Saturday, June 07, 2008

Global Labor: Who "sent" Obama?

Global Labor and the Global Economy blog knows Chicago the first question in Chicago poltics,
In Chicago politics a key question has always been, who "sent" you? The classic phrase is "We don't want nobody that nobody sent" - from an anecdote of Abner Mikva's, the former White House Counsel (Pres. Clinton) and now retired federal judge. (And someone I campaigned for while in high school when he ran, unsuccessfully, for Congress in the early 70s.) As a young student, Mikva wanted to help out the his local Democratic Party machine on the south side of Chicago. In 1948, he walked into the local committeman's office to volunteer for Adlai Stevenson and Paul Douglas 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."
And it turns out it was Ayers whole family, not just Bill. (Give's new meaning to playing the Excelon Card) considering Dad Ayer's connections with ComEd.

More from GL GE,
One guess as to why Obama does not play up his educational experience more thoroughly now – it certainly could be of use to him one would think in beefing up his “I have the experience to be President” argument – is that it would lead to a renewed discussion of the Ayers connection, which is clearly toxic for Obama. This likely explains why Obama tried a kind of head fake when asked about Ayers by George Stephanopoulos in the TV debate with Clinton prior to the Pennsylvania primary. Obama said Ayers was a "professor of english." Yet, Obama chaired the Annenberg Challenge for three years and served on its board for another three years, working closely with Ayers on grants to Chicago schools. And he did not know that Ayers was a professor of education? That strains credulity.

Perhaps this would be of just historical interest if it could be firmly established that Bill Ayers no longer has any role in the Obama campaign. But that is not something we know for sure yet. In a recent television interview with Greta Van Susteren (granted, it was on Fox), John Murtagh, a Republican town council member from Yonkers, New York, said that Ayers is currently an "advisor" to Obama. Murtagh has a particular and understandable sensitivity to the Ayers-Obama connection besides his Republican politics: his father was a New York Supreme Court (in NY the Supreme Court is a trial court) judge who presided over a trial of the "Black Panther 21" in 1970-71.

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