One of the things that was truly amazing during the 2008 campaign is that the mainstream media were hyper-eager to gather in droves over Sarah Palin’s and then Joe the Plumber’s trash cans for any dirt they could find, but utterly refused to examine Barack Obama’s record in the most politically corrupt city in America.
This is why Obama was able to say, “I serve as a blank screen on which people of vastly different political stripes project their own views.” He could be whatever he wanted to depict himself, because the mainstream media wasn’t going to challenge anything he said.
Americans are finally beginning to understand who Mr. “blank screen” really is – and they are rejecting him in droves. The pity is that they should have had an opportunity to learn who he was before they elected him. But the dishonest ideologically-biased mainstream propagandists were not about to tell us anything they thought we might not want to hear.
The mainstream media have long held a “gatekeeper” mentality to the news, which is to say that they only told you what they wanted you to know, while holding back what they didn’t want you to know.
And they didn’t want you to know how Obama’s Chicago past would influence or even dictate his presidency: what happens in Chicago stays in Chicago.
But, inevitably, the American people were going to see the “Chicago side” of Barry Hussein.
From the Los Angeles Times blog:
President Obama Day 386: What’s happened to him?
February 9, 2010A favorite story about Chicago politics involves Roman Pucinski, who served six long terms of political apprenticeship in the Washington minor leagues of the U.S. House of Representatives before the Windy City’s vaunted Democratic political machine allowed him to step up and serve on the City Council.
The late Pucinski then served for 18 years as a loyal operative assigned to the 41st Ward (of 50).
It’s always useful for Chicago pols to have White House connections if, say, they’d like to dispatch someone famous to fly off to Copenhagen to lobby the International Olympic Committee for their city’s 2016 summer games bid.
But the Chicago Daley machine, which is actually a ruthless coalition of urban Democratic factions united by the steel reinforcing rods of self-interest, didn’t much care about this Barack Obama fellow before, as long as he was quiet, obedient and headed on a track out of town. How he acquired a reform label coming out of that one-party place is anyone’s guess.
But now that the sun has risen on the 386th day of the Obama White House, many political observers are coming to see that the ex-state senator from the South Side is running his federal administration in Washington much the way they run things back home: with a small….
…claque of clout-laden people from the same school who learned their political trade back in the nation’s No. 3 city, named for an Indian word for a smelly wild onion.
That style is tough, focused, immune to any distractions but cosmetic niceties. And did we mention tough. A portly, veteran Chicago alderman once confided only about 40% jokingly, that he had taken up jogging to lose weight but quickly gave it up as boring because “you can’t knock anyone down.” That’s politics the Chicago way.
For instance, remember how much we heard all last year about the need for healthcare legislation before early August, before October, before Thanksgiving, before Christmas, before the State of the Union? And how spanked the White House was by the Massachusetts Senate upset that Obama said his laser-vision for 2010 was on jobs and the economy?
So, what did he announce during a Super Bowl interview? More healthcare meetings, designed to politically box Republicans into the No-Nothing corner.
In the last few days at least three major outlets have published well-informed evaluations of Obama’s first year in office. All are well worth reading. The dominant themes: disappointment and disillusionment with the Chicago way.
In one respect it’s not surprising that a capitol city with its own style of take-no-prisoners politics should find a professed outsider’s style of smoother-spoken take-no-prisoners discomforting.
But now, no less than the Huffington Post headlined its Obama evaluation by Steve Clemons: “Core Chicago Team Sinking Obama presidency.”
The devastating Financial Times report by Edward Luce: “A fearsome foursome.”
And the Washington Post story by Ann Gerhart: “A year later, where did the hopes for Obama go?“
The Post story focuses on a handful of Obama supporters, so fiercely motivated and hopeful in 2008 and through the inauguration, now largely drifting back to normal lives lacking fulfillment of so many promises.
The other two fascinating accounts examine Obama’s close-knit team of Chicagoans: confidante Valerie Jarrett, who’s so intelligent she once hired Michelle Obama; Rahm Emanuel, the diminutive, acid-tongued chief of staff with overwhelmAxelrod and Obamaing energy and ambition; David Axelrod, the ex-Chicago Tribune politics reporter-turned-consultant who’s been coaching Obama forever; and Robert Gibbs, who isn’t from Chicago but that’s OK because he’s only the mouthpiece and the others keep a close eye on him.
