Chosen One:The Truth Behind State Senator Obama's Rise [UPDATE]
by dem dem, Thu Feb 28, 2008 at 04:25:28 AM EST
Little is known outside of Ilinois about Obama's sudden rise from state legislator to US Senator.
Much of this history is finally explained in a article that comes out today in a Houston Press article written by the reporter who covered him for the local Hyde Park, Chicago community newspaper.
Illinois Senate President Emil Jones Jr. was Obama's kingmaker. "I'm gonna make me a U.S. Senator.'"
Cover Story: Barack Obama and Me
Thu Feb 28, 2008
I used to talk to Barack Obama on a regular basis back when he was a rank-and-file state legislator in Illinois and I worked for a pair of community newspapers there. I lived two blocks away from him and worked in the same building that housed his favorite barbershop.
Obama's rise from political unknown to political icon has been astounding. In 2004, when Obama was running for U.S. Senate, I followed him on a tour of small churches on the Chicago South Side. The pews were empty, and his speeches received lukewarm applause, at best.
Last Tuesday, 19,000 people packed Houston's Toyota Center for Obama. Many waited outside for ten hours to hear him speak for 40 minutes. You should have heard the roar when he finally hit the stage.
Obama may well make an excellent president. But he was a largely ineffective lawmaker during most of his career in the Illinois General Assembly.
It isn't well known that Obama built his entire legislative record in Illinois in a single year. Or that he spent most of his tenure evading leadership on key community issues in and around his district. Or that he first skated into elective office uncontested by using aggressive legal tactics to knock all other candidates off the ballot.
Wearing his ambitions on his sleeve, Obama has run for a more powerful political position every three years since being elected in 1996 to the Illinois legislature.
Four years ago, while writing for the Illinois Times in the capital city of Springfield - where Obama later announced his presidential bid - I broke a story about how black Chicago lawmakers who had worked with Obama resented him and supported other candidates in the U.S. Senate election that catapulted him to the national stage. (I really suggest you read this. Its still available here: http://www.illinoistimes.com/gyrobase/Co ntent?oid=oid%3A3015)
The morning after the story ran, Obama called me up and screamed at me. Today it's tough to imagine Obama losing his cool - especially at some young reporter working for some obscure newspaper. But, then, things change.
- Todd Spivak
FOR THOSE TOO BUSY TO READ THE ACTUAL PIECE, FROM WONKETTE:
About 70% of this million-word feature centers on the writers start in the journalism business, so lets summarize the parts anyone will give a shit about:
* Baracks entire record of state legislation that he touts now was done in his first year as a state senator, so that he could have some record when he wanted to run for higher office, immediately. But he lost a Congressional run in 2000 because he was like four years old.
* Then, in 2002, black Democrats took over the state legislature and were led by the powerful Majority Leader Emil Jones Jr. (a gravel-voiced, dark-skinned African-American known for chain-smoking cigarettes on the Senate floor). Since Jones was powerful and black, Barack and this has been reported before asked Jones to make him a U.S. Senator. Im gonna make me a U.S. Senator, Jones said to a friend.
* Jones appointed Obama sponsor of virtually every high-profile piece of legislation, angering many rank-and-file state legislators who had more seniority than Obama and had spent years championing the bills. And then Jones further helped raise Obamas profile by having him craft legislation addressing the day-to-day tragedies that dominated local news headlines. What didnt Jones do? Is Barack Obama just a hologram of this Jones?
* Then Obama ignored black community issues in his district, to avoid being the black candidate. Obamas aloofness on key community issues for years frustrated Lucas and many other South Siders. Now they believe he was just afraid of making political enemies or being pigeonholed as a black candidate.
* Barack only won his Senate seat in 1996 by finding petty flaws in the other candidates petitions HE PULLED A HARVARD ON THE COMMON FOLKS.
* In 2004, the articles author profiled Barack Obama and included many complaints from other black politicians in the state legislature, about Baracks cheating record.
* Then, the climax: Obama YELLED AT THIS REPORTER ON THE PHONE, ANGRILY. Because of this, we have an article today that Wonkette can nicely summarize in bullet points.