In Chicago politics, there's an old term for the publicly subsidized pay-offs and positions meted out to the corruptocrats' friends and special interests: boodle.
In the age of Obama, Hope and Change is all about the boodle. So it was with the stimulus. And the massive national service expansion. And the health care bill. And the financial reform bill. And the blossoming job-trading scandals engulfing the White House.
There's always been an ageless, interdependent relationship between Windy City politicos and "goo-goos" (the cynical Chicago term for good government reformers). Chicago-style "reform" has always entailed the redistribution of wealth and power under the guise of public service. And it has inevitably led to more corruption.
In March 2010, this column first took note of allegations by Democrats Joe Sestak and Andrew Romanoff that the White House had offered them jobs in exchange for dropping their respective bids against Obama-favored incumbent Sens. Arlen Specter in Pennsylvania and Michael Bennet in Colorado. White House legal counsel Bob "The Fixer" Bauer's attempt to bury questions about the Sestak affair with a Memorial Day weekend document dump failed. So has the attempt to make Rahm Emanuel-enlisted former president Bill Clinton the sole scapegoat.
Bauer's memo mentions "efforts" (plural, not singular) to woo Sestak. But the White House refuses to divulge what offers besides Clinton's were extended to Sestak. Moreover, White House spokesman Robert Gibbs has now denied that Team Obama was involved in the one Clinton offer that has been publicized -- an unpaid appointment on an intelligence board for which Sestak was ineligible.
After months of silence, Romanoff finally stepped forward this week to acknowledge that the White House had dangled several positions before him, too. He released e-mails detailing not one, not two, but three different paid positions offered by White House Deputy Chief of Staff Jim Messina -- whose boss, Emanuel, was subpoenaed this week by impeached former Democratic Gov. Rod Blagojevich of Illinois to testify in his Senate pay-for-play corruption trial.
So, can I say "I told you so" now?
In July 2009, when "Culture of Corruption" was first released, liberal critics scoffed:
How could you possibly write a 400-page book about Barack Obama's rotten administration when he's only been in office six months?!
When I proceeded to rattle off case after case of Chicago-style back-scratching, transparency-trampling and crooked special interest-dealing in the new White House, liberal critics such as "The View's" Joy Behar interjected:
B-b-b-but what about Bush? Why don't you write a book about Bush? Wha-'bout-Bush? Wha-'bout-Bush? Wha-'bout-Bush?
When I pointed out that I had reported extensively on cronyism in the Bush era (see Harriet Miers, FEMA and the Department of Homeland Security), and when I further pointed out that while the Bush-bashing market overflowed, there remained a massive vacuum of critical analysis of Obama, liberal critics sputtered:
So what? Doesn't every administration have corruption?
When I patiently explained that no other administration in modern American history had set itself up as loftily as the Hope and Change reformers had done, or when I cited endless examples of Obama's broken promises on everything from lobbyists to transparency to Washington business as usual, liberal critics changed the subject again:
RACIST FASCIST EVIL FOX NEWS RIGHT-WING HATE MONGER!
Two major job-trading scandals plus the start of the Blago trial this past week -- on top of a year's worth of uninhibited White House wheeling and dealing, broken transparency pledges, Justice Department stonewalling and brass knuckle-bullying of political opponents -- have finally turned the once-derided thesis of my book "Culture of Corruption" into conventional wisdom.
Obama sold America a Chicago-tainted bill of goods. A nation of slow learners is finally figuring it out.
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