Saturday, April 15, 2006
Media Soft on Obama, the Dem Senates Ethics Guru, for State Treasurer Choice
Mainstream media cant get enough of Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) who has been mentioned for everything from the Democratic presidential nomination in 2008 to likely winner of the Pulitzer prize for his autobiography Dreams of My Father to a Nobel prize for literature for the very next book he writes which nobody has seen yet. His keynote address to the national convention last year won raves from the media. Ive heard some great keynotes. The Dem keynote address that topped all others was Sen. Bob Kerrs review of Republican presidents delivered in 1948: This nation hardened with Harding, cooled with Coolidge and hungered with Hoover! I dont like the politics but that was a keynote, folks. I remember one of the best keynotes ever delivered to a Republican convention: by then Gov. Earl Warren of California, believe it or not. FDR was running for his fourth term in mid-WWII with the slogan lifted from Lincoln: Dont change horses in the middle of the stream,the same slogan he used in 1936 and 1940. Warren shouted: Mr. President, we are not amphibious!
Then there was the Republican keynote of 1960 delivered by my then boss, Rep. Walter H. Judd (R-MN) which, of course, I maintain was the greatest keynote of all time of either partybut youre not surprised, are you?
I tried to remember the Obama keynote. Could not. So I downloaded the full text. I still cant remember it. It was thrillingly, brilliantly, incontrovertibly average. Theres no doubt that Obama is charismatic (Ive alluded to it before) but I am stunned at the attention hes gotten from page one features by both Chicago newspapers about his average day to what he is reading, his views on meeting the challenge of bird flu to well, you name it. Then Harry Reid, the Democratic minority leader, named him the Dems spokesman on ethics. Saturated with Obama stories as they are, the media still cant quench their thirst. Until now, it seems.
Obama, the ethics go-to-guy, endorsed one Alexi Giannoulias of Chicago in the last primary for state treasurer. He did TV commercials for him. Giannoulias, who comes from a mult-million dollar banking family is only 30, has had precious little experience in banking, but was Obamas choice. We hope the Senator endorsed Giannoulias because of some rare quality he saw in the young man. But its as hard to spot as literary substance is in the last Dem keynote.
But voila! it turns out the Tribune has detected a rare quality in the young Greek lad whose family has been very generous in contributing to Democratic candidates. Now, after he has the Democratic nomination, Giannoulias has not been forthcoming about his ties to one Michael Giorango who has been convicted of bookmaking and profiting from prostitution. Giorango got a number of loans from Broadway Bank, the family-owned institution where the young prodigy Giannoulias works as vice president. Earlier when asked about the connection in March, before the primary, Giannoulias said the loans were made between 2002 and 2004 while he was in law school and not working at the bank full-time. That seemed to settle things down until the primary.
But now, pesky questions arise again. The newspaper found public records that show Broadway Bank earned nearly $12 million in additional mortgage loans to Giorango this last year when Giannoulias was supervising the banks loans. Giannoulias blames his brother, Demetris, the banks chief financial officer for the loans. Earlier Giannoulias denied his bank helped finance casinos. Now its clear that recent loans were applied to a mortgage thaxt Giorango and another convicted felon used to acquire a casino boat marina in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. When asked if it is o.k. for a state treasurer to lend money to crime personnel, Giannoulias said the treasurer should merely work to get the best rate of return for taxpayers to create jobs.
Sen. Obama has said that, Im going to take a look at whats been going on and Im going to ask Alexi directly whats happening. Thats all. The media continue to ask questions of Giannoulias, and well they should. Somehow theyre forgetting to ask Barack Obama what he saw in this young lad that led him to tape commercials that probably got him nominated. What did Obama see in himhis experience? His high ethical standards? I dont see Lynn Sweet of the Sun-Times write about thisbut then she wouldnt. As the ace political reporter for the citys Democratic paper of record, she has wisely chosen not to, following the George Tagge model of the Tribune years ago. But nobody seems to be asking Obama these questions: not Carol Marin who is outraged regularly at corruption, not anybody.
So I decided to ask. Your comments welcomed.