Thursday, January 28, 2010

Does Obama care about Chicago?

It amuses me to listen to Republican partisans, usually from rural communities across the nation, when they start lambasting President Barack Obama by accusing him of bringing Chicago-style politics to the federal government.

I say “amuse” because the very notion is ridiculous. After all, if Obama were truly using the ways of City Hall, there would be so many things strong-armed through the political process, instead of the current situation where a minority of the Senate is capable of bringing things to a crashing halt.

IF ANYTHING, OBAMA is an official who has tried reaching out to his opposition and tried to ensure that things get spread around fairly – only to learn that his opposition has little interest in cooperating and has no interest in an equal share.

They want more, just like every government official who is elected ultimately has the bottom line of trying to get as much for his constituents as he possibly can.

These thoughts ran through my head when reading a pair of pieces of reporting published in the Chicago newspapers.

There is the concept of high-speed rail – those trains that would run much more efficiently than the current Amtrak inter-city passenger rail trains. Chicago, being a natural transportation hub, would be a significant part of any high-speed development.

YET ILLINOIS OFFICIALS who were thinking that our state (because of Chicago) would get somewhere between one-quarter and one-third of the $8 billion in initial funding for high-speed rail have come to be disappointed.

The Chicago Tribune reported that Illinois will not come close to getting the $2 billion that was seen as a bare minimum.

Part of the reason is that federal officials are wondering if they can spread money around the country so as to encourage more passenger train usage in places that are not obvious now. They’re not just going to think of places such as New York to Washington, Chicago to St. Louis and Los Angeles to Seattle.

But also, the Obama administration does not want to be tagged with the reputation of someone who is playing favorites with his home state. In short, the fact that Obama officially lives here is being held against us.

SO MUCH FOR the thoughts of those that the Obama Administration would be an era of great fortune provided by the federal government to the Greatest City on the Face of Planet Earth – Chicago.

We might as well be Toledo, Ohio, for all that we’ve gained from having our one-time Senator and state legislator from the Hyde Park neighborhood living and working in the White House.

That sense of fairness in wanting to spread the money around truly is unique. If anything, it is what always made Obama stand out whenever he was in a pack of Chicago politicos.

For if Harvard Law grad Obama truly did fit in with the political crowd that takes pride in having graduated from Chicago-Kent College of Law, the last thing he’d be worried about was that public image.

NO SELF-RESPECTING CHICAGO politician would think it bad to be looking out for the old hometown when it comes to shelling out the government goodies. To many, that is the whole point of public service.

They’d argue that the people who complain about Chicago getting its share are either naïve or just jealous that their hometowns couldn’t get more money for their pet projects.

High-speed rail is going to be a moment I will remember whenever I hear the ridiculous Republican rhetoric about Obama being a Chicago political hack. He’s closer to being a goo-goo, with just a touch of that bipartisan idealism that makes him stand out, but also makes him vulnerable to those who are willing to play hardball politics against him.

In short, I think that many of the people who accuse Obama of being a political hack are nothing more than political hacks themselves, and jealous that they can’t say they live on the shores of Lake Michigan between Whiting, Ind., and Evanston, Ill.

THERE ALSO IS a report published earlier this week by the Chicago Sun-Times, telling us of how political adviser David Axelrod was back in Chicago and was thankful not to have to be stuck in the midst of the political brawl that currently is the state’s Democratic Party primaries for senator and governor.

Some people have criticized Obama for not getting active during the primary season to help pick a winner. After all, if he were a “true” Chicago politico, he would consider that to be one of his chief responsiblities.

Instead, he has focused his attention on Washington, where Wednesday night we got to hear “vision” for coping with the fact that his political opposition can now thwart him whenever they see fit (although they don’t yet have the ability to pass hostile legislation on their own).

If anything is true, the political “problems” confronted these days by the Obama administration are the primary evidence that he’s not truly a Chicago political hack – I doubt Obama has anything so brash in him that he would dream up the federal equivalent of tearing down Meigs Field in the middle of the night.


EDITOR’S NOTES: Chicago is going to have to share with the rest of the United States when it comes to ( federal funding for high-speed rail.

Barack Obama plans to get involved in the elections in Illinois once the Democratic Party’s voters decide for themselves (,axelrod-obama-senate-campaign-012510.article) who should run – which is a very un-City Hall-like thought to have.

Yet another rant by someone who doesn't have a clue about what Chicago politics truly involves (

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