Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Booting Obama from the ballot?

It’s more about trying to make a political statement against Barack Obama than engaging in any concrete action. But there are those people who are trying to get the incumbent president removed from the ballot that Illinois voters will see in the March 20 primary election.
OBAMA: Booted from ballot?

The people supporting Rick Santorum’s presidential fantasies (which got a jolt from those misguided folks in Iowa) are engaging in their own efforts to kick all the other Republican presidential candidates off the Illinois ballot to try to clear a path for him.

BUT THE ACTIVIST types who are singling out Obama, while they may think they’re engaging in some serious effort, are really just into making a silly statement that shows just how out-of-touch they are with the political mainstream.

For the record, Obama is unopposed for the Democratic nomination for president on the Illinois ballot. So if, by some miracle, Obama’s name were to be removed, people picking a Democratic ballot would have no one to vote for when it comes to U.S. president.

But to the best of my knowledge, no one is trying to boot the slates of delegates to the Democratic National Convention who also will appear on the ballot. Which means Illinois would still send people to the convention to make official Obama’s bid for a second term as president.

I actually got a statement in my e-mail from one of the groups that filed a challenge to Obama. I’m not quoting any of it, or even identifying the group (I deleted it from my own e-mail box fairly quickly), because the tone of it was so irrational.

IT ACTUALLY DELVED into the electoral history of Obama and how he managed to win his first election to an Illinois state Senate seat unopposed. By booting then-state Sen. Alice Palmer off the ballot, they say Obama brought bad karma on himself – which now will be repaid by booting him off the ballot in his own home state.

PALMER: Famous for failure?
I can’t tell if this is a group of conservative ideologues engaging in their usual anti-Obama rhetoric, or black activists who still hold a grudge on behalf of Palmer (who herself was a Hillary Clinton backer for president in 2008 and also supported Danny Davis for mayor last year over Obama ally Rahm Emanuel).

It actually astounds me how many people do not really comprehend what happened to Palmer back in 1996. She thought about running for Congress, but soon came to the realization that she would suffer the same fate challenging Rep. Bobby Rush, D-Ill., that Obama himself suffered in 2002.

So she put together a last-minute petition drive to seek re-election to her South Side state legislative post that Obama had already decided he wanted to run for because Palmer allegedly was vacating the post.

BECAUSE SHE HAD to do a rush job to get those petitions ready, they were sloppy. Sloppy enough that Obama was able to challenge her and get her kicked off the ballot. Except that Palmer backers seem to think there is a "gentlemen's agreement" to politics to leave her unchallenged, in that situation.

It resulted in her becoming the woman whose career as a legislator and an educator has become obscured by her political demise. Being booted from the ballot may wind up being the only reason anyone remembers her name – and even then only because of its association to Obama.

But when people start talking about bad karma and “payback,” I have to wonder how much they’re over-exaggerating the situation.

In short, I consider these challenges to the Obama ballot spot to be silly, if not outright vacuous, even though they claim the Obama nominating petitions were done so sloppily that they do not comply with state elections law.

I DON’T KNOW first-hand. I haven’t seen the nominating petitions for myself. And the Illinois State Board of Elections (which ultimately will have to rule on the challenges to Obama and the bulk of the GOP challengers) has yet to schedule hearings to resolve the matter.

Not that I honestly believe the state Elections Board will do much of anything about it. I expect they will find a way to dismiss the Obama challenge – which most likely will result in the same activists releasing another verbose statement about “hypocrisy” and political people sticking up for each other over the interests of everyday people.

Which, of course, is nonsense, because these people have their own ideological agenda to peddle. They are as far removed from everyday people as anyone can get.

So I’m not about to get all worked up and worry about whether Obama will somehow have his presidency undermined at this stage of the game.

BECAUSE THIS IS really going to show why political operatives dismiss this stage of the process as the “beauty contest,” and pay more attention to the delegate selection.

Barack Obama is going to be the Democratic Party’s nominee for U.S. president who will have to face a serious challenge from whichever ideologue the Republicans manage to nominate.

And all that will really be accomplished by these challenges is that the people who are making them will wind up making themselves look foolish in the process.


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