Clemons focuses on how dead-on the Luce piece is and how the FT Washington bureau chief had to assiduously hide his sources as everyone was properly so fearful of retribution from the quartet around the mayor, er, president.
And Clemons attributes the lack of online link love to the Luce item Monday to the same fears among D.C. journalists dodging disfavor from the same four.
Quoting “administration insiders,” Luce says “the famously irascible Mr Emanuel treats cabinet principals like minions. ‘I am not sure the president realises how much he is humiliating some of the big figures he spent so much trouble recruiting into his cabinet,’ says the head of a presidential advisory board who visits the Oval Office frequently.”
And both articles note, accurately, how savvy cabinet secretaries like Kathleen Sebelius at Health and Human Services and Ken Salazar at Interior have been marginalized because putting a media face on the Obama Oval Office can only be entrusted to the likes of Gibbs and Axelrod.
Another Luce source talks about the difference between campaigning, which is easier, and governing, which is the ultimate goal but takes a more refined skill-set:
‘There is this sense after you have won such an amazing victory, when you have proved conventional wisdom wrong again and again, that you can simply do the same thing in government,’ says one. ‘Of course, they are different skills. To be successful, presidents need to separate the stream of advice they get on policy from the stream of advice they get on politics. That still isn’t happening.’
Also noted, how most everything coming out of the executive office is filtered through a political prism above all. i.e. the Afghanistan troop surge speech that touched all the political bases in 4,582 words without once saying “victory.”
Warning that Obama needs to take action quickly, Clemons adds that needed advice from a broader range of advisers “is getting twisted either in the rough-and-tumble of a a team of rivals operation that is not working, or is being distorted by the Chicago political gang’s tactical advice that is seducing Obama towards a course that has not only violated deals he made with those who voted him into office but which is failing to hit any of the major strategic targets by which the administration will be historically measured.”
David Gergen, who helped guide Bill Clinton out of not dissimilar troubled waters, tells Luce: “There is an old joke. How many psychiatrists does it take to change a lightbulb? Only one. But the lightbulb must want to change. I don’t think President Obama wants to make any changes.”
– Andrew Malcolm
Mark Steyn reminded viewers of Obama’s horribly botched pronunciation of the Navy Corpsmen who save the lives of wounded Marines, and then referred to “the four corpse men of the Obamaclypse.” That’s quite accurate, as it turns out. and these four corpse men are riding America into apocalypse right along with Barack Obama’s and the Democrat Party’s political future.
It’s scary to think that we have a preening peacock campaigning and campaigning with absolutely no idea how to actually govern.
Since the FT article is hard to obtain, and since I am all about preserving a record of the facts, here is the Luce article:
A Fearsome Foursome
By Edward Luce
At a crucial stage in the Democratic primaries in late 2007, Barack Obama rejuvenated his campaign with a barnstorming speech, in which he ended on a promise of what his victory would produce: “A nation healed. A world repaired. An America that believes again.”
Just over a year into his tenure, America’s 44th president governs a bitterly divided nation, a world increasingly hard to manage and an America that seems more disillusioned than ever with Washington’s ways. What went wrong?
Pundits, Democratic lawmakers and opinion pollsters offer a smorgasbord of reasons – from Mr Obama’s decision to devote his first year in office to healthcare reform, to the president’s inability to convince voters he can “feel their [economic] pain”, to the apparent ungovernability of today’s Washington. All may indeed have contributed to the quandary in which Mr Obama finds himself. But those around him have a more specific diagnosis – and one that is striking in its uniformity. The Obama White House is geared for campaigning rather than governing, they say.
In dozens of interviews with his closest allies and friends in Washington – most of them given unattributably in order to protect their access to the Oval Office – each observes that the president draws on the advice of a very tight circle. The inner core consists of just four people – Rahm Emanuel, the pugnacious chief of staff; David Axelrod and Valerie Jarrett, his senior advisers; and Robert Gibbs, his communications chief.
Two, Mr Emanuel and Mr Axelrod, have box-like offices within spitting distance of the Oval Office. The president, who is the first to keep a BlackBerry, rarely holds a meeting, including on national security, without some or all of them present.
With the exception of Mr Emanuel, who was a senior Democrat in the House of Representatives, all were an integral part of Mr Obama’s brilliantly managed campaign. Apart from Mr Gibbs, who is from Alabama, all are Chicagoans – like the president. And barring Richard Nixon’s White House, few can think of an administration that has been so dominated by such a small inner circle.
