Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Obama ‘farewell’ tour begins Wednesday; there’s nothing more to it

OBAMA: Bringing back memories?
Let’s be honest.

The reason Barack Obama is coming to Springfield, Ill., on Wednesday is to begin the series of stops across the nation that will occur during the next year that are meant to provide a guide as to what the president wants his legacy to be perceived as.

IT KIND OF reminds me of the last couple of months of the Richard M. Daley stint as mayor when Hizzoner, Jr., literally made an appearance in each of the city’s 50 wards so he could boast of some local achievement.

I still remember when he visited my own native 10th Ward – a stop at the site of the old Wisconsin Steel Works where my maternal grandfather once worked plant so he could brag about a new industrial plant that was being developed there.

No real news, but it was a touchy-feely moment meant to inspire mayoral good will.

That’s the same thing we’re going to get on Wednesday at the Statehouse. Barack Obama will reminisce a bit about his days as a state legislator, then (according to his aides) will offer up a speech meant to encourage political bipartisanship – something that definitely is lacking in Springfield these days.

OF COURSE, THERE wasn’t much in the way of bipartisanship back when Obama was a legislator either. The president’s early days in the state Senate were as part of a minority caucus that then-Senate President James “Pate” Philip went out of his way to treat as irrelevant.

Then, Obama became a significant member of the Democratic majority that Emil Jones used his presidency to let Republicans know what political payback felt like.

In short, the idea of a bipartisanship speech from Obama is too much of a stretch to take seriously. In all honesty, his presidency has been even more ideologically tainted than either those of Bill Clinton or George W. Bush.

Although that was largely because Obama came into a situation where the opposition party was determined to work to make his presidency a failure. Bipartisanship in the Obama years never had a chance.

Who'd have thought a century ago that someone like Barack Obama could set foot on these grounds as president?
THE ONLY THING that ever really could be accomplished was that the nation got a taste of what Chicago experienced back in the mid-1980s when a majority of the City Council was determined to thwart then-Mayor Harold Washington’s every governmental desire.

Maybe the Congressional types of the past eight years have been more subtle in expressing their bigoted motivations. But the sentiment was the same.

Of course, there’s one other political motivation for having the president speak in Springfield on Wednesday – it comes right after the primary in New Hampshire. Now as I write this, I don’t know who “won.”

But I’m sure there are people prepared to say that, regardless of what the electoral results turn out to be, it represents a repudiation of the Obama presidency. Without a trip to Springpatch, Obama would have to actually come up with answers to dopey questions.

INSTEAD, OBAMA WILL try to get away with talking the moral high ground of political bipartisanship, claiming he wants to work with everybody and it is their own reluctance to do so that has prevented any lasting change from occurring during the past eight years.

It is with all this in mind that I have to laugh at those people who are getting all worked up over the way in which Obama’s address to the General Assembly, to be given in the Illinois House of Representatives’ chambers, is so overly staged.

The capitol won’t be open to the public. Only certain people will even be allowed in the House chambers during the event. News media are being shifted to a separate room where they will watch the event on a television monitor.

There will be an after-party of sorts where people can see Obama – but only if they were pre-invited. In short, it’s a fake event. Completely staged so as to create the illusion of Obama addressing the great unwashed masses.

REAL PEOPLE WILL have to tune in their televisions to whatever local public TV station is broadcasting the event in their part of Illinois. Kind of like a political version of the recently-completed Super Bowl.

Only there won’t be all kinds of inane commercial spots to attract the attention of the politically-clueless. Although there will be all kinds of speculation about who “wins” from the event – Gov. Bruce Rauner, or da Dems?!?

As far as Obama? Heck, he couldn’t even pick the football Super Bowl correctly (he had Carolina beating Denver). What makes you think he can sway our self-absorbed politicos into supporting bipartisanship?


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