The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO


May 31, 2013

Marta Mossburg, columnist: New boss is just the same as the old ‘Boss’

— For those looking for insight into the scandals engulfing the Obama administration, read “Boss,” Mike Royko’s classic 1971 biography of former Chicago Mayor Richard J. Daley.

The IRS targeting of conservative groups and the Department of Justice (DOJ) criminalizing reporting will make more sense after understanding how the infamous Chicago Machine, the one that birthed President Barack Obama, worked.

It’s the one where honest police “were distinguished by their rank, which was seldom above patrolman.” It’s the one where millionaires were allowed to “contribute to the party, serve on advisory boards, take on time-consuming appointments and help elect Machine Democrats to office.” And it’s the one where everyone knew their role without being told. In order to be elected one had to make it through the system, “beginning as doorbell ringers, working in the jobs their sponsors got for them, pushing the ward book, buying the tickets, doing the favors, holding the coats, opening the doors, putting in the fix.”

Obama did not rise through the Machine like Daley or his son, Richard, mayor of Chicago from 1989 to 2011. He adopted it by moving to Chicago for good after Harvard Law School.

As he told The Hyde Park Herald in 1995, “I came home in Chicago… I began to see my identity and my individual struggles were one with the struggles that folks face in Chicago.”

The man who had never been a ward committeeman or moved up the patronage job ladder originally saw himself as above its parochial maneuverings. But he learned the hard way after U.S. Rep. Bobby Rush decimated him in a 2000 primary that he would get nowhere as the proverbial “nobody nobody sent.”

So he embraced it, ingratiating himself with the proper pastors, politicians and now-commerce secretary nominee Penny Pritzker, the billionaire whose family founded Hyatt Hotels and who raised millions for him. And life was good. He moved from Illinois state senator to U.S. Senator under their tutelage.

Schooled in its powers, he moved key sections of the Democratic National Committee to Chicago in 2008 so that it could be fully integrated into his campaign, thereby Chicago-fying national Democratic politics. And its imprint can be found all over the scandals, even if Obama’s official fingerprints aren’t.

It can be seen in Lois Lerner, the head of the section at the IRS that handles tax-exempt applications, declaring that she broke no law and did nothing wrong before she took the Fifth. And it can be seen in the focused auditing of conservative groups, the coordination across multiple federal agencies of audits, inspections and investigations of some and, in one case, the release of IRS records to a group’s political opponent. Like exemplary patronage employees who worked their way up the local Democratic ladder by following its rules, she and her managers methodically accomplished party goals, the only law they knew.

When President Obama’s re-election campaign said “wealthy individuals with less-than-reputable records” are donating to his political opponent Mitt Romney, it used its power to audit them. When the president berated Supreme Court justices sitting in front of him at the 2010 State of the Union speech for making it easier for corporations to donate to political causes, it targeted groups, hundreds of them, funded by the new cash flowing through the political system, for special scrutiny, delayed their tax-exempt applications for years and coordinated the operation across the country like a well-oiled … machine. When Obama in 2010 called Fox News “destructive to (America’s) long-term growth,” Eric Holder’s Justice Department took it one step further by labeling one of its reporters a criminal co-conspirator in a national security investigation.

The Obama administration keeps acting as if it knew nothing about the yin to its yang. The distancing has become so scripted it was almost comical when on May 15 President Obama took to the airwaves to announce the firing of the acting IRS commissioner without mentioning his name, as if he was so far removed from the operations of the organization he didn’t know its leader.

That posture didn’t work for an embattled Daley in his second term. As Royko writes, “But since everybody took orders from him, nobody was impressed by his pose.” Daley fixed his problems by launching a public relations program and was soon on top again, “treated like a hero and a reformer.”

There are no government heroes in this story, however. Only people who deserve the full consequences of a rule of law that applies to everyone, even them.

Marta H. Mossburg writes frequently about national affairs and about Maryland, where she lives. Write her at Follow her on Twitter at @mmossburg.

Text Only
  • Our View.jpg Our View: No need for No. 9

    “Shall the Missouri Constitution be amended so that the people shall be secure in their electronic communications and data from unreasonable searches and seizures as they are now likewise secure in their persons, homes, papers and effects?”

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • Your View: ‘Right to Farm’ is wrong

    On Aug. 5, voters will be asked to make a decision about Amendment 1.

    July 29, 2014

  • Your View: No on Amendment 7

    The Missouri Department of Transportation is wanting more money through a three-quarter-cent addition to the sales tax. Consider one example of how it spends your money.

    July 29, 2014

  • Your View: Bad way to get revenue

    I received two fliers through the mail today asking me to vote “yes” on Amendment 7, which would add a three-quarter-cent tax to Missouri’s sales tax to help maintain roads and bridges.

    July 29, 2014

  • Other Views Other Views: Symptom of bad policy

    The Obama administration continues to be surprised and shocked when its policies of good intentions suddenly meet the hard reality of unintended consequences.

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • Rebecca French Smith, guest columnist: Amendment 1: Farmers are 'boots on the ground'

    Take a moment and ask yourself who was the last person in your family to farm.

    July 28, 2014

  • Your View; Makes no sense

    Chess was never my game. It’s too complicated.

    July 28, 2014

  • Your View: Time value of money

     I was shaking my head along with Anson Burlingame (“Much has changed in U.S. over 14 years,” Globe, July 22), then he offered his readers a chance: “Go ahead — take your pick.”

    July 28, 2014

  • Your View: Boiling a frog

    We voters are now being urged to vote on Aug. 5 for Amendment 7 “to fix our roads, highways and bridges.”

    July 28, 2014

  • Our view: 'Yes' on 7

    Opponents of Amendment 7 say this: “Missouri families are already hard pressed to pay their bills during this period of slow economic recovery.”

    July 26, 2014

Local News
Twitter Updates
Follow us on twitter

Given that the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that electronic devices and communications are protected from searches and seizure without a warrant, do you think Missouri needs Amendment 9 added to its constitution?

A. Yes.
B. No.
     View Results
NDN Video
Rodents Rampant in Gardens Around Louvre House to Vote on Slimmed-down Bill for Border Looming Demand Could Undercut Flight Safety Raw: 2 Shells Hit Fuel Tank at Gaza Power Plant Raw: Massive Explosions From Airstrikes in Gaza Giant Ketchup Bottle Water Tower Up for Sale Easier Nuclear Construction Promises Fall Short Kerry: Humanitarian Cease-fire Efforts Continue Raw: Corruption Trial Begins for Former Va Gov. The Carbon Trap: US Exports Global Warming UN Security Council Calls for Gaza Cease-fire Traditional African Dishes Teach Healthy Eating 13 Struck by Lightning on Calif. Beach Baseball Hall of Famers Inducted Israel, Hamas Trade Fire Despite Truce in Gaza Italy's Nibali Set to Win First Tour De France Raw: Shipwrecked Concordia Completes Last Voyage Raw: Sea Turtle Hatchlings Emerge From Nest Raw: Massive Dust Storm Covers Phoenix 12-hour Cease-fire in Gaza Fighting Begins