Saturday, October 9, 2010

Why is Barack Obama so politically active in this year’s Chicago election cycle?

President Barack Obama made yet another appearance in Chicago earlier this week to help tout the campaign of Democratic Senate hopeful Alexi Giannoulias, which amuses me because of all the pompous rhetoric we got earlier this year from conservative political pundits who wanted to believe that Obama wouldn’t come anywhere near Illinois during this election cycle.

The spin those political gas-bags put on Obama was that he was toxic, and that Giannoulias wouldn’t want to have anything to do with his one-time basketball buddy trying to campaign on his behalf.

YET WHILE SOME Democrats of more conservative ideological bearings have gone out of their way to maintain distance between themselves and the sitting president, Giannoulias has not.

The president appeared at the Drake Hotel for a private dinner that allegedly raised nearly $800,000, of which half went to the Giannoulias campaign and the other half went to the national committee that is working to elect Democrats across the country to the Senate – primarily by coming up with incredibly nasty campaign ads against their GOP opponents.

It would seem that the conservative ideologues were wrong about how much Giannoulias would want help from Obama, and how much Obama would be willing to help his buddy who wants to move up from Illinois treasurer to the U.S. Senate.

So now, we’re getting a new line of rhetoric from the ideologues – why is Obama coming to Illinois so much, unless he realizes that his buddy is a loser in need of anything to give him a jolt.

ILLINOIS GOP CHAIRMAN Pat Brady (no relation to gubernatorial nominee William) went so far as to say Obama’s repeated presence was evidence that he fears a Republican “landslide” in elections across the nation.

Yet I’m just trying to imagine the kind of rhetoric we’d be hearing from Brady if Obama wasn’t showing his face in his home city – it would probably be something along the lines of “Obama is in hiding because he’s afraid of the Republican ‘juggernaut’” that they think they have amassed.

In short, it is merely evidence that some people are determined to put a nasty spin on Obama, and aren’t particularly interested in what kinds of facts they use to back up their political venom.

If anything, I am inclined to think that Democratic political operative David Plouffe is correct when he says that Obama wouldn’t be spending any time in Chicago, let alone Illinois, unless they thought that it could influence enough people to remember who they loved two years ago, and to turn out enough Democratic votes to win.

THAT WOULD SEEM to coincide with the polls that show the various campaigns tightening up in support – although when one considers how much the Chicago metro area dominates the state, it is truthful to say that anything other than a Democratic blowout should be embarrassing for the party.

The fact that Republicans are running competitive in a state that is rigged against them says something. Although it doesn’t necessary say what the GOP operatives want to think it says.

So when Obama told the big-money crowds that, “most of the polls say the same thing, Alexi will win, Pat Quinn will win, the entire ticket will win,” I will be the first to admit he is exaggerating.

Anybody with sense knows that a few Republican candidates will get their act together and take back some influence within Illinois state government. The real significance is will the Republican gains be sufficient that their partisan officials can demand some control over public policy.

I’M NOT ABOUT to try predicting who will win the Nov. 2 general elections in Illinois. Like I have written on other occasions, it will depend on the Chicago and surrounding suburbs voter turnout.

This election cycle truly is in Chicago’s hands. A strong turnout here negates any of the ridiculous rhetoric we have been hearing for the past several months. A weak turnout means that people here didn’t care enough, and perhaps should not be complaining about anything that gets done to them during the next two to four years.

Which is why it was significant to learn that the Chicago Board of Elections reported this week there are 60,000 fewer registered voters within the city, compared to increases in the collar county suburbs where people are most likely to identify with the Republican Party as the entity that will stand up to Chicago Democrats on their behalf (I’d argue that they are the people most likely to hold Illinois back, but that is a debate for a different day).

It is more evidence that the people who are taking this election cycle most seriously are the ones who want their own perception of society to prevail – those who are inclined to think that Obama and his election two years ago was a step in the wrong direction. Which means that Obama sticking his two cents in to tell us otherwise is probably the least he should be doing in this election cycle.


No comments: