Obama played hardball in Chicago … so?

posted at 3:00 pm on May 29, 2008 by Ed Morrissey

I’ve gotten this on numerous e-mails this afternoon, but honestly, I don’t see the issue. Barack Obama played hardball in Chicago politics by challenging names on petitions that were printed instead of signed, which allowed him to disqualify opponents. And?

In his first race for office, seeking a state senate seat on Chicago’s gritty South Side in 1996, Obama effectively used election rules to eliminate his Democratic competition.

As a community organizer, he had helped register thousands of new voters. But when it came time to run for office, he employed Chicago rules to invalidate the voting petition signatures of three of his challengers.

The move denied each of them, including incumbent Alice Palmer, a longtime Chicago activist, a place on the ballot. It cleared the way for Obama to run unopposed on the Democratic ticket in a heavily Democrat district.

“That was Chicago politics,” said John Kass, a veteran Chicago Tribune columnist. “Knock out your opposition, challenge their petitions, destroy your enemy, right?” Kass said. “It is how Barack Obama destroyed his enemies back in 1996 that conflicts with his message today. He may have gotten his start registering thousands of voters. But in that first race he made sure voters had just one choice.”

Obama’s challenge was perfectly legal, said Jay Stewart, with the Chicago’s Better Government Association. While records of the challenges are no longer on file for review with the election board, Stewart said Obama is not the only politician to resort to petition challenges to eliminate the competition.

Well, I hate to break it to people, but the rules required signatures, not printed names. Obama’s challenge focused on those names printed onto the petitions, as well as the proper registration of the petition handlers. These rules exist for good reason, too. If printed names were acceptable and the collectors don’t properly identify themselves, then all a political campaign needs to do is to copy names out of a phonebook and make sure that the work couldn’t be traced by using a false identity for the collector.

Conservatives have rightly demanded proper identification for voters in order to avoid fraud. Certainly, these rules prevent voter fraud as well and should be enforced. We can fault Obama for not being consistent about the issue, but it’s somewhat hypocritical to fault Obama for demanding that the existing rules get enforced.

It says something about the political culture in Chicago that the other candidates see enforcing the rules as out of bounds,

At any rate, Obama operated within the rules to eliminate his opposition, who clearly didn’t follow those rules themselves. I’ve got lots of complaints about Barack Obama as a presidential candidate, but enforcing voter-fraud provisions isn’t one of them.


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Perhaps more interesting:

Barack Obama Ran On A MARXIST PARTY Line in 1996

It seems that Senator Obama’s Old party was called the New Party. The party was a Marxist Political coalition. This was not a guilt by association thing. Senator Obama sought out their nomination. He was successful in obtaining that endorsement, and he used a number of New Party volunteers as campaign workers. Read more on the Marxist endorsement that Barack Obama sought out:

Co-founded in 1992 by Daniel Cantor (a former staffer for Jesse Jackson’s 1988 presidential campaign) and Joel Rogers (a sociology and law professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison), the New Party was a Marxist political coalition whose objective was to endorse and elect leftist public officials — most often Democrats. The New Party’s short-term objective was to move the Democratic Party leftward, thereby setting the stage for the eventual rise of new Marxist third party.

Most New Party members hailed from the Democratic Socialists of America and the militant organization ACORN. The party’s Chicago chapter also included a large contingent from the Committees of Correspondence, a Marxist coalition of former Maoists, Trotskyists, and Communist Party USA members.

The New Party’s modus operandi included the political strategy of “electoral fusion,” where it would nominate, for various political offices, candidates from other parties (usually Democrats), thereby enabling each of those candidates to occupy more than one ballot line in the voting booth. By so doing, the New Party often was able to influence candidates’ platforms. (Fusion of this type is permitted in seven states — Connecticut, Delaware, Idaho, Mississippi, New York, South Carolina, and Vermont — but is common only in New York.)

Though Illinois was not one of the states that permitted electoral fusion, in 1995 Barack Obama nonetheless sought the New Party’s endorsement for his 1996 state senate run. He was successful in obtaining that endorsement, and he used a number of New Party volunteers as campaign workers.

from http://www.yidwithlid.blogspot.com

funky chicken on May 29, 2008 at 3:07 PM

This doesn’t seem like that big a deal. He played by the rules and lets face it, you don’t win any office by allowing everyone on stage with you.

Rogue Traveler on May 29, 2008 at 3:07 PM

I can’t say I follow this too closely, but my read is that it’s not so much wrong as hypocritical. Granted, we’ve seen many worse examples of Obama’s “new kind of politics,” but this is a little easier to explain to the politically disengaged than his other hypocrisies.

calbear on May 29, 2008 at 3:08 PM

It’s the part where some of the disqualifications followed a voter-roll purge that just cracks me up, though. I wonder what Merry Frances Berry would have to say about it.
Or if Kevin Spacey will make a movie about it: “Discount”

MayBee on May 29, 2008 at 3:10 PM

so the messiah is also a hypocrite…what else is new.

