Jodi Kantor's The Obama's and Chicago Politics

Jodi Kantor's The Obama's and Chicago Politics
The Obama's By Jodi Kantor

President Barack Obama already has his media machine discounting revelations contained in “The Obama’s,” a book by New York Times reporter Jodi Kantor. However, that is a pretty much a normal ploy among the power elite whenever a book is about to be published about them. Let’s face it – damage control is standard operating procedure among the powerful and rich, especially one seeking reelection. However, whenever someone publishes something – I think there should be a few things that need to be asked. For example, does this person have any reason to distort the truth? Are they a disgruntled former employee who may have been shoved aside for the sake of political expediency and spinning a tale of sour grapes? And last, but not least – does the writer have a political agenda or bias that is designed to embarrass or weaken the person about whom they are writing about? And the reason for that, of course, should be obvious. There are all sorts of ruthless people out there who would stop at nothing to derail someone’s political ambitions or careers. However, everything I have read about Jodi Kantor and her book – it doesn’t appear that there is anything sinister behind The Obama’s.

Never the less, Jodi Kantor has apparently hit a raw nerve to get the denial mechanism out in full gear. The way I see it, though, is that their denials are probably centered around not wanting to embarrass the people who have worked behind the scenes to get President Obama elected. Still, I would almost bet that there is probably far more truth than fiction contained in Kantor’s book given the few snippets that have been reported on thus far.

I mean, is it really that far out of the realm to believe that Rahm Emanuel was often viewed as a divisive force while serving as White House Chief of Staff? I mean really now! Or could it really be out of the realm when First Lady Michelle Obama allegedly lamented on how a small group of white, Irish-Catholics could wield such absolute power and dominion over Chicago politics?


Jodi Kantor should be given the benefit of the doubt, at least for now.

If there is one thing that I have learned from my own five decades of Chicago political observation is that we should have, at least at one time or another, all lamented on how such a small bunch of opportunistic Irish-Catholic families could exact such a political stranglehold over our lives. And if we are all really honest with each other, well, we already know that when it comes to a regular ole Joe getting any sort of a break or satisfaction from beating the status quo that it is damn near impossible to do so. But I can also tell you that when I was younger – when it came to African-Americans getting a fair shake, well, let’s just say it was doubly as hard for them to get any satisfaction.

As for the alleged comments that First Lady Michelle Obama made about about Chicago and the Political White Irish-Catholics (The Select Few), well, I am sure that I can say this with some confidence: “I am absolutely sure that Michelle Obama’s political views of the Select Few were shaped long before she was ever lucky enough to be employed by the very same and/or her husband’s meteoric rise to political power.”

And equally as sure and confident, I also believe that whether you are an African-American, Hispanic or White Average Joe or Josephine – you too have been fortunate (and I really mean unfortunate) to have had your political opinions shaped by the overt actions of the same bunch of political families who have held sway over us for so long. Especially those of you who have been around here from the 1960’s until now. The truth of the matter is that it has been basically the same political Irish families who have dictated to us what, and then eventually who, we must accept as our leadership. Now, if that is what some people are willing to believe or accept as somehow living in a Free Democracy – then all I can say is God help us all. Between you and I, it has always confused me how the people here have so non-nonchalantly turned a blind eye, not only to the damage that has been done by these Select Few, but by the other politicians who have prostituted and aligned themselves with the Machine to get a little piece of their own familial political prestige.

Yet that is exactly what has happened alongside the years of nepotism found among the Burkes, the Cullerton’s, the Daley’s and of course the Madigan’s. Their grip on political power in Chicago has been legendary to say the least. Naturally though, the Select Few had to cede some of their absolute control and allow in the African-American and Hispanic politicians who were able to garner public support. That, of course, resulted in another group bent on using nepotism to build their own political families. As such,  we have since seen the rise of the Carotherses, the Jackson’s, Stroger’s, the Berrioses, Solises and so on. Of course there have been many other families of note to crack the top tier as well, but let us not forget that they still had to accept what the Select Few demanded of them and to protect their almighty fiefdom.

We shouldn’t kid ourselves when it comes to our politics. Chicago (and the State) will always be controlled by the so-called Select Few Michelle Obama allegedly lamented about. But hey, we need take things with a grain of salt too. Michelle and Barack Obama are not the same people since being embraced by the power elite who helped them ascend to the highest office in the land. Perhaps that is why the Obama’s don’t want people take serious what Jodi Kantor may have to say in her book. I mean, wouldn’t it seem a bit ungrateful to diss the very people who helped in their success? Just a thought, you know?

Still, if Michelle Obama’s thoughts are true, wouldn’t it be a shame if they were to go for naught? I mean, maybe the time has come  for all of us to question why we still have what we have politically. So maybe the time has come for the people to finally wake up around here and acknowledge that what they have had all along hasn’t been in their best interests. The hard fact is that we will never have control over our own destiny until we purge our politics of the Status Quo!

As for Rahm Emanuel. Anyone who thinks that the new mayor has somehow broken the political culture around here with his election will need to take a deep breathe and rethink what they got. After all, didn’t Rahm Emanuel learn the art of Chicago Politics from the very people who still hold considerable sway today? I don’t think for a moment that the same old political maneuverings, consolidations and sharing of taxpayer money won’t continue under Rahm Emanuel. I will say this though, I hope that he doesn’t get too big for his political britches, because if he does – he too will learn what sort of power the elites really do have as they undercut him and future ambitions.

You see, I happen to believe that Rahm Emanuel gets far too much credit when it comes to who is in charge around here. Yes, he is very powerful, but he isn’t more powerful than those who have had a lock on the political game for so long. Remember when the new mayor backed down from carrying out his threats to Ed Burke early on? Now, why do you suppose he capitulated? That should have told people all they needed to know as to where the real power lies in the grand scheme of things.

Maybe there will be a time when Rahm Emanuel could challenge that power. But that would take an overwhelming rejection of the way things are done around here. And I seriously doubt that the gains made by other political families will be put into jeopardy for one man. Besides, do you really trust Rahm Emanuel? He has already shown us a few disturbing things and I believe that if you value your personal rights and liberties that you stay alert.

The thing about Chicago Politics is that the more things change – the more they stay the same. Oh well, I think the time has come to put on the headphones and listen to the Grateful Dead’s Truckin’. Somehow, Robert Hunter, the song’s lyricist, must have known that I would someday be reflecting back upon all these years of that funny thing called Machine Politics. And I have to admit that . . . . . . .

“…..Lately it occurs to me: What a long, strange trip it’s been .”


Follow maciric on Twitter


Leave a comment
  • You forgot the other one, to get an advance and collect big royalties. However, with "revelations" like these, I don't think he'll get the latter.

  • In reply to jack:

    Of course leave it to me to omit the the most obvious reason people write. I suppose your last point is correct given that many on the East Coast are more than familiar with a few Irish-Catholics running the show; i.e. Tammany Hall. So far as Kantor's book doing well or not - I think it is too early to tell - but there seems to be a market. No matter how we feel about the Obama's, there are still those who appear interested in how they dealt with their rise to power and the goings-on behind the scenes. I, of course, am not the biggest fan of Michelle Obama, but her alleged comments, none the less, are a tell.

Leave a comment