Thursday, August 14, 2008

Personal Asides: One Social Agency Sees as Route to Restored State Funding—Hiring Patti Blagojevich…The Implications of Colin Powell’s Likely Endorsement of Barack Obama…Implications of Michelle Obama Addressing the Dem Convention on its 1st Day.


Route to Restored State Funding?

The Chicago Christian Industrial League may have detected what might be…or might not…be a route to restoration of ample state funding for its social services defined on its website as “providing comprehensive programs and services and a sense of purpose in the lives of homeless men and women and families of Chicago.”

According to reputable information, it has hired Patti Blagojevich, the wife of Gov. Blagojevich, as its major fund-raiser. This is what’s known as going to the heart of the problem to get a solution.

As is widely known, state government under Gov. Rod Blagojevich has sent letters to at least 150 agencies cutting program funds in order to balance the budget--and CCIL reported Monday that “approximately 16 CCIL residents participating in the [Residential Recovery Program] found themselves homeless.”

CCIL, one of the largest nonprofit organizations in the state, is located at 2750 West Roosevelt Road (Roosevelt & California). If this works out, Ms. Blagojevich might become a very busy fund-raiser in the future.

Colin Powell for Obama?

Matt Drudge is very often right on the money, so when he announced yesterday that very possibly a deal is in the works for Colin Powell to endorse Barack Obama for president, many eyebrows were lifted. On the plus side, Gen. Powell who was secretary of state under George W. Bush and national security director for Ronald Reagan, brings credibility of military and diplomatic professionalism to the Obama campaign. After all, he was chairman of the joint chiefs and is regarded as a military-diplomatic expert. He turned down successive importuning from Republicans in the past to run either for president or for vice president. While Powell seems to be definitely out of the political business as a candidate, as a speaker on the stump he could be formidable for Obama. His signal asset would be to convince moderate Republicans that Obama is not an untested, green candidate in foreign or military policies, a view which has dogged the Democrats from the outset.

But there are disadvantages. The track record of success for leaders of one party’s administration bringing an avalanche of voters to the side of another party…opposite to the one served by the endorser…is almost nonexistent. With Powell being African American, the speculation will be inevitable that his support stems largely from a chauvinistic rooting for a fellow African American candidate to be president—not a very inspiring trait when so many more important aspects are involved in the national decision. That’s the first disadvantage. Putting race aside, when was the last time a prominent figure of one party who was involved heavily in that party’s governing endorsed a candidate of another who has criticized the opposite party’s record? The most recent was John Connally, of course: former Democratic governor of Texas, close ally of Lyndon Johnson, John F. Kennedy’s secretary of the navy who became chairman of “Democrats for Nixon” in 1972 and later became Richard Nixon’s secretary of the treasury and declared himself a Republican.

The fact that Connally got indicted in 1973 for allegedly pocketing $10,000 from lobbyist Jake Jacobson for supposedly influencing dairy supports on milk which tarnished his name even though he was acquitted after character witnesses Lady Bird Johnson, Jackie Kennedy, Dean Rusk and Barbara Jordan insisted he was blameless. He ran for the Republican presidential nomination in 1980, raised a formidable amount of money but got one delegate.

Okay, you say: Connally is a bad example because he was caught up in the milk scandal albeit was found to be innocent. After Connally who was the most prominent defector? It would have to be Alfred E. Smith, former governor of New York, Democratic nominee for president in 1928, the man who launched FDR’s campaign for governor that same year and who lost his bid for re-nomination to Roosevelt in 1932. Smith gnawed his fist in frustration and was quoted as opposing the New Deal—but it was only when we came to the Democratic convention of 1936 when FDR was re-nominated by acclamation that his dissatisfaction became publicly apparent. He announced he was prepared to “take a walk” on election day which meant either voting Republican or sitting on his hands. He later announced his support for the Republican nominee, Gov. Alfred M. Landon of Kansas. Landon suffered the worst defeat in history up to that time. Smith was regarded as a sore loser who never forgave his onetime protégé for topping him.

Smith became chairman of the American Liberty League, the topmost grassroots movement to oppose the New Deal’s economic plans. He supported Wendell Willkie in 1940 (Willkie lost and Smith actively opposed FDR’s plans to move us into World War II).

Another case of dissatisfaction with the Democratic party…though not party switching…was James A. Farley, the former Democratic national chairman (who in 1933 held three titles at once: postmaster general of the U.S., DNC chairman and New York state Dem chairman) who split with Roosevelt on the third term whom I interviewed at great length. Farley was perhaps the greatest natural political organizer I ever knew, building a coalition of urban dwellers, Catholics, farmers and labor unions while holding southern conservatives in the mix that elected Roosevelt president But the analogy is imperfect since Farley never left the Democratic party. Yet as a foe of FDR he ran unsuccessfully for governor of New York and twice for senator. Unfortunately as Farley himself told me, his rebuke of Roosevelt was taken by the media to be one of vitriol and spite—the media believing he himself wanted the presidency and begrudged Roosevelt winning successive terms largely on strategies that Farley had originated.

Switches to opposite party never really clicked. Strom Thurmond left the Democratic party, became a Dixiecrat, ran against Harry Truman for president in hopes of dislodging him in 1948—but it failed and Thurmond became a Republican. He was a powerful regional politician as a Republican but not a national leader. Henry A. Wallace left the Democratic party to run as a progressive in 1948 but made little impact. Eugene McCarthy ran for the presidency in 1968 as a Democrat but became so estranged and inconsequential that by his death no one—including Gene—knew if he was still a Democrat or not.

My guess is that if and when Colin Powell decided to endorse Obama, the media will make a great thing of it because the national media passionately want Obama to win—but that in the matter of delivering votes, will largely come to nil. Obama’s problem is that the election is poised to decide on one person—Obama. The number of endorsees of either Obama or McCain will mean very little.

Michelle’s Addressing the Convention.

The fact that Michelle Obama will address the Democratic convention on its first day’s session is a startling one…which has never been done before. No prospective First Lady ever did so nor did any actual First Lady…even Eleanor Roosevelt…do so. The decision was obviously made by David Axelrod whose rationale as a brilliant strategist has never involved issues but personalities. Axelrod believes he can mould a personality into becoming a winning commodity for his party.

With Michelle Obama it will take formidable image-making cosmetology indeed. She has done almost irreparable harm to herself by allowing her words to make her a symbol of black grievance and anti-whitey figure…when she has been a remarkably coddled black woman at that. Imagine someone who got to Princeton not through academic excellence but through other means who lamented that she felt alone and discriminated against there. Her thesis which is available smacks of hot grievance. Or someone who graduates from the Harvard Law school who continues the grievance until when her husband was winning primaries…while she was in her 40s…announced that for the first time she was felt proud to be an American. Who earned $300,000 from the University of Chicago based on her connection with Valerie Jarrett and who still has the temerity to tell young black women that she should forego the possibility of earning big bucks for community service where they would earn far less—something she didn’t do. In essence, Michelle Obama can’t forgive whitey for creating a social environment which through affirmative action…something I know about having utilized it in the federal government…to give her privileges she inwardly believes she doesn’t deserve—which underlines her anger.

David Axelrod has imposed on her a tremendous job. It will be an exercise in imagery to remake the image. She must be witty, warm, self-deprecating, humble and a phrasemaker. Meek and humble of heart.

Lots of luck, David.

1 comment:

  1. elizabeth alexanderAugust 14, 2008 at 6:41 AM

    Mr. Roeser, when you accept criticism of your point of view, quit blocking critics, and stop deleting those entries, then perhaps you will again be relevant, if you ever were.