Obama was an unusual candidate for president in 2008. I had serious questions in 2008.
One criticism of Obama is that his portfolio is mighty thin. He has no record. Well, he actually does and and here it is. Pretty interesting.
It’s a lengthy record filled with core liberal issues. But what’s interesting, and almost never discussed, is that he built his entire legislative record in Illinois in a single year.
Why was that ? In 2002, the Democrats took over the Illinois legislature, not because of Bush as the reporter says, but because the Republican governor got caught selling drivers’ licenses to truckers with bad driving records. A disastrous truck accident splashed the whole story across the newspapers and the Democrats took over in the next election.
The white, race-baiting, hard-right Republican Illinois Senate Majority Leader James “Pate” Philip was replaced by Emil Jones Jr., a gravel-voiced, dark-skinned African-American known for chain-smoking cigarettes on the Senate floor.
Jones had served in the Illinois Legislature for three decades. He represented a district on the Chicago South Side not far from Obama’s. He became Obama’s kingmaker.
Several months before Obama announced his U.S. Senate bid, Jones called his old friend Cliff Kelley, a former Chicago alderman who now hosts the city’s most popular black call-in radio program.
I called Kelley last week and he recollected the private conversation as follows:
“He said, ‘Cliff, I’m gonna make me a U.S. Senator.’”
“Oh, you are? Who might that be?”
Obama ended up in the US Senate because the GOP Senator, Peter Fitzgerald, did not run for re-election. Why ?
While State Senator he was a member of a group of conservative state senators elected in 1992 who often challenged the leadership of the Illinois Republican Party and were dubbed the “Fab Five”, the group also included, Steve Rauschenberger, Dave Syverson, Patrick O’Malley and Chris Lauzen.
After a hard-fought primary victory against Illinois Comptroller Loleta Didrickson, in which the latter had the support of most national and state-level Republican leaders, Fitzgerald defeated first-term Democratic incumbent U.S. Senator Carol Moseley Braun in 1998, and served for one term in the U.S. Senate. He was the first Republican in Illinois to win a U.S. Senate race in 20 years, and the only Republican challenger in the country to defeat an incumbent Democratic senator in the 1998 election cycle. Although Moseley Braun was dogged by negative publicity of corruption charges, Fitzgerald defeated her by only 2.9%.
Fitzgerald is a staunch conservative on such issues as opposition to abortion (except to save the life of the mother), gun control, gay marriage and taxes, but on some issues, particularly environmental issues — he opposed drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge throughout his tenure in the US Senate — he broke with conservative colleagues. He was one of only a handful of GOP Senators to support the McCain-Feingold campaign finance reform legislation.
He was a “maverick” and was not supported by “the Illinois Combine,” a term coined by columnist John Kass to describe the bipartisan corruption in Illinois politics that has brought the state to bankruptcy.
I called former U.S. Sen. Peter Fitzgerald, the Republican maverick from Illinois who tried to fight political corruption and paid for it. For this sin, he was driven out of Illinois politics by political bosses, by their spinners and media mouthpieces, who ridiculed him mercilessly.
Senator, what do you call that connection that Stuart Levine describes from the witness stand, you know that arrangement across party lines, with politically powerful men leveraging government to make money — what do you call it?
“What do you call that Illinois political class that’s not committed to any party, they simply want to make money off the taxpayers?” Fitzgerald said. “You know what to call them.”
“The Illinois Combine,” Fitzgerald said. “The bipartisan Illinois political combine. And all these guys being mentioned, they’re part of it.”
More from Fitzgerald’d biography.
Fitzgerald declined to run for reelection largely because many Republican insiders who had failed to support him in his first run in 1998 had made it clear he would not have their support in 2004 either. In 2009, conservative journalist John Fund wrote:
“Sen. Fitzgerald also labeled an Illinois congressional delegation ‘wish list’ of $600 million in projects being submitted to President Bush as a ‘mega-hog letter … The mere fact that a project is located somewhere within the state of Illinois does not mean that it is inherently meritorious”, he wrote to speaker Hastert, who called such criticism ‘grandstanding’ … [T]he senator accused GOP governor George Ryan, now serving a six-and-a-half-year prison sentence on a corruption conviction, of opposing competitive bidding rules so he could dole money to political allies. ‘I want Illinois to get a $150 million (Abraham Lincoln) library, not a $50 million library that just happens to cost $150 million’, Fitzgerald told fellow senators.”
