Thursday, December 11, 2008

Shine a light

Noam Scheiber provides a little light on the, er, complicated relationship between Obama and Chicago pol and outgoing Illinois Senate president Emil Jones.
For his part, Obama's relationship with Jones seems to have genuinely softened his thinking on machine politics, at least so far as it concerned delivering for people who would otherwise go without. Late in Obama's state senate career, Jones held an education bill hostage until it provided additional funding for a mostly black high school on Chicago's south side. It was the kind of inside manuever goo-goos typically denounce as a racial shakedown, and you can imagine the young Obama doing the same. Instead, Obama praised Jones, telling The Chicago Tribune that "if you talk to him, you see it's grounded in the sense that, for years, a predominantly African-American institution was short-changed by the state. ... He's playing the insider game to make sure money is going to these projects."
I much liked this comment from mkayser0:
you can't fix the politicians, because politicians are just people, and to a first approximation people are all pretty much the same. Instead, fix the institutions and the context in which politicians operate. Don't give a single person too much power, and shine a bright light on the workings of government to make sure people aren't slowly going crazy with power. Remember that Blago entered office as a reformer.

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