This coming Saturday Chicago will hold its annual Bud Billiken Parade. This parade, which bills itself as the biggest and oldest African American parade in the nation, is also one of biggest public celebrations held in Chicago each year. It is the South Side's answer to the St. Patrick's Day parade held in the Loop. The route is not far from the Obama's home.
The parade is carried live on television and every politician pays homage to it. This year the parade's theme is "Education: Built to Last; a Tribute to President Barack Obama." The value of an education is certainly a good cause, and is one for which the Obama family has been a fine example to Chicago's African American community.
At the time the theme was selected, it appeared the organizers had been in communication with the White House and understood President Obama would attend this year's parade. In June, the president's campaign office announced he could not attend but would send a representative. This week that representative was announced. Michael Strautmanis is a deputy assistant to the president and counselor for strategic engagement to Valerie Jarrett. In other words, he is a third banana whose name is likely to mean little or nothing to most parade goers. (That's not racist. The terms second and third bananas originated with the assistant to vaudeville comedians -- the guys who always slipped on the banana peels.)
If not Obama himself for any number of reasons, why not Michelle and the kids? It is the old neighborhood, after all. Or even Jarrett herself. It's not like they aren't going to be in Chicago this weekend, anyway. Obama will be in his old home on Sunday holding another round of megabucks fundraisers built around a belated birthday party theme.
Looking deeper into the invitations to the party, one clearly sees that the party invitation comes with a hefty price tag - a $40,000 donation to Obama.
The birthday party-gone-wildly-expensive includes a meet and greet with the president at his home at 3 p.m. on Sunday for top dollar. Those who donate $5,000 will go to Obama's best friend's house -- Marty Nesbitt's home -- down the street instead for a photo op with the president.
For those unable or unwilling to donate those amounts, there's still a way to see the president this weekend. For a $1,000 donation, people can see Obama at Barbara Bowman's home for dessert. Obama will be speaking briefly in Ms. Bowman's back yard. Bowman is the mother of top Obama White House aide Valerie Jarrett.
Nesbitt is president and CEO of airport-parking company the Parking Spot, a business you just know is completely free from any taint of crony capitalism.
There have always one set of rules on the books in Chicago for the connected and another for the little people. ( Exhibit A, Bill Ayers) For a self described defender of the little people Obama has shown time and again he prefers the company of educated rich people. Why offer appropriate acknowledgment of accolades from all the little people when you can hobnob with those who fattened your campaign coffers and helped make your politically connected friends millionaires? How about because they are the ones who actually voted for you? One of the basic rules of politics is to always acknowledge your debt to the little people in your base.
We have all seen that the arrogance of our well schooled but not necessarily well educated elite crosses racial boundaries. It remains to be seen if middle and working class blacks are as fed up with their own elites as the rest of America has become fed up with those who feel that holding ivy league credentials grants them the privileges of monarchs. We will know by the turnout in November.