Barack Obama may be lacking in judgment and experience – most recently demonstrated by the selection of former Fannie Mae CEO Jim Johnson to vet his veeps (along with Eric Holder, who signed off on Bill Clinton’s pardon of Marc Rich). But he’s a quick study, and he knows there’s a lot he doesn’t know. Because revealing the gaps in his understanding could be devastating to Obama's presidential hopes, understandably he's doing everything he can to conceal them. That involves not only stiff-arming the same Democrat and media establishment that has rushed to embrace him. It also undermines the reformist overtones of his slogan of “change you can believe in.”
Just this week, Obama announced plans to move key elements of the Democratic National Committee operation to his own home turf of Chicago, where presumably he’ll have more mastery over it. The decision is revealing. As Politico put it, “Then and now, [Chicago is] a city whose central political feature – top-down machine control – is one legacy Obama has taken from his allies in the reigning Daley family.”
In relocating key elements of the committee from D.C. to his own home turf, the Democrat nominee has reshaped the DNC to fit his own emerging “machine.” He’s also made it clear that its independent functions are secondary to what he apparently sees as its primary mission: To serve him.
The move offers Obama other advantages. He may be a novice to the world of Washington, but he understands Chicago politics. What’s more, he plays them well – as demonstrated by his use of legal technicalities to disqualify three of his challengers in his first political race, thereby ensuring that he ran unopposed. But Chicago hardball tactics are more easily employed by a candidate promising an uplifting vision of “change” when he’s away from the hub of the national press establishment.
And when it comes to the national press, Obama has already made it clear that he intends to keep his distance. In contrast with John McCain – a man who clearly relishes give-and-take with the media – Obama has been considerably less forthcoming. Back in February, another Politico piece headlined “Barack Obama stiffs, stifles national press,” noted that “as [Obama] moves closer to clinching the Democratic nomination he is establishing himself as the candidate who keeps the most distance from the national media.” Handling the first press tempest of his candidacy, a push for information about his ties to convicted political fundraiser Tony Rezko, Obama memorably walked out after taking only eight questions.