Chudi on May 29, 2008 at 3:10 PM

I hate to break it to people, but the rules required signatures, not printed names.

And all voters in Chicago are literate with flowing handwriting? I would vote for an amendment that made the requirements for voting stricter, like literacy, speaking english and paying taxes for instance, but until then even semi-literates who can only print their names are still allowed to vote. This story just shows that barry is only another ruthless politician who could care less about the voting rights of his constituents when they are in the way of his power and free ride.

peacenprosperity on May 29, 2008 at 3:10 PM

Did he enforce the voter fraud in Cook county during his race for President?

Chakra Hammer on May 29, 2008 at 3:12 PM

ooooo, how about this?

Thursday, May 29, 2008
Obama Uses Police Memorial as Potty Site

Remember that campaign stop where Obama used the rock band to get a giant crowd? Well there is more to the story. Expecting a large crowd the campaign set up portable toilets, RIGHT IN THE MIDDLE OF A POLICE MEMORIAL . The Police are rightfully pissed and want an apology. I guess we know now that Obama’s version of change includes a loss of respect for those who died protecting us:

Also from yidwithlid.blogspot.com

I took out some naughty language and gratuitous insults (I don’t mind them, but why dilute the point?)

funky chicken on May 29, 2008 at 3:15 PM

peacenprosperity, I’m not familiar with IL election law, but I have worked on election law cases in other states. There are provisions for voters whose “signatures” are printed because they cannot write in cursive or because they have some type of disability. I like this kind of old school, street level politics. I’m in favor of tighter voter fraud rules. What this episode shows is that Obama (and most Dems) are hypocrite. It’s all “Rock the Moter Voter Illegal Alien Dead Guy Vote” only as long as the vote is for a Dem.

boko fittleworth on May 29, 2008 at 3:20 PM

I’ve seen this popping up on DU for the last few months. It really only speaks to Obama being a poor choice for party nominee, having never run a truly contested campaign. The Clinton folks should mention it when his campaign starts belly-aching about not being on the ballot in MI.

rw on May 29, 2008 at 3:20 PM

Well, I hate to break it to people, but the rules required signatures, not printed names.

Some people’s signatures are printed.

I’m not saying Obama should be hammered for this. He was just following the law.

However, I find the law itself a little ridiculous. A person’s printing his/her own name can be just as identifiable as the person writing in cursive.

Esthier on May 29, 2008 at 3:21 PM

No problem with Obama doing that, even a blind squirrel finds an acorn once in awhile.
He did the right thing…so that is news? That worries me, he did something right and it becomes newsworthy.

right2bright on May 29, 2008 at 3:22 PM

How DO you get the signatures of dead people, anyway?

JimK on May 29, 2008 at 3:22 PM

They key is that he spouts about the people, and having NEW Politics and change….

and then uses the old style rules to get rid of any competition…

Messege versus action…

Romeo13 on May 29, 2008 at 3:22 PM

I am from Chicago so let me explain to you why this is so bad. Requiring signatures is the same as “acting white.” So BO was acting white when he insisted that the election rules be followed.

Your welcome.

Bill C on May 29, 2008 at 3:31 PM

Obama opposes voter fraud? Glad to hear it. I’m sure that means he will support laws that require people registering to vote to prove that they are American citizens. Because with 20-40 million illegal aliens living and working and demanding rights in the U.S., we certainly want to make sure that the only people casting votes in our elections are actual citizens of this country, right Obama???

(And BTW, I’m sure Obama’s support of drivers’ licenses for illegal aliens has nothing to do with giving them a legal ID so that they can then register to vote, right Obama?)

AZCoyote on May 29, 2008 at 3:31 PM

As a community organizer, he had helped register thousands of new voters. But when it came time to run for office, he employed Chicago rules to invalidate the voting petition signatures of three of his challengers The move denied each of them, including incumbent Alice Palmer, a longtime Chicago activist, a place on the ballot. It cleared the way for Obama to run unopposed on the Democratic ticket in a heavily Democrat district.

The founding fathers would be so proud of Barack Obama. He is an empty suit in many matters, but a very smart lawyer. Why run against political opponents when you can just knock them out and silence their supporters, and run unopposed.

Can Obama disenfranchise democrat voters?

Yes he can.

wise_man on May 29, 2008 at 3:33 PM

Congratulations Obama. If only the rest of your party was as concerned about fraud as they are about “disenfranchised voters”… i.e. criminals, foreign nationals, and the living dead.

Lehosh on May 29, 2008 at 3:34 PM

How DO you get the signatures of dead people, anyway?

JimK on May 29, 2008 at 3:22 PM

Ghost Writers

right2bright on May 29, 2008 at 3:40 PM

… and I guaran-damn-tee you all that if McCain or any other republican would have played some kind of trick to get their rivals pushed out of the race so that they could run unopposed. You can bet your last dollar that the democrats would “see the issue.” The Huffington Post would make that story their front page lead.

