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12/13/2008
AXELROD, OBAMA, AND THE CULTURE OF CORRUPTION

David Axelrod is largely - and rightly - credited with successfully crafting Barack Obama’s campaign message machine and using it to great effect during the campaign.

But before he elected a president,  David Axelrod advised campaigns for a host of politicians including Chicago’s mayor Richard Daley. In fact, he considers himself an expert in “urban politics” - which translated means big city Democratic machine politics.

It is important to note that Republicans have their own “machines” - mostly in the south where “courthouse politics” employs many of the same patronage, kickback, and even “pay to play” schemes you routinely find in Democratic-run big cities. No party has a corner on corruption - which made the Democrat’s “outrage” in 2006 at the “Republican culture of corruption” so laughable.

But Axelrod just elected Mr. Clean as president. And it is important to get a handle on what a man who will be a close advisor to President Obama in the White House thinks of Patrick Fitzgerald’s corruption investigations.

Fitzy has taken down a host of pols in Chicago including aldermen, politically connected businessmen like Tony Rezko, and even 2 of Mayor Daley’s closest aides in city hall.

That last scandal involved serious violations of a court ruling that was supposed to clean up the city’s corrupt patronage system. Chicago mayors (and other big city pols) have used patronage as a means of controlling the Democratic party for decades. But a lawsuit against the practice in Chicago resulted in a ruling that most city jobs had to involve a fair hiring procedure where only the most qualified candidates would get government jobs.

Then in 2005, the Chicago Sun Times broke a fairly routine scandal involving the use of (or, in this case, the non-use) of city trucks - contracts to politically connected (and sometimes mobbed up) trucking firms that paid millions of dollars for little or no work. The city was entertained for weeks with stories of bribes being paid by city employees to steer truck contracts to specific firms, ghost payrolling, lolligagging truckers drawing taxpayer monies for going golfing, and other examples of extraordinary venality on the part of city politicians.

Once Fitzy got involved, the investigation expanded to include the entire patronage system in Chicago. And what prosecutors found was simply astonishing; 30 city pols who routinely violated the patronage law by doctoring documents to show interviews with candidates that never happened, resume tampering, and other fraudulent actions all to get loyal campaign workers city jobs. Fitzy’s investigation eventually reached deep into Daley’s office as two of his closest aides - including his patronage chief Robert Sorich - were convicted in the case.

Here’s how it worked:

In February 2005 a grand jury indicted Sorich for devising a scheme to “provide financial benefits, in the form of city jobs and promotions, in exchange for campaign work.” As part of this scheme, it charged, Sorich and other officials “corrupted the city’s personnel process” by awarding “jobs and promotions” to preselected candidates “through sham and rigged interviews.”

At the Sorich trial Kozicki, then in the buildings department, testified that as managing deputy commissioner he had altered 19-year-old Andrew Ryan’s interview rating to ensure that Ryan scored high enough to get a building inspector’s job for which other applicants were more qualified. Andrew Ryan is the son of Tom Ryan, secretary-treasurer of Carpenters Local 13, a union that was a major financial contributor to Daley’s 2003 reelection campaign.

And Axelrod? Here’s what the new Senior Advisor to the President had to say about it: back in 2006:

As Axelrod has said, a too-zealous prosecutor can look at normal political behavior and suspect impropriety. In a 2006 Vanity Fair interview, the Obama aide complained about Fitzgerald’s scrutiny of Chicago politics.

“He goes after fleas and elephants with the same bazooka,” Axelrod said. “At some point there’s a line … where you begin criminalizing politics in its most innocent form.”

When you practice the art of politics amidst such sleaze and corruption, egregious lawbreaking can, I suppose, seem “innocent.” But what does that reveal about the moral compass of people like Axelrod? When the rest of us are shocked and appalled at the routine and arrogant criminal conduct carried out by powerful people like Daley and Blagojevich, who obviously believe the rules followed by ordinary folk do not apply to them, do we really want moral pygmies like Axelrod anywhere near the seat of national government?

