The “Chicago Crowd” and the Obama Presidency

20091129_inq_crashers29z-bjpgThe nation’s liberal elite is finally catching on – the narrow inner circle around Obama is in over their heads. Heck, they can’t even keep some polo-pony gate crashers from getting too close to the POTUS.

In the Politico essay linked below veteran journalist Elizabeth Drew examines the “shabby” treatment of White House counsel Greg Craig, whom the Obama Administration threw under the bus as a scapegoat for the delay in closing Guantanamo.

Drew’s only mistake is to hint, like many on the right, that the Obama Chicago crowd is anything like the real power elite that rules Chicago – it’s not, it’s the left-liberal Harold Washington crowd unexpectedly drafted into the vacuum in leadership that plagues the national Democratic party. The Daley machine would never have made the mistake Obama made with Craig.

Drew echoes the point I made several times during the campaign: that an insular group in the Obama campaign tightly controlled access to Obama and shaped his views. This led to very odd choices for some positions such as neo-stalinist blow-hard Van Jones as a “green jobs” advisor and turning to race-obsessed education advisors like Chris Edley, Goodwin Liu and Linda Darling-Hammond.

Of course, as Global Labor and King Harvest followers know, Obama is a product of an insular pseudo-left wing milieu that likely began to build around him in the 1980s during the education reform movement when Obama was a community organizer and continued when he returned to Chicago from Harvard and was elevated to the board chairmanship of the Chicago Annenberg Challenge by Bill Ayers.

I learned during the campaign that one senior figure in the Obama circle was very concerned about the continuous contact and influence of this insular Chicago circle which was said to include Ayers and his wife Bernardine Dohrn. While unsurprisingly neither Dohrn nor Ayers made it to the White House staff, Ayers recently was the keynote speaker at a conference at which Education Secretary Arne Duncan also spoke. So much for throwing the erstwhile terrorist under the bus.

The real crisis in leadership described by Drew and also by foreign policy expert Leslie Gelb is that this milieu is so thickly entangled with Obama’s character and has been for decades that it will be indeed hard to cut through it and rebuild a coherent White House team capable of articulating and executing an effective strategy. Cutting ties between the Taliban and Pakistan is likely to be an easier task.

Why the Greg Craig debacle matters –