‘Chicago politics’ doesn’t sound so bad

‘CHICAGO POLITICS’ DOESN’T SOUND SO BAD…. Karl Rove, who has more first-hand knowledge of sleazy political tactics than anyone breathing, devoted his new Wall Street Journal column to denouncing President Obama’s “Chicago politics.”

As Rove sees it, policymakers should be “worried” about the White House’s hardball tactics, which Rove believes are shaped by Obama’s “training in the methods once used by Saul Alinsky, the radical Chicago community organizer.”

Given that the president’s strategies thus far have struck me as rather conciliatory and reasonable, I was curious to see what kind of indictment Rove could put together.

“Don’t think we’re not keeping score, brother.” That’s what President Barack Obama said to Rep. Peter DeFazio in a closed-door meeting of the House Democratic Caucus last week, according to the Associated Press.

A few weeks ago, Mr. DeFazio voted against the administration’s stimulus bill. The comment from Mr. Obama was a presidential rebuke and part of a new, hard-nosed push by the White House to pressure Congress to adopt the president’s budget. He has mobilized outside groups and enlisted forces still in place from the Obama campaign.

Senior presidential adviser Valerie Jarrett and her chief of staff, Michael Strautmanis, are in regular contact with MoveOn.Org, Americans United for Change and other liberal interest groups. Deputy Chief of Staff Jim Messina has collaborated with Americans United for Change on strategy and even ad copy. Ms. Jarrett invited leaders of the liberal interest groups to a White House social event with the president and first lady to kick off the lobbying campaign.

Its targets were initially Republicans, as team Obama ran ads depicting the GOP as the “party of no.” But now the fire is being trained on Democrats worried about runaway spending.

Americans United is going after Democrats who are skeptical of Mr. Obama’s plans to double the national debt in five years and nearly triple it in 10. The White House is taking aim at lawmakers in 12 states, including Democratic Sens. Kent Conrad, Ben Nelson, Mary Landrieu, Blanche Lincoln and Mark Pryor. MoveOn.Org is running ads aimed at 10 moderate Senate and House Democrats. And robocalls are urging voters in key districts to pressure their congressman to get in line.

Hmm. The president is encouraging lawmakers to support his legislative agenda; White House aides are occasionally in communication with their political allies; and liberal groups are urging members of Congress to support bills they agree with. The horror!

Seriously, are we supposed to find this scary? If these are the “Chicago” tactics the political world should be wary of, I think our democracy will survive.

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