Indeed, Obama himself - now caught in the lie that he had no knowledge that any of his aides were meeting with Blagojevich’s people about his senate seat - has shown a curious lethargy about the entire Blagojevich scandal, especially because he’s known since a week after the election that Blago was shopping his seat to the highest bidder (See Jim Lindgren’s timeline of the scandal that shows how Obama first, made it known he wanted his good friend Valerie Jarrett to get the appointment and within 24 hrs of a phonecon involving Blago and one of his advisors - probably Emanuel - he yanked her name from consideration and gave her a job in the White House.)

The Obama team will vigorously deny they knew anything about Blago’s attempts to sell his senate seat but that just doesn’t pass the smell test. Given how careless Blagojevich was about the spread of such information, it is inconcievable that the president-elect, whose Chicago and Springfield connections are as good as anyone’s, wouldn’t have been aware of what was going on.

But why should they not come forward with the truth? They didn’t break any laws. The reason they won’t and can’t reveal their knowledge in this matter is because to do so would be to reveal a hole in their moral universe that shows that they considered Blago’s auction of the senate seat “innocent” and nothing more than routine political horse trading - routine for the culture of corruption in Chicago and Springfield. Obama was smart enough to see a train wreck coming and pulled his good friend Jarrett from consideration while still allowing Emanuel to have input into the selection process. In short, there were no illegalities but rather an incredible ineptitude in recognizing a moral problem with Blago’s criminality.

I am not sure what this portends for the next 4 years as far as the way the White House will operate. If you have a bunch of people who don’t know or can’t tell what’s moral or immoral as far as political actions are concerned, what kind of scandals will be breaking by this time next year?

By: Rick Moran at 11:41 am
6 Responses to “AXELROD, OBAMA, AND THE CULTURE OF CORRUPTION”
  1. 1
    B.Poster Said:
    9:17 pm 

    What kind of scandals will be breaking by this time next year? None. The main stream media will cover them all up and all alternative sources of mews media be shut down. Often times the main stream news media will cover things because they know if they don’t the alternative media will and they will look stupid. This is the reason the Blago scandal is being covered. By this time next year there will be no alternative news media. Obama and his Democrat ccontrolled Congress will have shut down all sources of media in America that are not pro-Obama. As such, there will be no scandals involving Obama or his allies breaking this time next year.

    If any scandals are breaking this time next year, they will be involving Obama’s enemies. No illegal or unethical actions involving Obama’s enemies? No problem. Team Obama and his friends in the news media will make them up. There will be no alternative news media to counter the charges.

  2. 2
    busboy33 Said:
    9:51 am 

    I still don’t see where y’all are getting the Immaculate Obama argument that you’re now shooting full of holes. Who said he was was incapable of telling a lie? Not him. Not his people. Not the biased liberal MSM (if they did I missed it, and I try to watch all the way to the fringe hippies so I would have expected to catch some extreme silliness like that). Not the blogs. Not his supporters.

    The only people I ever recall that claimed he and his “disciples” thought he walked on water were the Right — and it certainly appeared as if before, during, and after the election it was being used mockingly. As in, of course he’s not a saint, and only a fool would think he was. Heck, he lied to Browkaw (I think) about not smoking last week. Sure, he used the lawyer-dodge of careful choice in vocabulary, but I’d call it a lie, and so did everybody I know — and none of them dropped dead from shock. Most of them (myself included) chuckled knowingly, having told the same obvious psuedo-lie to avoid having to explain that we still wanted to have a friggin cigarette, and having been busted just as easily.

    I honestly don’t think I’ve seen a more perfect illustration of the Straw Man fallacy in reality.

