Sunday, July 13, 2008

The Elite-Radical Fist Bump from Heaven

It's deliciously tasteless, which is the oxymoron that came to me upon seeing the New Yorker's July 21st cover image of Barack and Michelle Obama:

Photobucket

The cover's certainly going to draw fire over the next couple of days, from folks on the same side of the spectrum to which the magazine calls home.

An added bonus is the New Yorker's new feature story, "
Making It: How Chicago Shaped Obama," an expose of Obama's politically successful assimilation to the Windy City's leftist political machine.

The piece discusses Obama's run for the State Senate, begining in early 1995, and includes this passage on Obama's campaign associations:

Bill Ayers and Bernadine Dohrn ... held an event for Obama. Forty years ago, Ayers and Dohrn were leaders of the Weathermen, the militant antiwar group that bombed the Pentagon and the United States Capitol. By the time Obama met Ayers, the former radical and onetime fugitive had been accepted into polite Chicago society and had been reborn as an education expert, eventually working as an informal adviser to Mayor Daley. (Those ties remain intact in the jumbled culture of Chicago politics. When Obama’s association with Ayers first became a campaign issue, Daley, whose father, in 1968, sent his police force into the streets to combat Ayers’s fellow-radicals, issued a statement praising Ayers as “a valued member of the Chicago community.”)
Here's a bit more discussion, further down in the piece, addressing Obama political style once in office:

Obama began writing a regular column—“Springfield Report”—for the Hyde Park Herald. In the first one, on February 19, 1997, he wrote, “Last year, President Clinton signed a bill that, for the first time in 60 years, eliminates the federal guarantee of support for poor families and their children.” The column was earnest and wonky. It betrayed no hint of liberal piety about the new law, but emphasized that there weren’t enough entry-level jobs in Chicago to absorb all the welfare recipients who would soon be leaving the system.

In effect, while President Clinton and the national Democratic Party were drifting to the right, State Senator Obama pushed in the opposite direction. The new welfare law was one of the first issues that Obama faced as a legislator. “I am not a defender of the status quo with respect to welfare,” he said, choosing his words with care during debate on the Illinois Senate floor. “Having said that, I probably would not have supported the federal legislation, because I think it had some problems.
Well, so much for Obama's New Democrat orientation (recall the speech on the 2004 Democratic National Convention, where Obama called for more personal responsibility in the black community)!

Note
this section as well, on Obama's optimal machine-style legislative gerrymandering:

One day in the spring of 2001 ... Obama walked into the Stratton Office Building, in Springfield, a shabby nineteen-fifties government workspace for state officials next to the regal state capitol. He went upstairs to a room that Democrats in Springfield called “the inner sanctum.” Only about ten Democratic staffers had access; entry required an elaborate ritual—fingerprint scanners and codes punched into a keypad. The room was large, and unremarkable except for an enormous printer and an array of computers with big double monitors. On the screens that spring day were detailed maps of Chicago, and Obama and a Democratic consultant named John Corrigan sat in front of a terminal to draw Obama a new district. Corrigan was the Democrat in charge of drawing all Chicago districts, and he also happened to have volunteered for Obama in the campaign against [Congressman Bobby] Rush.

Obama’s former district had been drawn by Republicans after the 1990 census. But, after 2000, Illinois Democrats won the right to redistrict the state. Partisan redistricting remains common in American politics, and, while it outrages a losing party, it has so far survived every legal challenge. In the new century, mapping technology has become so precise and the available demographic data so rich that politicians are able to choose the kinds of voter they want to represent, right down to individual homes.

