Nobody doubts that Obama was with the reformers in Illinois, both in terms of the legislation he helped pass in the State Senate (including on campaign finance and ethics) and in his philosophical orientation. But Obama was hardly some sort of anti-Establishment firebrand. He is close to the Daleys—Mayor Richard and brother Bill—and Emil Jones, a longtime leader in the State Senate. He assisted Blagojevich in
getting elected in 2002, and though they have been estranged for some years, he
supported Blago for reelection and refused to condemn him (or Mayor Daley) whenthey became ensnared in corruption contretemps, a fact that left some reform-minded supporters “feeling alienated and angry,” according to Lizza. And, of course, there was his alliance and friendship with Rezko.
The idea that Obama was "with the reformers" is so unbelievably untrue and cynical that it makes the hairs on the back of my neck stand up. First, there are no "reformers" in Illinois politics. It isn't like the state of Illinois' political system is made up of those that came through the machine and those that have challenged the machine. The state's political system is made up of those that came through the machine and the anomaly. Everyone once in a while a politician gains power that is truly a reformer however there is no group of them, and Barack Obama was never part of any such group.
In fact, in my estimation, the state has only two true reformers, Republican Tony Peraica and Democrat Forrest Claypool. To see just how cynical the statement from the New Yorker is, you need to go back to recent history. In 2006, both Claypool and Peraica ran for the same office. They ran for Cook County Board President. Claypool ran in the Democratic primary against the ultimate political insider Todd Stroger, who replaced his ailing father late in the primary. Then, when Stroger beat Claypool, he ran against Peraica in the general election. When given a choice of two reformers against one political insider, both times Obama chose the insider. He endorsed Stroger in both the primary and the general election. Since then, Stroger has raised the county's sales tax to the highest level in the country. He has cut the funding on the hospital that bears his father's name, and he has been implicated in providing patronage six figure jobs to multiple of his friends.
Obama's political mentor is Emil Jones, long time Senate President. He is a political ally of Richard M. Daley and he supported Blagojevich in 2002 and in 2006, even though by 2006 Blagojevich was already under investigation. This Boston Globe piece illustrates how $300 million in State funds were wasted when Obama directed the money to political insiders like Tony Rezko.
In his very first campaign, Barack Obama pulled off a back room deal to keep all of his Democratic primary opponents off the ballot.
This is no reformer. He was never a reformer. All of his friends, colleagues, and political allies were part of the very political machine that has made the state the laughingstock of the nation. All Obama defenders point to this so called ethics bill that he passed. Yet, what did this bill do? Since it was passed, Patrick Fitzgerald has brought a laundry list of charges, convictions, and indictments against Illinois politicians for "ethics violations". The process of "pay to play" wasn't outlawed until a couple months ago, and that process was stalled by Obama's political guru, Emil Jones.
The MSM will attempt to re write Illinois political history and turn Obama into a reformer. That is nonsense. This state has two reformers, and Obama backed the ultimate political insider against each of them in the very same election.