‘Chicago Machine’ Ad
The latest McCain ad gets a little dirty, trying to tie Barack Obama to “the corrupt Chicago political machine.”
John McCormick provides the transcript:
Announcer: Barack Obama.
Born of the corrupt Chicago political machine.
Obama: In terms of my toughness, look first of all, I come from Chicago.
Announcer: His economic adviser, William Daley. Lobbyist. Mayor’s brother.
His money man, Tony Rezko. Client. Patron. Convicted Felon.
His “political godfather.” Emil Jones. Under ethical cloud.
His governor, Rod Blagojevich. A legacy of federal and state investigations.
With friends like that, Obama is not ready to lead.
His Chicago Tribune colleague, Rick Pearson, thinks the connections rather tenuous.
Republicans in Illinois have been pointing out the dysfunction that has exists in state government and politics under Democrats’ one-party rule of the governor’s office and the state legislature. But Obama’s links to [unpopular Democratic Governor Rod] Blagojevich are tenuous, at best.
Bill Burton, Obama’s spokesman, called the new ad a “false, gratuitous attack” mounted on the same day that reports circulated that Rick Davis, McCain’s campaign manager, had previously been paid $2 million to lobby against tighter regulation of housing giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. “Barack Obama was elected to the Illinois Senate as an independent Democrat,” Burton said. “He took on the Chicago Democratic organization in a primary to win a seat in the U.S. Senate. And in both Illinois and Washington, he has challenged the old guard for landmark ethics reforms.”
Obama did win a heavily contested Democratic primary in 2004 to win the U.S. Senate seat, but taking on the “Chicago Democratic organization” as Burton asserts is pretty strong language. Mayor Richard Daley provided no public support for Obama in a crowded field and another mayoral brother, John Daley, a Cook County commissioner and head of the county board’s powerful finance committee, backed Comptroller Dan Hynes in the race. Hynes is the son of former Cook County assessor and ex-Senate President Tom Hynes.
The ad doesn’t make any direct claims about Obama and Blagojevich, merely noting that they’re from the same state, but the clear intent is to tie them together in the public mind. It’s no more “false” or gratuitous” than any of countless spots that play the guilt-by-association game of noting that a politician is from the same party as some less-well-liked politician. Still, it’s not exactly “straight talk,” either.
Oddly, I’d think the ad would be more effective without mention of Blagojevich given that he’s not exactly a household name outside Illinois. The ties between Obama and Rezko and Jones are much stronger and there’s a general — if perhaps outdated — perception that Chicago is a corrupt town.
Overall, it’s likely an effective ad in that most people probably don’t know that Obama has anything to do with Chicago. Suspicion that he’s a creature of the city’s machine — which has at least some kernel of truth — is likely to hurt him with undecided voters.