It's too bad the candidate and his staff didn't just laugh at what was an outstanding political cartoon. Instead, there was some huffing and puffing over how some people would inevitably not get the 'toon's joke and take it as more evidence of his Manchurian Candidate-like, secret alliance with Satanic forces.
Which, of course, created an unflattering story about the rather humorless and ill-advised pose being struck by the Obama camp. What is not getting enough play is the excellent in-depth article in that issue of The New Yorker about Obama's political training in Chicago.
"Making It," by Ryan Lizza, is a must-read for Obama's supporters, and for anyone else who has been going around saying they don't know enough about Obama to feel comfortable with him.
The article does nothing to perpetuate the myth that Barack Obama is somehow above the hurly-burly of real politics, or the fear he's so idealistic he doesn't have a grasp of what it takes to get something accomplished in that realm. What it does do is fill in a lot of blanks with well-researched background on a man who sometimes seems to have come out of nowhere.
Lizza's piece documents a remarkable rise to power in a city known for its no-holds-barred brand of politics, and, to some extent, it debunks the notion that Obama has suddenly lurched to the right to make himself more appealing to Independents and disillusioned Republicans.
Perhaps the greatest misconception about Barack Obama is that he is some sort of anti-establishment revolutionary. Rather, every stage of his political career has been marked by an eagerness to accommodate himself to existing institutions rather than tear them down or replace them. When he was a community organizer, he channelled his work through Chicago’s churches, because they were the main bases of power on the South Side. He was an agnostic when he started, and the work led him to become a practicing Christian. At Harvard, he won the presidency of the Law Review by appealing to the conservatives on the selection panel. In Springfield, rather than challenge the Old Guard Democratic leaders, Obama built a mutually beneficial relationship with them. “You have the power to make a United States senator,” he told Emil Jones in 2003. In his downtime, he played poker with lobbyists and Republican lawmakers. In Washington, he has been a cautious senator and, when he arrived, made a point of not defining himself as an opponent of the Iraq war.Click here to read the entire piece in New Yorker.
Like many politicians, Obama is paradoxical. He is by nature an incrementalist, yet he has laid out an ambitious first-term agenda (energy independence, universal health care, withdrawal from Iraq). He campaigns on reforming a broken political process, yet he has always played politics by the rules as they exist, not as he would like them to exist. He runs as an outsider, but he has succeeded by mastering the inside game. He is ideologically a man of the left, but at times he has been genuinely deferential to core philosophical insights of the right.