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Obamarama - NYT on our country bumpkin legislature

Monday, Jul 30, 2007 - Posted by Rich Miller

* The lede of the latest Barack Obama in Springfield profile succinctly sums up how the national press corps too often views us lowly “flyover” types…

There was something improbable about the new guy from Chicago via Honolulu and Jakarta, Indonesia, the one with the Harvard law degree and the job teaching constitutional law, turning up in Springfield, Ill., in January 1997 among the housewives, ex-mayors and occasional soybean farmer serving in the State Senate.

[Emphasis added.]

From reading the story, it looks like NY Times reporter Janny Scott spent at least some time in Springfield. So, you’d think Scott would have noticed that there is more to the General Assembly’s makeup than what was reported. However, it is, after all, a citizens legislature. Pardon us for not measuring up to the standards of the eastern elite.

As is usual with these Springfield stories emanating from the big outlets, almost nothing new was reported. You got yer Denny Jacobs quotes, the Emil Jones as his mentor stuff, congressional bid against Bobby Rush rehash, highlights of his push for ethics reforms, lowlights of his tiffs with a couple of his fellow African-American Senators, blah, blah, blah. It’s mainly the standard fare.

There was one tiny new revelation, though…

(Sen. Rickey) Hendon, who says he is writing a book on electoral politics called “Backstabbers,” …

I’d read that book.


  1. - VanillaMan - Monday, Jul 30, 07 @ 10:24 am:

    The NYT article is really weird.
    IT is so full of empty claims and has been edited and rewritten to fit space and deadlines, it reads poorly. It fills in no blanks. It is not at all enlightening.

    Jones comes off like some kind of ignorant boob, unaware of his own power. Jones is told by Obama that he is a powerful man? Since when did that fantasy story start?

    Listen - Obama has been a senator for about 34 months, yet he stands next to 30 year plus government veterans running for the Democratic nomination and claim that only he knows what would be needed as president? He stood at the last debate, literally looking down his nose at everyone around him. He put on his TV face when the red light went on, and spouted Hallmark Card sentiments without stumbling, but c’mon!

    Even if he was able to surgically remove his ears, could he get his big head through a doorway? Even if I was voting in the Democratic primary this time, and I voted for him twice before in 2004 - I can see right through his transparent sound bites and see the bloated ego behind them.

    Maybe thats why this article is show crummy. There is only so much hot air you can pump into a little balloon before it pops.

  2. - Captain America - Monday, Jul 30, 07 @ 10:29 am:

    I thought the most salient and insightful comment in this Obama article in this was about Illinois politics and government

    Kent Redfield (UIC Springfield):

    “It’s power poltics, and it’s poltics as business, and its winning and control. The mind-set is that it’s not the public’s business. That’s part of the culture. It’s about the politicians, and the politicans own the company.”

    Ths quote succinctly captures how our government operates in the State,in Cook County, and in Municipality of Chicago. It not about the citizens/constituents, the policy issues, or ideology - it’s all about them - the political leaders.

    This is really what ails the body politic in Illinois from top-to-bottom. We - Democrats and Republicans and independents - need to change this corrupt and demented political culture somehow when the torch is passed to the next generation of political leaders, whomever they may be.

  3. - Dan Vock - Monday, Jul 30, 07 @ 10:42 am:

    Not to mention that there was already a Harvard Law grad in the Illinois Senate at the time Obama joined: Carl Hawkinson.

  4. - amy - Monday, Jul 30, 07 @ 11:01 am:

    the article is fair and pretty accurate. but the
    point of the article is to begin the look at
    the record of the man who represented Hyde Park.
    and from the looks of the article, there’s more
    to come. from Nan Talese taking on Oprah, to
    Howard Wolfson swatting flies off his shoulder…
    “debating” David Axelrod on Hardball, to any
    look at Obama’s actual record vs. Hillary, New York is in punch out mode. for anyone with
    ideas of a general election with Obama, read
    today’s Trib op ed page with Charles K. Florida
    numbers for Hillary are booming after the
    utube obama oops.

  5. - Drew - Monday, Jul 30, 07 @ 11:17 am:

    Hendon’s writing a book entitled “Backstabbers?” I seem to remember him pulling the trigger on the Forby electric utility double-cross. “Do as I say…”

  6. - South of I-80 - Monday, Jul 30, 07 @ 11:24 am:

    I didn’t know it Hendon was writing an auto-biography.

  7. - cermak_rd - Monday, Jul 30, 07 @ 11:41 am:

    Now that book, I would stand in line at midnight to buy!

  8. - Captain America - Monday, Jul 30, 07 @ 12:35 pm:

    John Kennedy was elected President when he was 43 years old because his father used all his resources, contacts and money to get him elected. As far as I know John Kennedy’s legislative career as a Congressman and Senatot was undistinguished. Kennedy defeated a much better qualified candidate, Richard Nixon. Kennedy had style, brains, great speechwriters, and good oratorical skills. Nixon eventually disgraced the Presidency.

    Our current President never accomplished anything in his entire career that didn’t happen because he was his grandfather’s and his father’s son.

    Barack Obama is a self-made man. He’s achieved his curent position in life strictly on his own merits, ability and character, not because of who his father was. His meteoric ascent to competing for the nation’s highest elective office is remarkable.

    I think Obama’s experience, intellect, character and charisma compares favorably to John Kennedy’s.

    Our current MBA President has turned out to be a complete and utter failure. Barack Obams is better prepared intellectually to be Presdident than Karl Rove’s creation/one of America’s worst President’s is right now. Bush has disgraced America in the eyes of the rest of the world. Our international standing has nver been lower, althogh we still are feared.

