‘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.

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2008, US Politics, , , , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is a Security Studies professor at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. DC Loser says:

    I’m looking forward to the Keating Five ads which should be airing momentarily. Honestly, if this is the best McCain can do to tie Obama to sleaze, it’s laughable. OTOH, McCain is supplying a motherlode of material for future Obama attack ads with his own track record and lobbyist ties.

  2. Michael says:

    I’m looking forward to the Keating Five ads which should be airing momentarily.

    Don’t hold your breath.

  3. Zelsdorf Ragshaft III says:

    If you think telling the truth about Sen. Obama is dirty, what would you call lies about Sarah Palin saying she was connected to the Alaska indepence movement? James, just travel over to the Jawa report or read Paterico or Ace. That is unless you are shilling for Obama?

  4. just me says:

    I don’t see the connections as any less tenuous than associating McCain with Rush Limbaugh.

  5. Nekulturny says:

    and there’s a general — if perhaps outdated — perception that Chicago is a corrupt town

    Our respective definitions of “dated” must be slightly different. It’s been what, barely more than a year since the federal investigation led to several indictments of Chicago officials?

  6. Scott Swank says:

    Actually Obama is tied to independent (i.e. non-machine) Aldermen like Joe Moore (49th ward), to state reps like Harry Osterman (non-machine), and to U.S. reps like Jan Schakowsky (non-machine). If you look at the Aldermen who are beholden to Daily and then compare them with the independent caucus you quickly see that the ad if factually inaccurate.

    In fact, the first that Bush heard of Obama was when he saw Jan Schakowsky wearing a button during Obama’s Senate campaign. Bush thought it said “Osama” and when Schakowsky pointed out that it was instead Obama he replied that he’d never heard of him. Schakowsky assured Bush that he would in fact hear of Obama.

    But then McCain isn’t going for factual accuracy.

  7. sam says:

    is likely to hurt him with undecided voters.

    That’s probably true, but I suspect the number so influenced won’t be large. However, talking about a “corrupt political machine” strikes me as quaint today; I’m not convinced the phrase has any traction. And unless you’re familiar with the folks listed, the ad’s something of a head-scratcher. Rod Blagojevich??

  8. Triumph says:

    The ad forgot to mention that Obama also is connected to other elements of the Chicago underworld, including Al Capone, George “Bugs” Moran, “Bathhouse” Coughlin, Frank Nitti, Eugene Debs, Chick Gandil, Michael McCaskey, Bill Wirtz, and Steve Bartman.

    Remember Hussein’s favorite baseball team is the White Sox–noted for throwing the 1919 World Series.

    Obama’s association with these criminal masterminds is disgusting.

  9. Floyd says:

    The term “corrupt political machine” may sound quaint, but to those who live with it everyday,
    “It sure ain’t quaint”
    As I said yesterday, Lincoln couldn’t get elected in Illinois today, but some of his contemporaries still vote!
    Obama is the product of a grotesquely “corrupt political Machine” and the nation should know the players, Quaint or not.

  10. anjin-san says:

    talking about a “corrupt political machine” strikes me as quaint today

    True. If there is a major city that is not corrupt I would like to know about it. Heck, I would settle for a minor city…

  11. Floyd says:

    “”The ad forgot to mention that Obama also is connected to other elements of the Chicago underworld, including Al Capone, George “Bugs” Moran, “Bathhouse” Coughlin, Frank Nitti, Eugene Debs, Chick Gandil, Michael McCaskey, Bill Wirtz, and Steve Bartman.””
    “”””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””

    Triumph,
    Just because those guys are going to VOTE for Obama doesn’t prove a connection, give the poor guy a break….GEEESSHHH!

  12. The McCain campaign should get that kid from The Sixth Sense and Bruce Willis to make a commercial where the kid says, “I see dead people — voting.”

  13. Bootlegger says:

    what would you call lies about Sarah Palin saying she was connected to the Alaska indepence movement?

    You mean the fact that she is on videotape giving the welcoming speech at their convention, twice! Or could you mean the video of their convention where they are discussing how “Sarah” fooled everyone into thinking she was a Republican and now they have one of their own on the inside. Truth=lies, keep that meme up baby.

