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Chicago Magazine: The President's Neighborhood by David Bernstein

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Adelante Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jul-10-09 11:20 AM
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Chicago Magazine: The President's Neighborhood by David Bernstein
This is one of those very interesting articles about Hyde Park, for when you have time on your hands:

Its half past brunch at the Medici on 57th Street. The place is thick with conversation. And graffiti. Words provide sustenance around here. Hyde Park is a nourishing space for discourseon a variety of levels, notes James Grossman, the vice president for research and education at the Newberry Library who served as a coeditor of The Encyclopedia of Chicago (2004).

The burgers and garbage pizza get a lot of well-deserved attention in this space, where the University of Chicago campus and the rest of the Hyde ParkKenwood community get blended like the Meds milk shakes, and where the talk can float between pop culture and the Bulls and politics and, of course, poststructural literary criticism. Its a place where the waitersoften brainy U. of C. students who have been heard to work their way into the table talkwear Medici on 57th Street T-shirts that boast Obama eats here. Hyde Park is a very small town, Grossman says. You engage because these people are your neighbors.

People from outside the community dont always seem to get it. Berkeley with snow is how the conservative Weekly Standard distilled Hyde Park. Considering the source, that was hardly a compliment. And its not true, says Grossman. On any level. He should know. He holds a Ph.D. in history from Berkeley, and has taught history at the U. of C.

This is not a place of extremes, not all black and white. Gray matters in the nuanced, multilayered discussions that connect people in Hyde Park. They value the content, says Grossman. This is an inclusive place of ideas. And the inclusive thing, Grossman insists, is to create an environment where all ideas are acceptable to voice. And I think this is a place that is closer to that than many other places in the United States.

If Barack Obama is, indeed, the face of the richly diverse Hyde Park, it is not just because of his blended race. It is also because of his blended ideas.

Continues /

The June 2009 issue also has this article about Blagojevich and the Chicago Obama team:

Chicago Straight

By David Bernstein

In the days following his arrest on corruption charges last December 9th, Governor Rod Blagojevich did his best to appear busy. He visited his 16th-floor suite at the Thompson Center, once even showing up in a jogging outfit. He signed bills, issued press releases, expunged criminal records. And he hardly wasted an opportunity to sling mud at other local Democrats, taking particular delight in sullying the veneer of President-elect Barack Obama and his Chicago team headed for the White House.

Give me a chance to call in witnesses like Rahm Emanuel, the presidents chief of staff, who said there was nothing inappropriate in his conversations with me, Blagojevich said on NBCs Today show, during one in a round of interviews he gave in the weeks before he was ousted from office. Give me a chance to bring in Valerie Jarrett, now a White House senior adviser. When Greta Van Susteren of Fox News asked if he would try to call Obama as a defense witness, the governor replied, I would not rule anything in or rule anything out.

His whole thing wasdirty everybody up, show that everybodys just as dirty as him, says one former aide to Blagojevich. He never wanted to go down alone.

Whether the ex-governor succeeds in soiling others will be determined in the coming months, as federal prosecutors press their case against him. An indictment handed down in April charged Blagojevich and a small circle of aides and colleagues with wide-ranging corruption, including the notorious effort to personally profit from filling Obamas vacated U.S. Senate seat. More charges may follow as the investigation continues.

At this writing, U.S. attorney Patrick Fitzgerald had said nothing to implicate Obama or his aides in wrongdoing. Still, with at least 40 references to Obama and his associates in the original 76-page criminal complaint, the scandal has cast a shadowy light on the connections between Blagojevich, Obama, and Emanuel, whose careers often overlapped, and who all drew on the skills of David Axelrod, the architect of Obamas Senate and presidential campaigns and now a White House senior adviser.

Understandably, the Obama camp has tried to downplay the connections, most notably with a report by the future White House counsel Greg Craig asserting that no one on the president-elects staff, including Obama, had inappropriate discussions with the governor about deals for the Senate seat. But the Craig report focused exclusively on Blagojevichs alleged wheeling and dealing around the seat, and beyond that time frame, the interplay of Blagojevich, Obama, Emanuel, and Axelrod goes deep into the recent history of Illinois politics. None of those four principals would talk for this article, but interviews with three dozen sources and an examination of the record tell a complex story spun within a world where relationships are nuanced and, in some cases, baffling. For years, these four talented and ambitious men worked with and around each other. There are indications that Obama and Axelrod were wary of Blagojevich, though they never publicly broke with him. Until the arrest, Emanuel stayed in close contact with the governorperhaps closer and longer than the Craig report indicated. As Blagojevichs career tumbled, his jealousy of Obama grew. In all, the mix of alliances, deals, and resentments makes up a potent brew that could yet stain the White House.

Continues /

I hope these haven't been posted earlier - I haven't seen them here. I came across them this morning working on a wiki and thought some DUers might enjoy reading them. I've noticed before that Chicago Magazine will do articles that seem to promise more than they can deliver, when it comes to Obama's dealings in the Chicago political structure - they're always looking for a political scandal, ending up with very little to go on. Keeping that in mind, the articles are always detailed and interesting.
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Cha Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jul-10-09 07:03 PM
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1. Thanks, Adelante..I
find it a very interesting part of history.
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