The World Turned Upside Down
Thomas J. Hall, JD
January 17, 2009
On January 20, 2009, the United States will joyfully inaugurate “the politics of change.” It may prove to be the most momentous transition since Cornwallis surrendered at Yorktown . The American Way is about to become the Chicago Way.
The “ Chicago Way ,” of course refers to a particular style of bare-knuckled politics, exemplified by quick-witted, “Take no prisoners!” operators such as Rahm Emmanuel, soon to be White House chief of staff.
Indeed, the Way is a political proving ground nonpareil. It rewards intelligence, commitment and hustle—but, most of all, loyalty to the Boss. In Chicago , it’s “who sent you?” not “who are you?” The greatest proof the efficacy of the Way is the meteoric rise of Barack Obama. Despite a resume bereft of substantive accomplishments, he out-maneuvered Hillary Clinton at every turn and reduced John McCain to the desperate ploy of naming as his running mate an attractive woman almost as inexperienced as Mr. Obama.
Yet the Way is not without its flaws. It provides no immunity to human weakness, as demonstrated most recently by the arrest of “Gov. Blago.” And the conviction of former governor Ryan. And former governor Walker. And former governor Kerner. And former congressman Dan Rostenkowski. And Obama confidant Tony Rezko. It appears a requirement of high office under the Way to be indicted, or at least closely aligned with a felon. Yet to question Mr. Obama's personal integrity based on such facts would be “guilt by association” and wholly inappropriate by the standards established by the Media from Democrats. But, his Cabinet nominations thus far suggest an administration that will set an entirely new standard:
Eric Holder, for Attorney General. A lawyer's lawyer known and admired for his deft handling of the sale of numerous potentially controversial presidential pardons at the end of the first Clinton administration.
Hilda Solis, for Labor. A California congresswoman who has told the Senate that she is “not qualified” to answer questions about right-to-work laws, even though she would be called upon to administer those laws.
Timothy Geithner, for Treasury. An accomplished executive who committed the innocent error of failing to pay $34,000 in taxes. He did, however, correct the oversight, days before his nomination was announced.
Leon Panetta, for CIA. Mr. Panetta has vast political experience and may be the one person who was ever able to impose discipline on Bill Clinton. Critics note that he knows nothing about running an intelligence agency, but he may have a more compelling qualification: knowing where the political bodies are buried.
Hillary Clinton, for State. The Secretary of State is America 's official representative to the world and must be able to speak truth to power and uphold the highest standards of integrity and American idealism. Mrs. Clinton's commitment to outspokenness and truthfulness are already well documented. In addition, her effectiveness should only be enhanced by her marriage. After all, her husband appears to be on the payroll of virtually every thug or despot with whom she may be called upon to deal. Such pre-existing relationships are certain to be invaluable.
To borrow a phrase from an earlier administration, Mr. Obama is building a Cabinet that “looks like Chicago ” - tough, shrewd and goal oriented. That Bill Richardson, a proven leader, was bounced from this team is perplexing. Perhaps he did not grasp the Prime Directive of the Way: “Cut it out, or cut me in.”
Blogger's Note: Posted with the author's permission. Since he's an attorney, to avoid his suing me for tarnishing his reputation, I should note that despite the last names, we are not related.