Will Obama's Chicago past come back to haunt him? That's the question posed by John Fund, in the WSJ Political Diary.
Mr. Obama was on shakier ground when he insisted that none of the burgeoning scandals in Illinois politics have anything to do with him. In recent days, top Obama fundraiser Tony Rezko was convicted on influence peddling charges and Democratic Governor Rod Blagojevich is facing possible impeachment hearings in the Illinois legislature over Rezko-related scandals.
"You will recall that for my entire political career here, I was not the endorsed candidate of any political organization here," Mr. Obama told Chicago reporters. "My reputation in Springfield [as a state legislator] was as an independent. There is no doubt I had friends and continue to have friends who come out of the more traditional school of Chicago politics but that's not what launched my political career and that's not what I've ever depended on to get elected, and I would challenge any Chicago reporter to dispute that basic fact."
Throwing down a challenge to reporters might prove uncomfortable for Mr. Obama. Good government groups in Chicago have long deplored his seeming indifference to the corruption in the Daley machine that has dominated the city since 1955. Indeed, Mr. Obama's chief strategist David Axelrod is also current Mayor Richard J. Daley's top political adviser. And while Mr. Obama was not originally elected with the help of the machine, once in the legislature he became a close ally of state Senate President Emil Jones, a cog in the Daley machine who has been the chief obstacle to passing ethics reform through the state legislature.
"Obama may pretend he is Obambi when it comes to corruption," says Chicago Tribune columnist John Kass. "But the fact is that you can't come from Chicago without having your involvement with its politics scrutinized." At Mr. Obama's invitation, here's hoping enterprising reporters start digging.
This is also why NY candidates fare so poorly in presidential races. They all have skeletons in the closet, because our state is so corrupt. I don't think Obama is any different, coming from Chicago.