“It is a very tightly knit group,” says a prominent Obama backer who has visited the White House more than 40 times in the past year. “This is a kind of ‘we few’ group … that achieved the improbable in the most unlikely election victory anyone can remember and, unsurprisingly, their bond is very deep.”
John Podesta, a former chief of staff to Bill Clinton and founder of the Center for American Progress, the most influential think-tank in Mr Obama’s Washington, says that while he believes Mr Obama does hear a range of views, including dissenting advice, problems can arise from the narrow composition of the group itself.
Among the broader circle that Mr Obama also consults are the self-effacing Peter Rouse, who was chief of staff to Tom Daschle in his time as Senate majority leader; Jim Messina, deputy chief of staff; the economics team led by Lawrence Summers and including Peter Orszag, budget director; Joe Biden, the vice-president; and Denis McDonough, deputy national security adviser. But none is part of the inner circle.
“Clearly this kind of core management approach worked for the election campaign and President Obama has extended it to the White House,” says Mr Podesta, who managed Mr Obama’s widely praised post-election transition. “It is a very tight inner circle and that has its advantages. But I would like to see the president make more use of other people in his administration, particularly his cabinet.”
This White House-centric structure has generated one overriding – and unexpected – failure. Contrary to conventional wisdom, Mr Emanuel managed the legislative aspect of the healthcare bill quite skilfully, say observers. The weak link was the failure to carry public opinion – not Capitol Hill. But for the setback in Massachusetts, which deprived the Democrats of their 60-seat supermajority in the Senate, Mr Obama would by now almost certainly have signed healthcare into law – and with it would have become a historic president.
But the normally liberal voters of Massachusetts wished otherwise. The Democrats lost the seat to a candidate, Scott Brown, who promised voters he would be the “41st [Republican] vote” in the Senate – the one that would tip the balance against healthcare. Subsequent polling bears out the view that a decisive number of Democrats switched their votes with precisely that motivation in mind.
“Historians will puzzle over the fact that Barack Obama, the best communicator of his generation, totally lost control of the narrative in his first year in office and allowed people to view something they had voted for as something they suddenly didn’t want,” says Jim Morone, America’s leading political scientist on healthcare reform. “Communication was the one thing everyone thought Obama would be able to master.”
Whatever issue arises, whether it is a failed terrorist plot in Detroit, the healthcare bill, economic doldrums or the 30,000-troop surge to Afghanistan, the White House instinctively fields Mr Axelrod or Mr Gibbs on television to explain the administration’s position. “Every event is treated like a twist in an election campaign and no one except the inner circle can be trusted to defend the president,” says an exasperated outside adviser.
Perhaps the biggest losers are the cabinet members. Kathleen Sebelius, Mr Obama’s health secretary and formerly governor of Kansas, almost never appears on television and has been largely excluded both from devising and selling the healthcare bill. Others such as Ken Salazar, the interior secretary who is a former senator for Colorado, and Janet Napolitano, head of the Department for Homeland Security and former governor of Arizona, have virtually disappeared from view.
Administration insiders say the famously irascible Mr Emanuel treats cabinet principals like minions. “I am not sure the president realises how much he is humiliating some of the big figures he spent so much trouble recruiting into his cabinet,” says the head of a presidential advisory board who visits the Oval Office frequently. “If you want people to trust you, you must first place trust in them.”
In addition to hurling frequent profanities at people within the administration, Mr Emanuel has alienated many of Mr Obama’s closest outside supporters. At a meeting of Democratic groups last August, Mr Emanuel described liberals as “f***ing retards” after one suggested they mobilise resources on healthcare reform.
“We are treated as though we are children,” says the head of a large organisation that raised millions of dollars for Mr Obama’s campaign. “Our advice is never sought. We are only told: ‘This is the message, please get it out.’ I am not sure whether the president fully realises that when the chief of staff speaks, people assume he is speaking for the president.”
The same can be observed in foreign policy. On Mr Obama’s November trip to China, members of the cabinet such as the Nobel prizewinning Stephen Chu, energy secretary, were left cooling their heels while Mr Gibbs, Mr Axelrod and Ms Jarrett were constantly at the president’s side.
