Sunday, June 08, 2008

What is John Kass' obsession with Barack Obama?

I really don't get it.

I try not to let John Kass get under my skin. I admire his background as a reporter and I think he turns a poetic phrase. But his overwhelming narcissism to fancy himself a political force unto himself combined with his currently zealotry to convince the national press that Barack Obama is not a political reformer because....because he's from Chicago! is getting ridiculous.

His latest column is a good example

For the last, oh, three years, John Kass has tried to sully up Obama's well-deserved reputation as a force for government transparency because he is not waging a battle in the city council against (presumably) Mayor Daley. That's enough to make him borderline corrupt in Kass' columns. Helping to negotiate the biggest Illinois ethics reform since Watergate in his first few years as a state senator? No big deal. Moving the federal ethics law forward after the Dems cleaned up Congress in 2007, essentially on his own through relentless advocacy for greater transparency within the caucus? Whatever. Conceiving of and passing the most aggressive procurement transparency measure the federal government has ever done in partnership with a conservate Republican back when he was in the minority? So what? He endorsed Daley for mayor! So he must be corrupt!

I mean, if Barack Obama were an Alderman and wasn't vigorously pursuing out of some deference to Daley the exact same agenda of transparency and reform that he has successfully implemented in every legislature that he has served, then I think Kass would have a point. But, of course, he's not an Alderman. He's working on federal transparency instead of municipal transparency because, oh, that's his job. 

I really hope Kass quits trying to connect invisible dots for other reporters in some vain attempt to alter Obama's well-earned reputation as a political reformer. It's getting a little creepy.  


Reed said...

I've noticed the same thing, Dan. It has gotten to the point where I don't read any of Kass' columns anymore (not that I was his most rabid fan to begin with). I can only imagine that he feels that he's found his "angle" on the Obama story and keeps hoping that it will gain traction. But nobody's buying it because it's too far-fetched. Well, Fox & Friends may eventually get to it. They seem to be out of ideas at this point.

Loki said...

I voted Hilary Clinton, and only support Hilary Clinton, No matter what Hilary Does suspend her campaign concede her campaign. No matter what Hilary does she could even support Obama and campaign for Obama I will never Vote for Barack Obama, I do think Amercia is ready for a black president, just not Barack Obama,,, The way The Democratic party handle this election with the Corporate Media propaganding this whole election, Turned this election upside down,, Obama could of ran over someone,, like Haley Berry, No one would care and still vote,, Obama..
There several million Voter right now like my self, will not ever vote for Barack Obama, Many like my self will be Voting for McCain, my reason is simple,, the Obama voter came on CNN & MSNBC and said if obama does not win the primary, Obama supporter will vote for McCain, Democratic party did not do anything to the obama camp to stop ,, why is obama party splittin the party in half, Now pelosi and many other are blamming Hilary and kept on with the propaganda Corporate Media, Obama Said on the new so many time,, does not Matter, if your Democrat or Republican,, you want the right person for the right Job,, He is so right,,when He said that we wanted Hilary,, Well Congrats to Obama his supporter got him to the primary,,,but He will never win the election,, for Prisident, I will not stop with my blogging,, who is the best man for the job between Barack & McCain,, will vote for McCain he will be way better than Barack Obama, I can put up for McCain for 4 years and Hilary Can run again, Pelosi and the rest of the democrat party,, days are number at this point, For pushing Hilary out and ruining her Career, Even now During Clinton Exit speech,, Democratic party Told Hilary if she does not back there little puppet Barack Obama they will ruin her career,, In my opinion They all ready Ruined Hilary Clintons Career, Right Now I am goint listen to one thing Barack Obama said, and that is, like I said, it does not matter if your Democrat or republican who is the right person for the job,,,, Hillary supporter need to stick together, Vote for McCain or just not vote for we need the right person,,, Hilary is up on stage right now saying what pelosi and the democratic party are telling her what to do,, or Economy is down and the way the propaganda Media is,, we are turning into a 3rd world country,, by rigging the election thru the media, Hilary Supporter who really want Hilary to be president Need to vote for McCain or just not Vote for Barack Obama, let McCain win,, there nothing more he can do as president, Congress will not let him it Congress who controls everything,, not the president, Pelosi and the a lot of the democratic party ruined Hilary Career, If all Hilary Voter, stick together, than We can restore Hilary Career and make her President, in 4 years. if you vote for Obama we have to wait maybe 8 years or 4 years and republican will be office, if Obama wins the presidency he will only be 4 year term,,, I say give all your supporter not to the democratic party, but to Hilary Clinton.. democratic party needs all of them need to leave office and get fresh people in there, who can unite the party not keep it separated and force unity, to who they want not who the voter want,, Hilary would of won this election, DNC screwed her with floriday and Michigan if those vote were counted at the beginning she would of won this race along time ago..and for the sexest Media, Like CNN & MSNBC… will continue to not report the new but Make it up as they see fit, All Hilary supporter need to unit together.. and stick together,, Margaret Thatcher was prime Minister 30 years ago,, but American Men and New Bias, is keeping woman down for personal gain, Like Keith Oberman, & Chris Mathews Who are the biggest Sexest on this MSNBC stations,

Kevin said...

I agree with Reed – he's probing for a new angle on Obama/Chicago Machine guilt-by-association attack. It's a weak argument to begin with, but it's also completely false, and won't fly – not even on Fox News (they'd rather stick with the pathetic terrurist/sekrit Muslim falsehoods).

But I also think that Kass is fundamentally a lazy columnist who has run out of other easy topics he wants to write about. Because Obama is hot and Kass has a fairly unique take on the topic, the editors are happy to let him run with it.

