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February 01, 2008


Hadn't thought of it that way, at all. The family connections are interesting, but if this were a major piston in the Obama engine wouldn't one have expected the Kennedy endorsements to have come much earlier in the campaign, rather than jumping on a well-rolling bandwagon?

Also, to explain the different demographics of Obama vs Clinton supporters (if indeed those numbers hold up), isn't it enough to say that Obama presents himself as more progressive and Clinton presents herself as more centrist (although in reality their voting records don't really back this up)?

But the idea of power centers of political connection and influence spreading webs throughout the country carries a lot of intrigue and a certain romance -- and sounds about right to boot. Besides the Daleys/Kennedys and Clintons, what other kinds of well-rooted power centers on the Democratic side are there (obviously, meaning ones linked more to personal connections, like the Kennedys, than to a shared cause, like a labor union power center)?

Finally, someone wakes up from Obamania to point out this important aspect of Obama's career: I'm a Chicago resident and while I didn't know about the Kennedy-Daley connection, I've known from the start that Obama was a classic Democratic machine politician. And that's why I'm still leery of voting for him. For all of his talk of change, he hasn't exactly done anything like that for Illinois. He's gone along with Illinois's age-old corrupt system of political dealers and the bloated institutions they control, even though it's more obvious than ever that their blatant patronage and excess are dragging down Chicago and the state instead keeping them at the top.

My view is that if he can't even begin to institute reforms at home, how can we expect him to take on Washington--a place he's known for a whopping 2 years?

For those who want to read themselves into the Kennedy/Daley connections, find virtually any book on the 1960 campaign that also deals with Joe Kennedy, and how he financed Jack's campaign. It is all out there.

Much of this is about Irish Catholic Legitimacy. Behind both of these families is the struggle to rise above the status of the first generation immigrant milue, the famine which still haunts Irish Catholics who trace back to migrations in the 1840's and 1850's, the "No Irish Need Apply" signs at places of employment, and all the rest. Part of that struggle involved creating Urban Political Machines that allowed pol's to take care of their own, and at the same time become players in the game. When you don't have a good social safety net this kind of machine looks pretty good to many folk. Yes it is corrupt in many ways, but we also know the Republican Business side is also corrupt -- Enron let's say or Halliburton -- and we can name many others.

I suspect before the Kennedy's handed over their endorsement, they wanted to see what Obama could really do in the campaigns -- and they would have closely looked at the four caucuses and primaries to see if he could bring home the bacon. They are clear-headed realists, and obviously know something about getting elected. Yes, they probably expect Richard J Daley and old Joe Kennedy to have a little talk with God about this, but it was Jack who said "On this Earth God's Work must surely be our own." So just as Ted Kennedy once tried to recapture the party from that Georgia Peanut Farmer, now he has his doubts about a reformed Goldwater Girl.

And in fact, I am not all that certain that the "take care of our own" ethic of the Urban Machine just might not be preferable to the alternative. I really don't know, but I think the contrasting power centers are very much in need of discussion. And yes, power center theory is something you study in Political Science 101. Political Science is a sub-set of Sociology, which is, simply put, a study of the social bond.

I'm from Chicago and from what I recall Obama was going against the machine not with it when he ran for state and then federal office.

"My view is that if he can't even begin to institute reforms at home, how can we expect him to take on Washington--a place he's known for a whopping 2 years?"

Ethics reform and police reform. He got them both done in Illinois and that's pretty big.

Jay, the Hyde Park seat in the Illinois Legislature always goes to a Clean Intellectual acceptable to the U of Chicago community. It is sometimes called the Paul Douglass Seat -- but just as a party hack would need the machine blessing in one of the River Wards, it is also necessary in Hyde Park, though it may appear to be somewhat independent of the Machine. The Machine is made of many different parts.

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