    People are looking for inspiration and change after 16 years of polarization, and 8 years of the most ideologically-driven Presdency in history. Every politican in America wishes they had Barack Obama’s intangible appeal to the American public.

    So eat your heart out Vanilla Man. Win or lose, this time around, Obama’s got a tremendous future ahead of him.

    Newt Gingrich is predciting a Clinton-Obama ticket. Newt’s definitely an intelligent guy. He’s seeing something in Obam that yoy don’t. Given your conservatism, you may have some respect for his prediction/opinion.

  9. - Jerry - Monday, Jul 30, 07 @ 12:46 pm:

    Yesiree New Yawk Times! We is just a buncha country bumpkins. We don know nuttin about your high-falootin’ big city life, and we don know nuttin bout profeshnal politickin the way thems big boys do!

    Sorry. I hate those kind of stories that portray “flyover” territory as if its a wilderness filled with savages and morons.

  10. - The Real Captain - Monday, Jul 30, 07 @ 1:38 pm:

    I love how Capt America suddenly respects Newt because he’s saying Clinton/Obama may share a ticket. First of all, fast chance. You think the Clinton’s want to be over shadowed by Obama? No way.

    Get a clue, then post CA.

    Jerry, uh,’re right. I’ll take the NYTs any day over a Illinois paper.

  11. - fedup dem - Monday, Jul 30, 07 @ 1:49 pm:

    Contrary to the comments posted earlier, Joseph Kennedy did not use all of his contacts and resources to get his son John elected President in 1960. JFK explained it best on the campaign trail:

    “I just received a telegram from my father, which says, ‘Don’t spend a dollar more than neccessary. I’ll be damned if I’ll pay extra for a landslide.’”

  12. - Squideshi - Monday, Jul 30, 07 @ 2:03 pm:

    A people’s legislature? How do you figure, Rich?

  13. - Rich Miller - Monday, Jul 30, 07 @ 2:21 pm:

    Citizens, not peoples.

  14. - JonShibleyFan - Monday, Jul 30, 07 @ 3:04 pm:

    Fedup, you know that was a joke Kennedy used, right?

  15. Pingback Fly overs and leap years « Illinois Reason - Monday, Jul 30, 07 @ 4:04 pm:

    […] Rich Miller gives us the short version of a NYT Obama bio piece, saying the Times thinks we Prairie Staters are country bumpkins…  calling then State Sen. Obama’s fellow legislators “housewives, ex-mayors and [the] occasional soybean farmer”. (This New York Times “reporter” missed the sherriffs, teachers and CPAs — where’s Tribuner-turned-Timeser Jeff Zeleny when you need him?) It’s not as if the New York state legislature doesn’t also have its share of housewives, ex-mayor and farmers — let alone the Congress itself. […]

  16. - A Citizen - Monday, Jul 30, 07 @ 5:13 pm:

    At least we have the good sense to elect our idiots and morons to state government and get them out of the general population. They would just be monkey wrenches in the machinery of progress not to mention our economic engine.

  17. - Captain America - Monday, Jul 30, 07 @ 5:28 pm:

    Real Captain,

    Unlike our current President, Newt has a brain/some creative intelligence. He can think on his feet and speak the English language coherently. His ethics,especially in terms of his relationships with women,are reprehensible. But none of our elected officals are saints.

    I give Gingrich credit for the 1994 revolution. Too bad he could not govern effectively when he graduated from being a backbencher.

    Although I have nothing but contempt for Dubya, I do not have similar hostile feelings about all conservatives. In fact, I consider the Cheney-Bush adminstration to be radicals rather than conservatives It’s case-by-case with me. Although i’m sure Dennis kucinich is a decnt man personally, I consider him a political “whack job.”

    I wouldn’t vote for Newt for dog catcher myself, unless he was running against Todd Stroger. I was just trying to point out that not all conservatives think Barack Obama is as worthless as the Van Man and many other conservative commnentators on this blog think.

  18. - Captain America - Monday, Jul 30, 07 @ 5:45 pm:

    Fed-up Dem,

    I do not dispute the accuracy of your quote, but i believe if you were familiar with the complete historical record, you would agree that Joe Kennedy was obsessed with at least three things: making money any way he could; fornicating with beautiful women - “like father-like-son”, I guess; and getting one of his sons elected POTUS.

    Joe Kennedy was a very successful guy. He usually got what he wanted, one way or another.

  19. - Disgusted - Monday, Jul 30, 07 @ 10:14 pm:

    It always amuses me when those whose residence is NYC, Chicago or LA point their collective noses skyward when talk turns to the Heartland. They think they will never get old or wrinkled, will always be thin and wear black (three cities full of mourners), will always pay mega bucks for a taxi ride and a bottle of Pellagrino (which we now can surmise comes from the NYC public water system). We all get 6 ft. folks, when we go, unless you want to be cremated. You can’t take your money, your over-priced apartment and your snooty behavior with you. So lower your noses and take a look at good, honest, hardworking men and women, who are thankful they don’t live where you do, physically or philosophically.

  20. - Loop Lady - Monday, Jul 30, 07 @ 10:23 pm:

    Relax folks–what was written about Obama amounts to an semi endorsement of said candidate by the liberal intelligentsia out east–not a bad thing at all–I have lived on the east coast in two cities and we ARE Midwesterners–The Times is rough on politicians, movies, and theater–Consider the source and consider it a thumbs up–

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