May 8th, 2010
By BEN SMITH & MANU RAJU, Politico
Illinois is baffling Obama
President Barack Obama’s enemies like to call him a creature of the “Chicago machine,” but when it comes to the politics of his home state of Illinois, the White House doesn’t seem to know where the gears are.
Indeed, Chicago has delivered an unending stream of embarrassment, frustration and discomfort to the administration of its favorite son, from an indicted governor to a failed Olympics bid to a series of smaller political blows.
In the latest encounter with political quicksand, the White House — already burned by a series of failures to fill Obama’s Senate seat with a chosen candidate — has been forced to proceed with extreme caution toward the damaged Democratic Senate nominee, Alexi Giannoulias, waiting to see if he drops out even as some of its allies want the White House to take a heavier hand.
Giannoulias is only the candidate, after all, because Obama, a proud Chicagoan, first failed to persuade Illinois’s Democratic governor to appoint Valerie Jarrett, the perceived favorite — at least without cash on delivery. Then, after the governor’s indictment, the White House tried, and failed, to keep Roland Burris from warming Obama’s seat. After that, Obama couldn’t persuade Illinois’s popular attorney general to run for a federal office that would be seen, in most states, as an obvious promotion.