Obama, Reid, Burris and the Chicago Way

ChiTribune colmnist John Kass serves up stinging criticisms of how Obama handled the Roland Burris drama. What, you, ask? You didn’t know Obama got involved in it and pushed Reid into accepting Burris? Indeed, he did:

So the Chicago Way hauled off and slapped the U.S. Senate in the face—one of those backhands with the knuckles to unsuspecting lips—and guess who blinked?

It wasn’t Chicago.

It was the Senate.

Get used to it, America. And it won’t be the last time either.

Roland “Tombstone” Burris, the amiable Illinois Democratic political hack who is being called eminently qualified by the national Democrats—perhaps because he’s from Illinois and he hasn’t been indicted—has almost reached his goal of being addressed as “Yes, sir, Senator.”

Now Tombstone has President-elect Barack Obama behind him, muscling Democratic Majority Leader Harry Reid in a phone call earlier in the week. So much for transcending the old politics.

Only a week ago, Obama, Reid and other Democratic leaders were adamant that they’d block any Senate appointment made by tainted Illinois Gov. Rod “Dead Meat” Blagojevich, who has been charged with trying to sell Obama’s seat to the highest bidder.

Their statements back then were stern and inflexible, invoking the honor of the Senate and how they’d never let an allegedly corrupt governor put his greasy paws on their august dignity. Those statements weren’t bland. They were so tough they had hair on them. More hair than Blagojevich, even.

But today’s news is that Obama, often treated by the national media as the gentle Mr. Tumnus of American politics, got privately hardball with Reid over the Tombstone issue.

According a story in the Tribune by Rick Pearson and Mike Dorning, Obama didn’t want the Chicago Way on parade in Washington, less than two weeks before his inauguration, when he formally becomes the agent of the change we can believe in.

Obama is perfectly within his rights to try to wriggle out of an embarrassing political situation, and what could be more embarrassing for him than to have Illinois political corruption constantly on the news in Washington?

People might start asking questions, wondering how Obama could come out of a city run by the wrought-iron fists of the Daley machine but smell like the neck of a baby after a bath.

I’m still wondering.

I’m not.

This story sort of reminds me of the report done a year and a half ago on how the city of Denver wanted to “clean up the streets” before the Dem convention by “hiding the homeless.” They even went so far as to pay for haircuts for some of them. In the end, the homeless weren’t seen on national TV screens across the country, but that didn’t mean they weren’t lurking around the corner.

The same, of course, can be said for the Chicago Way.

Here’s the Tribune piece Kass mentioned in his op/ed.

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