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Sunday, November 9, 2008

Barack Obama and the Chicago Way

The pick of Rahm Emanuel as President Elect Barack Obama's Chief of Staff has been met with mixed reaction. Both critics and praisers alike miss the most troubling aspect of the Emanuel pick. It appears only John Kass, of the Chicago Tribune, seems to get what is really troubling about this pick.

Loyal readers know why I put the (D-Tomczak) at the end of Emanuel's name. It refers to the corrupt Daley administration Water Department boss, Donald Tomczak, now in federal prison in Duluth, Minn. He sits there because he was convicted of bribery. Emanuel didn't have anything to do with that. But he was a political beneficiary of Tomczak and the Chicago Way.

Two years ago, at the federal trial of Mayor Daley's patronage chiefs—who were eventually convicted for building an illegal political army of city patronage workers to maintain the mayor's control on Chicago—Tomczak was a key witness.

And he testified that he was ordered to put his political regiments on the streets in 2002 to elect Emanuel and defeat a liberal Democratic grass-roots candidate. The mayor put hundreds of political hacks on the city payroll stumping for Emanuel back then. Tomczak controlled them. They were afraid not to work the precincts. It was the only way for them to get promotions.

Emanuel was elected. So if there wasn't a Tomczak, putting the army out for Emanuel, then Emanuel wouldn't have been in Congress. Emanuel really can't stand it when I mention Tomczak, and he has told me so, personally.

He's entitled.

What's really troubling about this pick is that the politician borne and bread in the corrupt Chicago political machine made his first pick another product of the exact same corrupt machine. This one owes much of his political power to the very corruption that has made Chicago legendary. If Barack Obama's cabinet is full of those with ties to the corrupt Chicago political machine, then we are in for four years of corrupt, hard ball politics where cronyism, patronage, and political favors are the law of the land.

Besides the Emanuel pick, Barack Obama is already pushing for another Chicago insider to replace him in the Senate.

A prominent Democratic source close to Barack Obama confirmed Sunday that Valerie Jarrett is Obama’s choice to replace him in the Senate.

Jarrett is a Chicago lawyer and one of Obama’s closest advisers. She is also one of the leaders of Obama’s transition team.

Rep. Rahm Emanuel, the incoming chief of staff, said Sunday that he had not seen the report from Chicago’s WLS-TV that named Jarrett as Obama’s top pick, but he praised her as a “valuable ally.”

Besides these two, there are also rumors of two more Chicago political machine veterans that will possibly be in Barack Obama's cabinet. The first is Bill Daley. That would be the brother of the more famous Daley, Richard M., the mayor of Chicago. Bill Daley is a veteran of the Clinton administration. (he was Secretary of Commerce) He also figures prominently in Fannie Mae. (he was on the board). Fannie Mae is where Rahm Emanuel wound up being a member of the board from 2000-2002 as well. Of course, as Mr. Kass pointed out, it was Bill Daley that introduced Rahm Emanuel to Bill Clinton. Bill Daley and Rahm Emanuel would add a healthy dose of the Chicago Political machine to the Obama administration.

The most troubling name being floated in Barack Obama's cabinet is Emil Jones. Jones is the soon to be retired President of the Senate. He is also known in these parts as the political godfather of one Barack Obama. If I was running McCain's campaign, I would have focused a lot more on Obama's relationship with Jones than folks like William Ayers. Jones biggest claim to fame is presiding over one of the most corrupt bodies in the country, the Illinois Senate. For the last few months, he and his only ally, Rod Blagojevich, did everything they could to stall ethics reform. Following the conviction of Tony Rezko, another "colleague" of Barack Obama, the Illinois Senate moved to outlaw so called pay to play. In fact, it took a phone call from Obama himself before Jones finally stopped the madness and ended his stalling of the bill. If Jones winds up anywhere near the White House, then as they say all Hell will break loose.

Here in the Chicago area, the question of the day is whether or not President Obama will keep on Patrick Fitzgerald, the current U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois. Fitzgerald is the prosecutor that convicted among others, Tony Rezko (former friend, neighbor and top fundraiser for Barack Obama). Fitzgerald is the first law enforcement official to tackle the corruption in the Chicago area, and that makes him a threat to the entire Chicago political machine. The Chicago political machine has been looking for a way to remove him since he arrived on the scene some seven years ago. The way of the political machine would be to fire all of the federal prosecutors a la Bill Clinton. This way it won't raise eyebrows when Fitzgerald is removed. Make no mistake, if Fitzgerald is removed, it will be at the behest of the Chicago political machine. Fitzgerald is the best thing that has happened to Chicago politics in my lifetime. He is the first person with the courage, integrity, and tenacity to fearlessly and tirelessly take the Chicago corruption head on. Rezko is talking, and indictments are coming and coming quickly. If Fitzgerald is removed, for any reason, then we know that the Obama Presidency will be run the Chicago way.

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