The man who made Obama by R. Smith

Clarice Feldman and Rosslyn Smith
Reporter Todd Spivak relates how Barack Obama screamed at him over the phone in 2004, in an article in the Houston Press. He had been assigned to write about Obama for the Springfield based Illinois Times.  When upon second thought Spivak found his article to be too much of a fluff piece, he called several black Democrats in the Illinois legislature and asked their opinion. 

The resulting article had Obama ranting that his legislative colleagues couldn't have done anything without him. And why did so many Democrat legislators in 2004 express a hearty dislike for Obama?  It seems that in 2003, Emil Jones,  the new majority leader of the Illinois State Senate,  made Barack Obama the sponsor of virtually every high profile piece of legislation on his agenda.  

Because the Republicans had been in control of state government for over 20 years there was a huge backlog of items.  Jones also gave Obama the bills straight out of local headlines, such as a ban on pyrotechnics in nightclubs after 21 people died during a stampede at a Chicago nightclub that caught fire.  After having been all but invisible in prior sessions, Obama became the sponsor of 26 bills enacted into law in 2003, thanks to Emil Jones.  In doing so, Jones shafted a great many veteran Democrat legislators who had sponsored similar bills in the past, only to watch them die in committee session after session  

Why did Jones make Obama the star of the 2003 legislative session?  As he told local black radio talk show host and former alderman Cliff Kelly at the time. 

'Cliff, I'm gonna make me a U.S. Senator.'"

"Oh, you are? Who might that be?"

"Barack Obama."

In true Chicago fashion, Obama has repaid Jones for the favor with taxpayer money. 

When Obama released his list of earmark requests for fiscal year 2008, it comprised more than $300 million in pet projects for Illinois, including tens of millions for Jones's Senate district.  Spivak then recalls this conversation about such political back scratching. 

Shortly after Jones became Senate president, I remember asking his view on pork-barrel spending.

I'll never forget what he said:

"Some call it pork; I call it steak."

It seems that Obama can join Gibson's and Morton's as a source of fat, juicy, oversized steaks for Chicago politicians.  It should be noted that Obama took the seat once held by another state senator from the south side who appealed, at least initially, to white suburban voters, Carol Moseley Braun. In true Chicago fashion,  I suspect Jones had been looking for a new purveyor of Washington raised steaks ever since Moseley Braun lost her re-election bid in 1998.   

Spivak also details Obama's endorsement of Dorothy Tillman last year in a runoff election for alderman.  Tillman, whose legendary flamboyance goes well beyond her incredibly colorful wardrobe, once brandished a pistol at a city council meeting.  Her ward is among the most economically depressed in Chicago. Spivak notes that just before Obama's endorsement of Tillman, a small community newspaper,  Lakefront Outlook,  ran an investigative series about her flagrant crony­ism and possible tax-law violations. The series won a George Polk award for local journalism. 

Many speculate Obama only bothered to weigh in on a paltry city council election during his presidential campaign as a gesture to Chicago's powerful Mayor Richard M. Daley, a Tillman supporter. Even so, Obama should have remained neutral, says Timuel Black, a historian and City Colleges of Chicago professor emeritus who lived in Obama's state Senate district.

"That was not a wise decision," Black says. "It was poor judgment on his part. He was operating like a politician trying to win the next step up."

Spivak has known Obama since 2000 when he was a rank-and-file state senator who had recently failed to win a Congressional primary and Spivak was a cub reporter for a string of local newspapers. His conclusion is worth noting.

Obama has spent his entire political career trying to win the next step up. Every three years, he has aspired to a more powerful political position.

And the record Spivak details shows that unless a political godfather like Emil Jones on hand to hand him accomplishments on a silver platter, Obama has done little with those powerful positions other than curry favorable general impressions. 

Hat tip: Hugh Hewitt
Reporter Todd Spivak relates how Barack Obama screamed at him over the phone in 2004, in an article in the Houston Press. He had been assigned to write about Obama for the Springfield based Illinois Times.  When upon second thought Spivak found his article to be too much of a fluff piece, he called several black Democrats in the Illinois legislature and asked their opinion. 

The resulting article had Obama ranting that his legislative colleagues couldn't have done anything without him. And why did so many Democrat legislators in 2004 express a hearty dislike for Obama?  It seems that in 2003, Emil Jones,  the new majority leader of the Illinois State Senate,  made Barack Obama the sponsor of virtually every high profile piece of legislation on his agenda.  

Because the Republicans had been in control of state government for over 20 years there was a huge backlog of items.  Jones also gave Obama the bills straight out of local headlines, such as a ban on pyrotechnics in nightclubs after 21 people died during a stampede at a Chicago nightclub that caught fire.  After having been all but invisible in prior sessions, Obama became the sponsor of 26 bills enacted into law in 2003, thanks to Emil Jones.  In doing so, Jones shafted a great many veteran Democrat legislators who had sponsored similar bills in the past, only to watch them die in committee session after session  

Why did Jones make Obama the star of the 2003 legislative session?  As he told local black radio talk show host and former alderman Cliff Kelly at the time. 

'Cliff, I'm gonna make me a U.S. Senator.'"

"Oh, you are? Who might that be?"

"Barack Obama."

In true Chicago fashion, Obama has repaid Jones for the favor with taxpayer money. 

When Obama released his list of earmark requests for fiscal year 2008, it comprised more than $300 million in pet projects for Illinois, including tens of millions for Jones's Senate district.  Spivak then recalls this conversation about such political back scratching. 

Shortly after Jones became Senate president, I remember asking his view on pork-barrel spending.

I'll never forget what he said:

"Some call it pork; I call it steak."

It seems that Obama can join Gibson's and Morton's as a source of fat, juicy, oversized steaks for Chicago politicians.  It should be noted that Obama took the seat once held by another state senator from the south side who appealed, at least initially, to white suburban voters, Carol Moseley Braun. In true Chicago fashion,  I suspect Jones had been looking for a new purveyor of Washington raised steaks ever since Moseley Braun lost her re-election bid in 1998.   

Spivak also details Obama's endorsement of Dorothy Tillman last year in a runoff election for alderman.  Tillman, whose legendary flamboyance goes well beyond her incredibly colorful wardrobe, once brandished a pistol at a city council meeting.  Her ward is among the most economically depressed in Chicago. Spivak notes that just before Obama's endorsement of Tillman, a small community newspaper,  Lakefront Outlook,  ran an investigative series about her flagrant crony­ism and possible tax-law violations. The series won a George Polk award for local journalism. 

Many speculate Obama only bothered to weigh in on a paltry city council election during his presidential campaign as a gesture to Chicago's powerful Mayor Richard M. Daley, a Tillman supporter. Even so, Obama should have remained neutral, says Timuel Black, a historian and City Colleges of Chicago professor emeritus who lived in Obama's state Senate district.

"That was not a wise decision," Black says. "It was poor judgment on his part. He was operating like a politician trying to win the next step up."

Spivak has known Obama since 2000 when he was a rank-and-file state senator who had recently failed to win a Congressional primary and Spivak was a cub reporter for a string of local newspapers. His conclusion is worth noting.

Obama has spent his entire political career trying to win the next step up. Every three years, he has aspired to a more powerful political position.

And the record Spivak details shows that unless a political godfather like Emil Jones on hand to hand him accomplishments on a silver platter, Obama has done little with those powerful positions other than curry favorable general impressions. 

Hat tip: Hugh Hewitt