Kass is flawed in many ways beyond laziness, and that he is so flawed is why I don't let him get under my skin. Just think of how much worse off you'd be if his column were in the hands of better conservative writer. You don't have to look too far in the blogosphere to find people who could do a much better job for "their" side.

Full disclosure: I measure laziness by the lack of: volume of writing, diversity of topics, and evidence of original reportage. Kass may be working his Dockers-sized butt off over at CLTV or WGN, but I'm familiar only his work at the Tribune.

Dan Johnson-Weinberger said...

Thanks Reed and Kevin. And, of course, the idea of "the cesspool of Chicago politics" is, in my view, very overblown. While there is still too large a percentage of the electorate that tolerates corruption (and thus allows the old school behavior to continue), that percentage is shrinking as those people die. I think the reformers are growing in strength every year.

Loki said...

This make no sense. on what I said, one thing for certain is.. every one has the right to vote, with out being pushed, by the Media and there propaganda, If Obama your choice, than vote for him,, I will not vote for Barack because to me he is not qualified, to be commander and chief, I do think America ready for a black president, but Not barack obama, nothing will change that, Ever, you can whine and complain all you want, not going to change a thing, you can Riot in the streets, still wont change how people vote, If Obama supporter can organize, and say if Obama don't win the primary obama supporter will vote for McCain, Now that he won there should be unity, by force, such a typical double standard

Steve Bartin said...

I think Kass is more than right on this one.Obama is every bit the machine politician Chicago Democrats are looking for.When you hang out with Tony Rezko and do real estate deals with him,that's the Chicago Way.Obama supported Todd Stroger when he could have supported Claypool.Obama's political mentor has been Emil Jones(no reformer).Obama worked in Allison Davis' law firm,a white collar private patronage style operation of the Daley Machine.So,the facts are pretty clear Obama is a status quo type of guy.The more interesting questions are have the Feds interviewed Obama about his relationship with Rezko and/or Allision Davis??? Chicago is obviously the sleaziest large city in America.That's why the FBI has the largest public corruption squad in Chicago.The recent building inspectors,Hired Truck,the Sorich patronage operation,the Water Department,The SOS unit,The Duffs,Operation Family Secrets,Tony Rezko,and on and on.Patrick Fitzgerald has ample evidence that Chicago's government is itself a racketeering enterprise.Honest Chicago citizens can only hope that Fitzgerald will sue Chicago as such.

Reed said...

I had one more thought. Kass' line of argument reminds me of the 9/11 conspiracy theorists. His best argument is "where there's smoke, there's fire." But if you're going to impugn the guy, you need to get some evidence. 9/11 conspiracy theorists believe that George Bush blew up the twin towers, but if they don't have any evidence, nobody is going to listen to them. Somehow these approaches feel the same to me. Not great company for Kass...

@Steve, Detroit is still a large city, and significantly more sleazy than Chicago. (But yeah, maybe we're #2?)

Steve Bartin said...


No question Detroit is a sleazy place.But,it's not in Chicago's league.Where else could a "high ranking made member" of the Mob be elected to a City Council? Today in 2008,the FBI and Justice Department are still dealing with how Alderman Roti high jacked Chicago's political system.

Kevin said...

Steve's take on the depth of corruption in Chicago may be somewhat accurate, but its relation to Obama is not. Regarding Rezko, at the time of Obama's ill-considered real estate dealings with him, Rezko was a hustling businessman, but nonetheless a legitimate one in the eyes of but a select few. It must have been tempting for an eager and not well-off up-and-comer like Obama to establish closer – and more lucrative – ties to the likes of Rezko. That he didn't speaks well of his caution (that he dealt with him at all speaks to his ambition, but that's another issue).

Regarding the contest for county board president, just about every major politician except for the north siders endorsed Stroger, no? Not to mention all the unions. My memory is vague, so if anyone can name some major Claypool endorsers south of North Ave., please chime in. Given that Claypool lost, Obama's was the smart endorsement – "don't back no losers" is sound political advice outside Chicago as well. And remember when this race started up, Obama's popularity with African-American voters was questioned; opposing Stroger would not have helped then (BTW if you don't remember those early days, checkout The Daily Show and Larry Wilmore's dead-on analysis).

And Obama's two highest races point to his independence from the Chicago machine. One is his losing challenge to Bobby Rush, and the other is his senate bid, which cost machine product Dan Hynes the seat. After Obama won the primary, the machine endorsed him so he'd go to Washington and be out of their hair. And when Daley ran for re-election, Obama returned the favor. That there wasn't an electable alternative probably helped this decision – the "don't back no losers" principle again. And that Obama and Daley share David Axelrod as an advisor is almost certainly another factor.

I think a majority of American will be come to know Obama as a Chicago politician who functioned with the Chicago machine, but was not sucked into it. And they will discover what an achievement that has been, and how fortunate we would be to have someone with those skills in our highest office.

David Ormsby said...

Well written post, Dan.

mary said...

J.k. is correct..too bad for those who don't want to open their eyes...with Obama keeping people like PENNY PRITZER DAVIS AXLEROD AND VALERIE JARRETT on his campaign committee his hands are in the cookie jar just now he wants a bigger jar...let's not forget AYERS. and WRIGHT WHO WAS ON COMMITTEE until people caught Obama lying but yet with Jarrett and Davis And Rezko and the $175,000 THEY GAVE oBAMA in the last 10 years and Pritzer with her defunked Superior bank and her owing $450 mill to FDIC (will Obama "forgive" her of this loan??? but then again her and her family gave Obama (HYATT family)$40,000 in 2002-2004...a politician of "CHANGE" YES the $$$$ change and no "special interest" people either huh????