The White House complained bitterly about what it saw as unfairly negative media coverage of a trip dubbed Mr Obama’s “G2” visit to China. But, as journalists were keenly aware, none of Mr Obama’s inner circle had any background in China. “We were about 40 vans down in the motorcade and got barely any time with the president,” says a senior official with extensive knowledge of the region. “It was like the Obama campaign was visiting China.”
Then there are the president’s big strategic decisions. Of these, devoting the first year to healthcare is well known and remains a source of heated contention. Less understood is the collateral damage it caused to unrelated initiatives. “The whole Rahm Emanuel approach is that victory begets victory – the success of healthcare would create the momentum for cap-and-trade [on carbon emissions] and then financial sector reform,” says one close ally of Mr Obama. “But what happens if the first in the sequence is defeat?”
Insiders attribute Mr Obama’s waning enthusiasm for the Arab-Israeli peace initiative to a desire to avoid antagonising sceptical lawmakers whose support was needed on healthcare. The steam went out of his Arab-Israeli push in mid-summer, just when the healthcare bill was running into serious difficulties.
The same applies to reforming the legal apparatus in the “war on terror” – not least his pledge to close the Guantánamo Bay detention centre within a year of taking office. That promise has been abandoned.
“Rahm said: ‘We’ve got these two Boeing 747s circling that we are trying to bring down to the tarmac [healthcare and the decision on the Afghanistan troop surge] and we can’t risk a flock of f***ing Canadian geese causing them to crash,’ ” says an official who attended an Oval Office strategy meeting. The geese stood for the closure of Guantánamo.
An outside adviser adds: “I don’t understand how the president could launch healthcare reform and an Arab-Israeli peace process – two goals that have eluded US presidents for generations – without having done better scenario planning. Either would be historic. But to launch them at the same time?”
Again, close allies of the president attribute the problem to the campaign-like nucleus around Mr Obama in which all things are possible. “There is this sense after you have won such an amazing victory, when you have proved conventional wisdom wrong again and again, that you can simply do the same thing in government,” says one. “Of course, they are different skills. To be successful, presidents need to separate the stream of advice they get on policy from the stream of advice they get on politics. That still isn’t happening.”
The White House declined to answer questions on whether Mr Obama needed to broaden his circle of advisers. But some supporters say he should find a new chief of staff. Mr Emanuel has hinted that he might not stay in the job very long and is thought to have an eye on running for mayor of Chicago. Others say Mr Obama should bring in fresh blood. They point to Mr Clinton’s decision to recruit David Gergen, a veteran of previous White Houses, when the last Democratic president ran into trouble in 1993. That is credited with helping to steady the Clinton ship, after he too began with an inner circle largely carried over from his campaign.
But Mr Gergen himself disagrees. Now teaching at Harvard and commenting for CNN, Mr Gergen says members of the inner circle meet two key tests. First, they are all talented. Second, Mr Obama trusts them. “These are important attributes,” Mr Gergen says. His biggest doubt is whether Mr Obama sees any problem with the existing set-up.
So you learn that Obama is all fluff and no substance (i.e., all campaign mode and no actual governing mode), and that Obama has to rely on his “Chicago fearsome foursome” the way he relies on his teleprompter: ubiquitously (as in even in sixth grade classrooms!!!).
And you should think long and hard about the profound comparison of Nixon’s tight (and tightly wound) inner circle and Obama’s same same. A tight, insular circle that answers to no one and keeps its counsel secret is a frightening thing in any republic.
Here’s another comparison between Obama and his alter ego. And realize that for a CHICAGO POLITICIAN to say, “I am not a crook,” is pretty much like a Chicago politician saying, “I am not a Chicago politician.”
Everything is politics for Obama. Political posturing, political preening, political hatchet jobs. Nothing else matters.
It is frankly amazing to me that such a hypocritical and cynical man as Barack Obama was ever elected president. He constantly lectures Republicans (and even Democrats when it suits him) to “rise above petty politics” when the very construction of his administration is completely about politics.
I have on several occasions compared Barack Obama to Neville Chamberlain. Both men were utterly ruthless (there’s your ‘Chicago Way’) in pounding head after head to achieve their signature domestic issues, and both men became utter failures as they attempted to have their personal domestic agenda at the expense of everything else.
People are starting to learn that the “blank slate” may well be blank because the man behind the grand facade has no soul.