Obama began working on his “ideal map.” Corrigan remembers two things about the district that he and Obama drew. First, it retained Obama’s Hyde Park base—he had managed to beat Rush in Hyde Park—then swooped upward along the lakefront and toward downtown. By the end of the final redistricting process, his new district bore little resemblance to his old one. Rather than jutting far to the west, like a long thin dagger, into a swath of poor black neighborhoods of bungalow homes, Obama’s map now shot north, encompassing about half of the Loop, whose southern portion was beginning to be transformed by developers like Tony Rezko, and stretched far up Michigan Avenue and into the Gold Coast, covering much of the city’s economic heart, its main retail thoroughfares, and its finest museums, parks, skyscrapers, and lakefront apartment buildings. African-Americans still were a majority, and the map contained some of the poorest sections of Chicago, but Obama’s new district was wealthier, whiter, more Jewish, less blue-collar, and better educated....

In the end, Obama’s North Side fund-raising base and his South Side political base were united in one district. He now represented Hyde Park operators like Lois Friedberg-Dobry as well as Gold Coast doyennes like Bettylu Saltzman, and his old South Side street operative Al Kindle as well as his future consultant David Axelrod. In an article in the Hyde Park Herald about how “partisan” and “undemocratic” Illinois redistricting had become, Obama was asked for his views. As usual, he was candid. “There is a conflict of interest built into the process,” he said. “Incumbents drawing their own maps will inevitably try to advantage themselves.”
That's an incredibly revealing passage: The concluding sentence is the perfect summation of what I was thinking upon reading these paragraphs: Obama's a classic inner-city pol, an old-school party boss who shamelessly used the perks of the Cook County system to work his way up to power.

What's even more interesting, though less noticeable, is that Obama's new "Hide Park, South Side" ward is essentially America's most unusually postmodern neighborhood.

As Andrew Ferguson wrote recently, in his penetrating essay, "
Mr. Obama's Neighborhood":

When Barack Obama was briefly embarrassed earlier this year by his association with the onetime bomb-builder and wannabe bomb-exploder William Ayers, he blamed his neighborhood, sort of. "He's a guy who lives in my neighborhood," Obama said with a shrug, as if to say, "Don't we all have to put up with these cranky old domestic terrorists wandering through the yard?" But of course not every neighborhood has a former Weatherman and his wife, former Weathermoll Bernardine Dohrn, living in it, especially not as twin pillars of the community. Obama's casual dismissal led people all across America, people who live in all kinds of communities without bombers, to look at each other and say: "Wow, what kind of neighborhood does Barack live in?"
Yes, what kind of neighborhood?

Well, as we can see, it's a neighborhood that Obama's utilized perfectly for his political rise. He employed his local party machine connections to tailor a redistricting plan that captured former '60s-era revolutionaries in residence, as well as one of the country's most prestigious college campuses, the University of Chicago, an institution flowing with postmodern intellectualism and home-grown political activism, a "
Berkeley with snow."

We might describe such a neighborhood environment as, well, elitist and radical. Elite radicalism perfectly captures the essence of Barack Obama, a man at once comfortable calling white working class voters "bitter" (a notion weighted with Marxist implications), while at the same time one who was indoctrinated to Chicago's black liberationist religious power movement for nearly twenty years.

If Barack Obama's elected in November, we'll see the accession of a machine-style party boss to the Oval Office, one who'll assemble a Democratic administration steeped in a community mobilization and organization tradition, and one prone to capture by some of the
most implacable left-wing interest groups ever in American history.

In any case, that cover drawing really is the "elite-radical fist bump from heaven"!

**********

Neocon Express hits the nail on the head, preempting left-wing dismissal or outrage:
With the Reverend Wright, William Ayers, Luis Farrakhan, Khaleed Rashidi and the long list of radicals, tyrants, terrorist-sympathizers and loony-toons supporting Obama ... This image simply hits too close to home. If that were not the case, than the image would be immediately recognized by all as satire. It's not. Which says everything.

Be sure to check out Glenn Reynolds' round up of reactions to both the cover art and the "Making It" article.

See also, "'Scare Tactic' — Obama Slams Muslim Portrayal," and "Yikes! Controversial New Yorker Cover Shows Muslim, Flag-Burning, Osama-Loving, Fist-Bumping Obama."

1 comments:

Anonymous said...

^^ nice blog!! ^@^

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