  14. PD Shaw says:

    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.

    I think that’s probably true, but if the rumors are true that Rezko is cooperating with the feds and Blagojevich will be indicted by the end of the year (or before Rezko’s sentencing on Oct. 28th), then it’s quite possible that familiarizing the public with that name might be useful. If not, Rezko is the only name on that list that should bear repeating.

  15. Beldar says:

    Bootlegger: Let’s ignore the fact that Sarah Palin has been a registered Republican continuously since 1982. Let’s take your most damning view of the Alaska Independence Party and assume that they’re really in favor of outright secession. Let’s even assume that hockey mom Sarah Palin is the Manchurian Candidate, and everything she’s said or done for the last 20+ years has been for the goal of getting into a position to advance that state secession goal.

    For the last 21 months, she’s been in charge of the state national guard and state police forces. Under the Alaska constitution, she’s one of the most powerful state governors in the United States in terms of the scope of her executive authority and power vis-a-vis the state legislature.

    Why in the world would she leave that job to move to Washington, where her only lever of power would be to cast rare tie-deciding votes in the U.S. Senate?

    You might want to re-adjust your tin-foil hat.

  16. orman says:

    Corruption in Illinois politics is alive and well.
    Even the pols who haven’t been yet indicted are smelly. Someone described “Jan Schakowsky (non-machine)”. Jan’s husband – a community organizer – did time for kiting checks. Jan claimed his conviction was a plot by Bush to get her. Obama is an endorser of the Strogers – who pass county jobs around like family heirlooms. Axelrod, one of Obama’s guys, is a longtime Daley machine operator.

  17. G.A.Phillips says:

    The ad forgot to mention that Obama also is connected to other elements of the Chicago underworld, including Al Capone, George “Bugs” Moran, “Bathhouse” Coughlin, Frank Nitti, Eugene Debs, Chick Gandil, Michael McCaskey, Bill Wirtz, and Steve Bartman.

    Remember Hussein’s favorite baseball team is the White Sox–noted for throwing the 1919 World Series.

    Obama’s association with these criminal masterminds is disgusting.

    and then their are others and their reasons for bringing up his connections to the Chicago underworld and or underworld.
    http://www.ustream.tv/channel/michael-the-black-man-show

  18. WR says:

    Basically this ad is saying that Obama is disqualified from the presidency because he comes from Chicago. This is in direct line with the usual Republican attack that people who come from areas with Democratic majorities aren’t really Americans.

    In the last election we had to hear you people saying that John Kerry was suspect because he came from Massachusets — coincidentally the birthplace of the nation. As a lifelong Californian — from Berkeley, no less — I’ve been told over and over again that I’m not a real American. Same is true for New York, Seattle, Portland — oh, and now Hawaii.

    So exactly what percentage of this country do you hate and find unAmerican? Because I want to vote for candidates who will represent the entire nation, not just the places right-wingers feel comfortable in.

  19. G.A.Phillips says:

    So exactly what percentage of this country do you hate and find unAmerican? Because I want to vote for candidates who will represent the entire nation, not just the places right-wingers feel comfortable in.

    Is this a trick question?

    John Kerry was suspect because he came from Massachusets — coincidentally the birthplace of the nation.

    And I don’t get this at all.

    Basically this ad is saying that Obama is disqualified from being what he says he is and what he says he is gonna do.

  20. Floyd says:

    “”1]Basically this ad is saying that Obama is disqualified from the presidency because he comes from Chicago. 2]This is in direct line with the usual Republican attack that people who come from areas with Democratic majorities aren’t really Americans.””
    “””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””
    1] No…. it’s because he’s a DEMOCRAT from Chicago![lol] Do you even know David Axelrod, Richard Dailey, or Rod Blagojevich?
    2] In some of those areas, it IS literally true of huge percentages, our second largest city is majority illegals.

  21. Floyd says:

    He’s not from Chicago, but The “Axelrod Puppet’s” VP is seen here being interviewed by Jeff Dunham!!

    http://tinyurl.com/4oltgb