(and it would get linked here so everyone would talk about it.)

wise_man on May 29, 2008 at 3:40 PM

As soon as Obama signs on to voter ID requirements, then maybe this will seem like something other than political opportunism.

Seixon on May 29, 2008 at 3:42 PM

funky chicken on May 29, 2008 at 3:07 PM

I caught that there yesterday. Has it been around the Net yet?
Obama has so many questionable acquaintances, one begins to lose track og them all.

Connie on May 29, 2008 at 3:43 PM

manchurian candidate.

slick

cntrlfrk on May 29, 2008 at 3:43 PM

of

Connie on May 29, 2008 at 3:43 PM

The only places this may have legs are:

1) Rural environments where everyone knows everyone else. (who needs signatures?)

2) Superdelegates who want someone just as much a “junkyard dog” as Hillary. (clearly Obama knows how to play hardball…)

Neither matter significantly overall.

Mew

acat on May 29, 2008 at 3:44 PM

Well, I hate to break it to people, but the rules required signatures, not printed names.

I know plenty of people who have boring signatures, which bear an eerily close resemblance to their printed handwriting. I also know plenty of people with signatures that consist of a squiggle and a line, with no actual letters. Why should the latter be more valid than the former?

Big S on May 29, 2008 at 3:46 PM

funky chicken on May 29, 2008 at 3:07 PM

Stanley Kurtz has a very interesting article about Obama’s association with the group Acorn, which also mentions the “New Party.”

Gilda on May 29, 2008 at 3:50 PM

How DO you get the signatures of dead people, anyway?

JimK on May 29, 2008 at 3:22 PM

Ghost Writers

right2bright on May 29, 2008 at 3:40 PM

LOL to both JimK and right2bright!

I guess as long as the living-challenged Chicagoans still have the right to vote it is ok to knock them off the petitions. The life-impaired have rights too!

rbj on May 29, 2008 at 3:53 PM

Gilda on May 29, 2008 at 3:50 PM
funky chicken on May 29, 2008 at 3:07 PM

Atlas Shrugs picked up the New Party story.

1996, Obama Ran on Marxist Party Line

Connie on May 29, 2008 at 3:56 PM

It’s not the fact that he challenged them and took them off the ballot. It’s the fact that this means he’s ultimately even more inexperienced than we thought. This means what, that he’s had like one election?

We’re screwed.

John_Locke on May 29, 2008 at 3:57 PM

Like Ed, I have no problem with this, in and of itself. IIRC, however, Palmer had given Obama a leg up earlier on, and this is what he repaid her with. Again, hardball politics, no biggie. But, the agent of Hope! and Change!? Or, JAFP*?

/Just Another Frakkin’ Politician

bikermailman on May 29, 2008 at 4:00 PM

Chicago’s Better Government Association.

The moment you think you’ve completed your list of completely ineffective things….

Kafir on May 29, 2008 at 4:06 PM

What’s one more instance of hypocrisy among friends?

I’ve seen so much Obama hypocrisy that I no longer believe anything he says. If he said, “Good morning,” I’d go outside and check where the sun is, and still get a second opinion.

NeighborhoodCatLady on May 29, 2008 at 4:18 PM

Ed, you’re 100% correct… but ya gotta admit it does tarnish the halo he keeps trying to adorn himself with.

Diogenes of Sinope on May 29, 2008 at 4:24 PM

Obama in 1996: Nyaa Nyaa, I win, you’re not on the ballot!

Obama in 2008: BWAHAHAHAAA! Don’t count Michigan, I wasn’t on the ballot!

Having it both ways–priceless.

Steve Z on May 29, 2008 at 4:26 PM

Or if Kevin Spacey will make a movie about it: “Discount”

MayBee on May 29, 2008 at 3:10 PM

You mean “Recount”? :)

funky chicken on May 29, 2008 at 3:07 PM

Thanks – one more item for my Obama file!

Buy Danish on May 29, 2008 at 4:28 PM

The problem isn’t that Obama played and plays hardball in politics; it’s that he is such a hypocrite in that he says he is for reforming politics, reaching across the aisle, “hope”, “change”, blah, blah, blah. He’s nothing more than a political hack who has been given a HUGE pass by most of the media. Glad to see CNN taking notice how ordinary Obama is, and how little involvement he has ever had in “bringing people together”.

Steve Tsouloufis on May 29, 2008 at 4:34 PM

If Democrats claim you do not need an official ID to vote, how can they claim you must have signatures on a petition?

EJDolbow on May 29, 2008 at 5:21 PM

It’s an issue because it tells us Barack Obama is a ruthless, power-hungry politician who would rather knock out his opposition than compete in the marketplace of ideas. It tells us that he’s pretty darn sure that if he has to share his genuine vision with the voters, they won’t vote for him unless there’s no one else running. That seems to run counter to the cuddly, change-y guy we’re being sold.

Rational Thought on May 29, 2008 at 9:27 PM

What happened to “let every vote count”?

MarkTheGreat on May 30, 2008 at 6:46 AM