Montag, Juni 22, 2009

Further Data Points For The Trend VIII...

This time, two points on Obama, Chicago politics, and the primacy of money in this style of politics...

This underscores something I've been saying for a while: Obama's politics can be best understood by understanding Chicago politics.

...he does business Chicago-style. His first political ambition was to be mayor of Chicago, the boss of all he surveyed; he has had to settle for the broader but less complete hegemony of the presidency. From Chicago he brings the assumption that there will always be a bounteous private sector that can be plundered endlessly on behalf of political favorites. Hence the government takeover of General Motors and Chrysler to bail out the United Auto Workers, the proposal for channeling money from the private nonprofits to the government by limiting the charitable deduction for high earners, the plan for expanding government (and public employee union rolls) by instituting universal pre-kindergarten.

Chicago-style, he has kept the Republicans out of serious policy negotiations but has allowed left-wing Democrats to veto a measure upholding his own decision not to release interrogation photos. While promising a politics of mutual respect, he peppers both his speeches and impromptu responses with jabs at his predecessor. Basking in the adulation of nearly the entire press corps, he whines about his coverage on Fox News. Those who stand in the way, like the Chrysler secured creditors, are told that their reputations will be destroyed; those who expose wrongdoing by political allies, like the AmeriCorps inspector general, are fired.

This ties in directly with the second point: how money will determine the policies of President Obama in ways not seen since the days of Nixon: fundamentally, a corrupt politician was caught, his corruption threatened his political office, and the person fired ... is the person who caught him.

This is where President Obama is most vulnerable, where the most can be made of his governing style, which is, at the end of the day, fundamentally corruptible. This is the quid-pro-quo of Chicago-style politics.

In the political patronage system, if big-time donors think they are being harassed - which may simply mean they have run afoul of the law or of reporting requirements - they are too-often forgiven, depending on the seriousness of the offense and how likely it is to be publicly reported or prosecuted.

The press could help keep things honest, but we all know that the press is working with fewer resources and fewer readers - and Walpin's firing is not a YouTube sort of story.

This is where the writer gets the story wrong: the press could help keep things honest, if the press were even remotely interested in the fact of corruption within the Obama Administration. Of course, they're not: this is a non-story for most, if not all, DC reporters.

So much for the Fifth Estate.

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