    If some credible or sizeable person/group in the Middle/Left of America truly believed in his inability to ever be anything less than 100% completely forthright and truthful, I honestly missed it and please tell me. If not, I back to as long as he’s not taking, giving or agreeing to bribes . . . so what? I keep hearing “cover-up”. What’s being covered up?
    I understand the Opposition is excited at the prospect of getting their attack on, but much like the “He wasn’t born in America” meme this is (without anything more) absolutely NOT the hill the Right Opposition wants to stage the assault from. Between this and the “we’ll scuttle a million-plus American blue-collar jobs at Christmas to bust Unions immediately after giving the bankers a wheelbarrow full of gold” nonsense The Elephants in the Senate are pulling, it seems to an outsider like the Right is intentionally trying to alienate even more voters, and doing an effective job at it too.
    Despite any philosophical differences I may have with Repubs, I’ve always respected (or feared) their unrivaled skill at controlling the message, feeling the pulse of the populace and driving the public — much like McCain during the campaign, this is an entirely different beast than I remember.

    off-topic: saw McCain on Letterman the other day. Where the hell has he been for a year?!? THATS the guy I wanted to vote for — straight-talk John is back! Well, Palin would’ve nixed it for me, but McCain/AnybodyElse I’d have pulled the red lever over Obama/Biden in a heartbeat . . . and I like Biden. One of the few Blues I have the slightest respect for.

    Welcome back, Senator. I know I speak for alot of non-Reds when I say we missed you.

  3. 3
    Busboy's manager Said:
    3:11 pm 

    2busboy33 said “The only people I ever recall that claimed he and his “disciples” thought he walked on water were the Right”

    No wonder you’re a busboy. Where do you think the right got this from, clueless? Look, clown, by posting here you’ve simply shown how uninformed and utterly out of touch you people on the left are. First, it’s widespread that this occurred, from Obama’s own words (claiming God has sent him to help his people) to the AP phots of Obama with a Biblical glow behind him as Oprah and others refered to him as the chosen one. Search engines are your friend. Here’s some results that took me two seconds.

    1. Farrakhan
    Farrakhan on Obama: ‘The Messiah is absolutely speaking’
    YouTube - Farrakhan calls Barack Obama the Messiah

    Is Farrakhan on the right?

    2.

    3.

    Messianic rhetoric infuses Obama rallies - Ben Smith and David Paul …
    From fervent S.C. to frigid N.H, candidate-and-celebrity duo make base … Oprah Winfrey described Obama in near-messianic language in South Carolina, …
    http://www.politico.com/news/stories/1207/7281.html

    Were the right at his rallies?

    4. Democratic Wings: Gayle King on Oprah and Friends XM Radio is an …
    also for more on Oprah’s XM channel and Obama, see Oprah’s Messiah… Obama Links. Barack Obama: Oprah’s Messiah or False Prophet? Study Proves Media Bias …
    http://www.democraticwings.com/democraticwings/archives/politics/003463.php

    5. Collection here:
    http://obamamessiah.blogspot.com/

  4. 4
    RWA Said:
    11:33 am 

    Can we draft Mike Fortner now?

  5. 5
    Tim Said:
    6:00 pm 

    From Newt Gingrich:

    “I was saddened to learn that at a time of national trial, when a president-elect is preparing to take office in the midst of the worst financial crisis in over seventy years, that the Republican National Committee is engaged in the sort of negative, attack politics that the voters rejected in the 2006 and 2008 election cycles.

    The recent web advertisement, “Questions Remain,” is a destructive distraction. Clearly, we should insist that all taped communications regarding the Senate seat should be made public. However, that should be a matter of public policy, not an excuse for political attack.”

    For once I agree with him..

    I agree too. No call for trying to drag Obama into something he probably is clean on.

    Emanuel and “Advisor B” - that’s another question. Emanuel is probably safe but people are going to ask why he didn’t go to the feds when it became obvious Blago was going pay to play on the senate seat.

    ed.

  6. 6
    busboy33 Said:
    5:56 pm 

    @my manager:

    . . . these were jokes, right? the links . . . you’re making fun of the paintings and the people at these links, right?

    Please tell me you’re joking . . .

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