University of Santa Clara Law School professor Steve Diamond asks, "who sent Barack Obama". He explains the context of the word "sent".
In Chicago politics a key question has always been, who "sent" you? The classic phrase is ... from an anecdote of Abner Mikva's, the former White House Counsel (Pres. Clinton) ... As a young student ... he walked into the local committeman's office ... and was immediately asked: "Who sent you?" Mikva replied, "nobody sent me." And the retort came back from the cigar chomping pol: "Well, we don't want nobody that nobody sent."
So it is reasonable to ask, who "sent" Barack Obama? In other words, how can his meteoric rise to political prominence be explained?
Diamond's answer is speculative, but informative because it provides a look back into the youthful life and times of the man who might be the next President of the United States.
The most recent effort was by Jonathan Kaufman in the Wall Street Journal who argued that a critical connection for Obama was his links to some in the wealthy and prominent Jewish community in Chicago. This article contains some important insights and is well worth reading. But, I think Kaufman gets it wrong.
So, who did “send” Obama? The key I think is his ties not to well connected uber lawyer Newton Minow, as Kaufman suggests, but more likely to the family of (in)famous former Weather Underground leader Bill Ayers – not just Bill Ayers, but also Bill’s father Tom Ayers and his brother John as well. Obama was a community organizer from about 1985 to 1988, when he left Chicago for Harvard Law School.
He has much, much more at the link above. I am not persuaded that this was the prime Obama connection, though it convincingly demonstrates that Bill Ayers was not just a peripheral player in the Obama saga, but probably a very pivotal one. And if the Ayers connection was the start, over time there were others. Evelyn Pringle notes that in the Byzantine labyrinth of Chicago connections Obama's relations with Daley and Blagojevich were almost institutional. "Barack Obama has a long history of working with Chicago Mayor Richard Daley and governors of Illinois, including the current Governor Rod Blagojevich, in doling government funding for housing development in Chicago. His history is hardly a model of success, except for the hundred of millions in profits made by the chosen few slumlords."
It is the prospect of learning about who sent whom that has journalists flocking to the Rezko trial looking for scoops. Douglas Ball of Toronto Life recently ran into the well known journalist James Bone in the first quarter of 2008. Bone was convinced he was onto something big.
I ran into James Bone outside Amy St. Eve’s overflow courtroom, who filled my head with his assessment that Rezko is some sort of international (Middle East) bagman who is a much more significant figure than Chicago or other media realize. And here I thought Rezko’s significance pretty much had to do with raising money for Obama, having dinner with Obama, and helping (a bit) when Obama bought his house.
Ball detected a political connection of a different sort. "James Bone, you might remember, is the famously dogged and ferocious reporter for the Murdoch-owned London Times assigned to the Conrad Black trial. Murdoch is a supporter of Hillary Clinton. Is it merely a coincidence that one of his reporters is now digging up dirt on an Obama pal caught up in corruption charges?" So the question in this case was also, who "sent" Bone. It is depressing to realize how vulnerable ordinary citizens are to the machinations of political cabals. Perhaps the only thing that representative Democracy has to recommend it is that it sets up a system of competition between rival groups of politicans. In that way rivals are always "sending" people against each other and with any luck, tie each other up enough for ordinary life to go on.
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