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question everything Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Apr-22-08 01:37 AM
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For Obama, Chicago Days Honed Tactics
The Wall Street Journal

For Obama, Chicago Days Honed Tactics
By JONATHAN KAUFMAN
April 21, 2008; Page A1

CHICAGO -- In his first run for public office in 1996, Barack Obama faced an unexpected obstacle. A liberal black incumbent had encouraged him to run for the Illinois state senate seat she intended to vacate. Then she changed her mind, deciding to run again. Mr. Obama hired a fellow Harvard Law School graduate, challenged the validity of signatures on her nominating petitions, and got her thrown off the ballot. He eventually ran unopposed, launching the career that has made him the front-runner for the Democratic nomination for president. In his books and speeches, Mr. Obama has cast himself as an underdog and an unconventional politician -- a stance that has spawned criticism in advance of Tuesday's Pennsylvania primary that he lacks the political skill and stamina to get elected. A look at his years in Chicago, based on interviews with friends, advisers, rivals and political strategists, reveals a shrewd combatant from one of the nation's toughest political arenas.

(snip)

For many decades, Chicago has been one of the nation's most distinctive political landscapes. Under the longtime leadership of Mayor Richard J. Daley, it became synonymous with one-party rule. Loyal Democrats were rewarded with jobs and services. Neighborhoods seen as politically disloyal sometimes faced problems such as unplowed winter streets. Many blacks felt shut out of the system altogether. When Mr. Obama arrived in 1985 at the age of 23, the city's political and racial landscape was changing. The city of Mayor Daley and his predominantly white Democratic machine was becoming the city of Michael Jordan and Oprah Winfrey. Harold Washington became the first black mayor in 1983 by reaching out to white voters. When Mayor Daley's son, Richard M. Daley, was elected mayor in 1989, he appointed numerous blacks to high positions, including Mr. Obama's girlfriend and future wife, Michelle.

(snip)

Mr. Obama had lived much of his life as an outsider: a biracial boy raised by a white mother and grandparents, an American in Indonesia, a Hawaiian native in New York. "He had never encountered blue-collar and lower-class African-Americans," says Mr. Kellman. "If he couldn't be comfortable emotionally with them, he couldn't build a political career." Mr. Obama organized poor and working-class blacks to lobby for a jobs center and for the removal of asbestos in a local housing project. "He was so young, but we followed him," says Margaret Mabry, who worked with him. "He found a way to be part of the black community and live beyond the black community," says Mr. Kellman. "He discovered he could live in both worlds."

(snip)

Mr. Obama sounded many of the themes he uses now. "The political debate is now so skewed, so limited, so distorted," he told a Chicago newspaper. "People are hungry for community; they miss it. They are hungry for change." In the Illinois State Senate, some Democrats and Republicans tagged Mr. Obama as an elitist who looked upon the state legislature as a political stepping stone. Chicagoans who knew him frequently offer stories of his intimidating intellect and sometimes chilly manner -- a counterpoint to the widely circulated stories about his skills as a listener and his ability to connect with people of different views.

(snip)

But Mr. Obama was aiming for higher things. Against the counsel of many of his advisers, he decided to run in the primary against Democratic Congressman Bobby Rush, a popular former Black Panther who represented a largely black district that included Hyde Park. Mr. Obama lost by 30 percentage points... Mr. Obama next set his sights on the 2004 Senate race. Several white Democrats were planning to run. If Mr. Obama could win the black vote and attract liberal whites, he figured he could get 30% of the vote, enough to win in a crowded field, according to his aides on that campaign. Learning from his prior defeat, he visited three black churches every Sunday, delivering his stump speech in the cadence of black preachers. He raised money furiously. Most importantly, Mr. Obama persuaded Mr. Axelrod, one of Chicago's most powerful political strategists, to run his campaign. Mr. Axelrod specialized in electing black candidates who could cross over and win white votes, emphasizing themes of unity and change. He also worked for Mayor Daley... Mr. Obama sailed to victory. By the end of the campaign, his aides were sending workers into Iowa, the first Presidential caucus state, to begin developing contacts among Democrats there, according to Al Kindle, an Obama campaign aid at the time.

(snip)



URL for this article:
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB120873956522230099.html (subscription)


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mopinko Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Apr-22-08 12:12 PM
Response to Original message
1. nice to see someone give him props for his chicago experience.
in the words of the late, great harold washington (who is mentioned WWAAAAAYYY to briefly) "politics ain't bean bag. it ain't tiddleywinks." (as barack has been known to say.)
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davsand Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Apr-22-08 12:35 PM
Response to Reply #1
3. We eat our young in Illinois politics.
If Obama made it here in our Illinois system, that man can go anyplace in the US and run successfully.

I have to admit I had to repress a grim smile when I saw here at DU that Obama yard signs were getting stolen and voting machines in minority precincts were not working correctly today. This is ALL stuff we see in every election, and it isn't gonna change the outcome of this race one bit. Obama has the chops and no election day hijinks are gonna take that away from him.

In Illinois politics is a blood sport.