Fitzgerald’s resignation from the Republican Senatorial Trust raised eyebrows because many questioned his allegiance to the party.
As a result, in an almost divine retribution, we got Barack Obama.
Now, we have speculation about “the puzzle of Obama.”
She, like me, is a fan of Richard Fernandez.
The validation of so many sad insights is of little consolation unless one is like those movie paleontologists so happy to be vindicated in their prediction that dinosaurs still exist that they do not care that they are about to be eaten by one. One can only hope the readers of this site are not similarly consoled. A history of good guesses does nothing to answer the problem which desperately needs solving: alright we’re in a crisis, but what do we do now? How do we dig ourselves out of the hole?
Aside from reading Charles Murray’s new book,“By the People: Rebuilding Liberty Without Permission,” I have been thinking about revolutions.
On May 5, 1789, Louis XVI convened the Estates-General. Almost immediately, it became apparent that this archaic arrangement—the group had last been assembled in 1614—would not sit well with its present members. Although Louis XVI granted the Third Estate greater numerical representation, the Parlement of Paris stepped in and invoked an old rule mandating that each estate receive one vote, regardless of size. As a result, though the Third Estate was vastly larger than the clergy and nobility, each estate had the same representation—one vote. Inevitably, the Third Estate’s vote was overridden by the combined votes of the clergy and nobility.
The present day ruling elite is the modern version of the First and Second Estate. We are losing to ISIS, and more lately, to Russia which is replacing us in the Middle East. Fortunately, and contrary to the efforts of Obama, we are no longer dependent on the Middle East for oil.
There’s no outrage because the media, our bipartisan political establishment, and indeed the American people themselves are unwilling to face the scope of the challenge the Islamic State presents. To uproot it we would have to send U.S. ground forces to Iraq in large numbers, not just special forces operating in tandem with unrestricted air support. We would have to retake and hold ground lost in the years since we departed Iraq, and we would have to commit to remaining in Iraq and Syria for a long time. To deal a blow to radical Islam that would deter recruitment, stop the bandwagon effect, and secure America from attack by militants and their fellow-travelers would require a military and economic commitment the United States, least of all our president, is simply not prepared to make.
The Putin Russians are talking our place and reversing course is no longer an option. What now ?
Obama considers himself a man of destiny. He seems to have believed that his election itself would have a transformative effect on America, separate from any particular programs or policies he would put into place once inaugurated. He promised change, yes; but the very first change would be the fact that he–Barack Obama, an African-American man–had been elected president. If slavery was (and in some sense still is) America’s original sin, and if the Civil War wasn’t enough to undo that fundamental flaw, then Obama’s election would be a sign that America had finally taken a decisive step to purge itself of that sin.
A step, yes; but only the first in a lengthy process. The second step would be confession. And there were many other sins as well for which America must begin to atone. That is why Obama proceeded to go on a worldwide tour early in his presidency, apologizing to nation after nation for America’s manifold sins of hubris and exceptionalism, militarism and imperialism, greed and excess. These were the many ways in which Obama and his fellow leftists have reframed American exceptionalism as American tyranny.
I fear she is right and the present course is not one we can sustain forever. For one thing, we are being invaded by illegal aliens and more recently by Muslim immigrants. Both have been encouraged by Obama and his administration.
At this this time in history the Left may be correct about what truly matters. The institutional Republicans are still playing the game of administration. By contrast Obama is playing the game of revolution. By slow degrees the entire political system is coming around to Obama’s point of view. Perhaps this is no ordinary time. When Hillary calls Republicans “terrorists” and Obama calls them “crazies”; when Sanders and Trump are outflanking the established wings of their respective parties, each of these in its own way suggests the emphasis of the next ten years will not be on public administration but on determining the power relationships within America and among the countries of the world.
Power relationships in the USA may not always be peaceful. Is Obama our punishment for Illinois political corruption ?