Credit: New Yorker
Put aside the flap over the cover of the new New Yorker, a cartoon portraying the Obamas’ in the Oval Office— Barack Obama in a turban with Michelle Obama wielding an AK-47 machine gun with a picture of Osama Bin Laden in the background. The Obama campaign finds it offensive and with good reason. It is tasteless. David Axelrod on MSNBCs Morning Joe said did we like it? No. Is it the focus of our attention? No.
The cover hides an in-depth story about Obamas political roots, taking us to Hyde Park, the North Side and Springfield. New Yorker political writer Ryan Lizza brings us inside Obamas Chicago political world and the political culture that spawned the presumptive Democratic nominee.
Among Lizzas scoops:
*Ald. Toni Preckwinkle (4th), with Obama at the launch of his political careerwhen he ran for state senate and knocked his opponents off the ballotis lukewarm in the article and is critical of Obamas relationship with Tony Rezko. She also sidesteps a question about whether Obama has retained his personal integrity.
“I asked her if what she considered slights or betrayals were simply the necessary accommodations and maneuvering of a politician making a lightning transition from Hyde Park legislator to Presidential nominee. ‘Can you get where he is and maintain your personal integrity?’ she said. ‘Is that the question?’ She stared at me and grimaced. ‘I’m going to pass on that.’
*Lizza reports that Rep. Rahm Emanuel (D-Ill.) told him that Obama was a top strategist for Gov. Blagojevichs first gubernatorial campaign.
He and Obama participated in a small group that met weekly when Rod was running for governor, Emanuel said. We basically laid out the general election, Barack and I and these two. A spokesman for Blagojevich confirmed Emanuels account, although David Wilhelm, who now works for Obama, said that Emanuel had overstated Obamas role.
*The 2000 remap of state senate districts is a critical benchmark in the Obama history. With Democrats in control of the legislaturewinning the ability to dictate the mapsObama in 2001 was able to create a district that stretched from Hyde Park to the Gold Coast. That let him connect with a network of wealthy donors whose support was crucial to his future success
In the end, Obamas North Side fund-raising base and his South Side political base were united in one district. He now represented Hyde Park operators like Lois Friedberg-Dobry as well as Gold Coast doyennes like Bettylu Saltzman, and his old South Side street operative Al Kindle as well as his future consultant David Axelrod.