway?

  15. 15
    Surabaya Stew Said:
    1:25 am 

    Thank you all for your comments. My point was not the nature of Obama’s association with Ayers, nor a direct comparison with the “KEATING FRICKING 5”, only that a lot of time and effort seems to be directed on what is in my opinion, a minimal scandal based on past associations that have no direct bearing on any of Obama’s political platform.

    To answer Michael B., yes, I do think it was poor long-term judgement, albeit done for short-term gain. Enough to disqualify him? Not after Clinton and Bush Jr. have lowered the standards of the presidency! After those 2 jokers winning 4 elections over more qualified candidates, it is hard to talk about Obama’s thin resume or dumb sayings as being a serious handicap to the Oval Office. The only thing that will bring him down is character assassination.

    Wouldn’t the interests of Republicans and Conservatives would be better served by focusing on something about Obama that really matters in the minds of most voters? Asking an Independent or undecided American that they should be concerned about a co-founder of the Weather Underground hanging with Obama apparently doesn’t seem to register. If the charge were ever going to stick, it should have done so by now. (Obama met Ayers in 1995, apparently with their last meeting coming in 2002, so a “20+ year relationship” seems a bit of a stretch.) By all means this is a valid question to ask, but I refuse to believe that an America who forgave our president for his close and unwise associations with the House of Saud and other terrorists is going to get worked up about this.

  16. 16
    MikeCA Said:
    2:03 am 

    There is the question of McCain’s relationship with the convicted felon G. Gordon Liddy. Liddy has been a long time supporter of McCain. Liddy hosted a fund raiser for McCain. McCain has appeared on Liddy’s radio show and spoken highly of Liddy. In addition to be a convicted felon for the Watergate break in, Liddy plotted the murder of journalist. In the 1990’s Liddy advised listeners on killing Federal law enforcement officers. Perhaps someone should ask McCain whether he supports murdering federal law enforcement officers like his good friend and supporter G. Gordon Liddy.

    And if you really want to swift boat McCain, you could turn lose these nuts http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vFM1xqqTX_g
    or even these nuts
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SRvXEsW4Fgg&feature=related

    Now those would make some good swift boat style adds.

  17. 17
    Michael B. Said:
    7:57 am 

    Mr. Stew, first of all, past elections should not set the standard for the current election (i.e. don’t try to justify bad behaviour by pointing out worse behavior). Furthermore, its definitely arguable about who the most qualified candidate was in the past 4 elections. But with regards to the thin resume, I can think of no candidate in history that has a less qualifications (I’m not a history expert, but “community organizer” has to be the thinnest resume ever).

    More importantly, I believe that you are dead-wrong in your assessment that independents and undecideds don’t care about the Ayers relationship, and Obama’s poll numbers dropping speak to the veracity of that.

    Finally, the relationship to the House of Saud is one that has existed since 1945, so a whole bunch of presidents have been forgiven for that association. What other terrorists are do you refer to?

  18. 18
    Bald Ninja Said:
    8:21 am 

    Force or terror? When you’ve bombed the government and wish you had done more I’d say both.

    Logical fallacy? I’m not equating Ayers with Obama – what I am saying is that it’s legitimate to question a candidates motives and principles who would knowingly and willingly associate with someone like Ayers. You know, Obama’s vaunted JUDGEMENT. Does this association automatically ‘disqualify’ Obama – no, but it sure does make me ask questions.

    So why did Obama have such a close public relationship with Ayers? I doubt Obama shares the same outlook as Ayers on America but Obama’s is probably closer to Ayers than my own. That or his relationship with Ayers was politically expedient at the time and it simply didn’t bother him that Ayers is an unrepentant terrorist – which would paint Obama as someone willing to do whatever it took to forward his political career and not as the pure idealistic political crusader who will reform our government and nation.

    Obama’s association with Ayers is certainly not the end-all-be-all argument against voting for him – nor is it one of the best arguments – but I don’t see how considering it as a factor is crazy or unfair.

  19. 19
    No Runny Eggs » Blog Archive » The Morning Scramble, Part 1 (Death of the PUMAs Edition) - 8/27/2008 Pinged With:
    9:11 am 

    [...] Rick Moran identifies old-style Chicago Machine politics in the Obamination Express’ attempt to derail the following ad linking Obama and domestic terrorist/Obama family friend Bill Ayers… [...]

  20. 20
    Quaking Conservative Said:
    9:53 am 

    This stuff used to work in Chicago and to a certain extent it still does. Its great that he’s drawing attention to this. It brings it to top of mind with the voters.

  21. 21
    Chuck Tucson Said:
    10:03 am 

    Bald Ninja,

    Republicans talking about Ayers in the same sentence as Obama has the exact same (and very much intended) effect as saying, “Obama associates with terrorists and if he loves terrorists so much how can he protect America from them?”

    It’s a lame attempt to sway independent voters, like myself. When I hear this non-equating equating, the only thing that comes to my mind is, oh, the Republicans think I’m retarded. What else is new. If I wanted to feel like I was being spoken to like a child, I would go to youtube and listen to some speeches from GW Bush.