Laura
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mopinko Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Apr-22-08 01:36 PM
Response to Reply #3
9. i am most hopeful that he will fight to count every vote.
i think that he will. i think that they have been, but doing it very quietly. there have been several stories about a delegate here, a delegate there, being investigated and changed. and the double bubble ballots in la county. they were not going to count those, then they quietly did. knowing his election law background, i am counting on him to do this. because you know they will TRY to steal it.
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MarjorieG Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Apr-22-08 04:28 PM
Response to Reply #9
13. He can't and that's our current election system of laws and machines.
No print-out to those electronic unverifiable machines. And those printers, not voter-marked, are not software independet and don't necessarilt reflect voters intent. Additionally, precincts don't want to count the, (difficult), not legally as strong as voter-marked, may print blank, get jammed, and laws actually support not counting them.

Hello 2008 election.
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mopinko Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Apr-22-08 05:50 PM
Response to Reply #13
14. election fraud did not begin with dre's. there are lots of other kinds. and
contrary to popular opinion, there is probably plenty of evidence left behind on those dre's that a proper forensic examination would disclose. they are not that advanced, technologically. it's all there. someone who did not buy the argument that intellectual property trumps the votes of we the people could do a lot. i have a sneaking suspicion that barack is that kind of person.
we shall see.
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mopinko Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Apr-22-08 12:12 PM
Response to Original message
2. oops. dupe. or maybe i should say it twice.
Edited on Tue Apr-22-08 12:12 PM by mopinko
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Bensthename Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Apr-22-08 12:41 PM
Response to Original message
4. A man from literally no where wins Chicago and then WH..
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mopinko Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Apr-22-08 12:44 PM
Response to Reply #4
6. meaning what?
my immediate reaction to your comment is to take it as a slur.
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Bensthename Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Apr-22-08 01:25 PM
Response to Reply #6
7. not all all.. Just the opposite.
No name recognition to begin with (actually like he says: his name is not an asset).. No real hometown roots to cheer him on in his early days in Chicago. He built a remarkable carrier on his talents alone.
He has an inspiring story.
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mopinko Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Apr-22-08 01:33 PM
Response to Reply #7
8. ok.
trying to calm down my hair trigger. it is so hot in here.
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Bensthename Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Apr-22-08 01:38 PM
Response to Reply #8
10. lol... I hear ya.
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question everything Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Apr-22-08 02:06 PM
Response to Reply #7
11. This has been my first reaction
I have said on many occasions that Obama is a blank slate, on whom millions have projected their hopes and aspirations and... will be quickly disappointed once he takes office, since no one, not even Obama, can be everything for everyone.

But when I've heard Hillary talking about her grandfather in a mill in Scranton, PA, and, of course, McCain's family goes several generations of Marines, I was thinking that Obama has no roots. Hawaii, Indonesia, and then, by coincidence or just a toss of a coin, he selected Chicago.

Will this help him or hurt him? Future will tell.

P.S. I am not an Obama supporter which means that this story was probably missed by many who are, on whose "ignore" list I take an honorary place - so I've heard. However, I thought that this was an interesting summary of his political career, and in the WSJ which is for paid subscribers only. Of course, many on DU would dismiss anything from the WSJ so...



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mopinko Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Apr-22-08 04:14 PM
Response to Reply #11
12. he's not a blank slate for me. but then, i am from chicago.
so, to me his story goes back to before i ever heard his name. knowing that he was organizing in harold washington's time tells me a lot.
also, he really was able to get off the ground with the help of his colleagues in the general assembly. i'm sure plenty of those folks would like to attain a higher office. but instead, they helped barack.
he has earned the fierce loyalty of a lot of politicians around here. that does not grow on trees.
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davsand Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Apr-22-08 07:08 PM
Response to Reply #11
15. Am I supposed to ignore you for not being an Obama supporter?
Holy crap--I missed THAT memo!

:evilgrin:

WSJ has been smacked around on here for sure, but they do manage some decent articles on occasion. As for Obama being that blank slate, I think that really IS in play this time for some people. We saw it right after he spoke at the DNC convention last time--he was an instant star with many people. Once he took office as a Senator, suddenly he became demon spawn to some of those same folks.

For those of us from Illinois, we KNOW this guy and we have seen him before. A lot of us will tell you we think he's the real deal but I guess time will have to prove (or disprove) the point. FWIW, I've been at this for "a few" years and I have NEVER seen one better. I saw him fire up a room full of Dems that could pass as a morgue usually. He's got a gift.



Laura
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question everything Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Apr-23-08 02:01 AM
Response to Reply #15
16. LOL, you may have missed some of the more vicious threads here
where someone would say - that is, you are on my "ignore" list.

Personally I have never used that function. What's a political forum without disagreement?

He certainly is charismatic and eloquent but for many of us, like Walter Mondale in 1984, we ask: where is the beef?

He himself admitted that he chooses to talk in general terms and send us to his web site to read the specifics. But in these days of short attention span and sound bites, most of us want to get some knowledge and understanding where the candidate stands.

I did not start as a Hillary supporter, but once the debates started, I was impressed with her concise and straight answers while the men hewed and hemmed. This was especially noticeable before NH, where there were only four of them.
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Adelante Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Apr-22-08 12:42 PM
Response to Original message
5. Very interesting article
Thanks for posting it.
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