The art of compromise

Ken Silverstein snagged the cover of the November _Harper’s_ with a strange article titled “Barack Obama Inc.: The Birth of a Washington Machine.” The article’s not the hatchet job that the title implies, but ends with a paean to these liberal lions:
* John Anderson
* Fred Harris
* William Proxmire
* George McGovern
* Frank Church

Why not throw Eugene V. Debs into the mix? Sure, back in the days of the liberal consensus and the Thirty Glorious Years, outright socialists on Capitol Hill could rail against the oil trusts. Lovely, but what the heck does that have to do with 2006? I’m sorry that Obama isn’t pure enough for you; he wasn’t pure enough for the 1st Congressional district in 2000. (Note to world: the man has actually lost an election.) Boo hoo. Well, Pat Buchanan is ideologically pure, mostly. Let’s rally around him.

Silverstein’s main charge seems to be that Obama has accepted money from corporate lawyers, financial interests, and ethanol interests. Well, Obama is a law professor at Chicago’s top law school, a city where lawyers and financiers have the big money (and where lawyers launder money from their anonymous clients).

Now, I’m “no fan of ethanol subsidies”: but, quite simply, elections in downstate Illinois are ethanol lovefests. There’s a whole lotta corn here, as some Eastern elitists might notice if they glanced down from the plane once in a while. The farmers, for better or worse, have tied their fortunes to ADM’s, and what you call “politically courageous” might well be “politically suicidal.”

There’s also an implication that Obama is responsible for the Hastert Highway and for “pork” in the highway bill. No, Hastert is responsible for the Hastert Highway. A Democrat in the Senate could not stop the Republican Speaker of the House from doing whatever he needs to do to get his bill through the House and through a conference committee stacked with Republicans, especially if said Democrat has been urged by the leaders back home (saddled with a ragged, rotting transportation infrastructure) to give Hastert whatever he wants as long as the rest of the region can share in the riches.