    Being an independent is awesome because I can vote for whomever I want. If you really want to sway opinion, start talking about what it took to buy half of the Senate Democrats votes in the Telcom Bill, including Obama. Or, follow Obama’s campaign donations. Or, talk about Bidens views on personal privacy. Hell, he’s the primary reason for PGP for Christsake.

    With this Ayers crap you guys are DOING IT WRONG. You’re making yourselves look like condescending hypocrites. I know your brain is screaming “but but but Ayers! Terrorist!” But my brain screams Saudi Arabia and George Bush when I hear about Ayers.

    Try focusing on something that actually matters. Something like privacy rights, personal liberty, and money. I know it’s hard because the Ayers story seems SO tasty, but it’s just not. Sorry.

  22. 22
    DoorHold Said:
    12:21 pm 

    If it were ONLY about Ayers, some of the points made here that focus on trying to minimize that relationship could have had some validity. Since it’s more about how Obama got from “there” to “here” and ALL the associations that lead here, picking apart one association appears to miss the point.

    A more valid argument against bringing any of this up is … Obama’s past associations and political machinations won’t matter in the end. Such issues didn’t keep Bill Clinton from getting elected, twice. Obama’s sparkling personality is all that matters, to enough people, to get him elected.

  23. 23
    Michael B. Said:
    1:18 pm 

    Chuck, show me a poll where Obama stops losing ground, and I’ll agree with you that this story is “just not” tasty. Until then, let me share with you one of my favorite sayings: wishing it wasn’t so, doesn’t make it not so.

  24. 24
    Bald Ninja Said:
    2:08 pm 

    Point taken Chuck.

    If Ayers were the only skeleton in Obama’s closet then this line of ‘attack’ would be weak indeed. There does seem to be a pattern of Obama’s ‘poor judgement’ relative to his ‘past’ associations. It seems your problem is with the ad Obama is currently trying to have squashed – I think the more interesting point of Rick’s post is what Obama’s response to it reveals about him. The quality or efficacy of that particular ad is another issue (I haven’t seen it, so I can’t speak to it’s lameness or awesomeness).

    Like I said, there are much more convincing and meaty arguments against Obama – and many of them more directly point to his poor judgement than bringing up Ayers.

  25. 25
    Surabaya Stew Said:
    3:18 pm 

    Thank you Chuck Tuscan for making the point about this jerk Ayers more eloquently than I have been able to. By the way, as a registered “Blank” voter myself, I also feel relieved not to have to carry the water for any political party. Naturally, a bit of water-carrying is done for each individual candidate I support, but I try to be honest and open-minded about it.

    As for asserting that past elections should set the standard for this election, I meant no such thing. However, one can’t argue that Clinton was more qualified than Bush Sr. in 1992, or that Bush Jr. was more qualified than Gore in 2000. In both cases, the less qualified candidate won; nobody will seriously assert the opposite. While my statement that Dole in 1996 and Kerry in 2004 were more qualified than Clinton and Bush Sr. may be open to question, a good case can be made to prove that I am correct. Looking back at past elections is a highly imperfect study, but it can be illuminating.

    Furthermore, Obama’s drop in the polls has no definitive cause behind it, but it could be largely due to dissatisfied Hillary supporters. Again, i have heard nothing to support that Ayers is a major or minor factor in the changing mood of the voters towards McCain, which is why I question the wisdom of making it a major deal. Is it a point against Obama? Yes, but it is 1 of 100 that could be made, not at all a knockout blow. (Aside from the Reverend White, Obama has has no potential campaign ending moments.)

    Michael B., who has less qualifications; a man with 6 years as Texas Governor, or a man with 8 years in the Illinois State Senate and 4 years in the US Senate? Exactly, so give us a break on Obama being the least qualified candidate in history! At least, it is debatable subject.

    Finally, the USA has indeed been too close to the House of Saud since 1945; I don’t forgive ANY president for that association. We have done so much for these disgusting people, (I don’t mean the people of the KSA, just their rulers) and we are being screwed royally by them. However, Bush Jr. takes Saudi love to a whole new level; he and the entire Bush family have been tight with them for decades, and our foreign policy these past 7.5 years reflects that. I am hopeful that Obama or McCain will change our relationship with them, but am sadly confident that we will remain too close for comfort with the KSA for many years to come.

  26. 26
    Right Wing Nut House » OBAMA’S FULL COURT PRESS AGAINST FREE SPEECH Pinged With:
    10:47 am 

    [...] HALFWAY HOME AND DEMS STILL CAN’T FIND UNITY THE RICK MORAN SHOW: DAVID FREDDOSO - LIVE OBAMA PLAYING HARDBALL - THE CHICAGO WAY DNC PREVIEW: ‘COME HOME, AMERICA’ REDUX OBAMA’S COMPLICATED DANCE WITH THE [...]

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