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Where’s the Scrutiny?

Daniel J. Kelley 27 February 2008 17 Comments

In the waning days of his unsuccessful presidential campaign, former Bob Dole asked a rhetorical question: “Where’s the outrage?” This was a challenge to the media and the public concerning serious allegations, many of which were subsequently proven, that the Clinton/Gore campaign has engaged in illegal fund raising practices which had included accepting contributions from foreign nationals. Dole correctly pointed out that the press had been ignoring the story. Although the issue failed to produce dividends for Dole, the press belatedly took up the issue. Vice President Gore’s visit to a Buddhist temple fund raising event, where some illegal contributions were collected, tarnished his reputation and may have cost him a few precious votes in 2000.

The perpetual adolescent columnist, Richard Roeper, of the incredible shrinking Chicago Sun-Times raised a question today concerning criticisms of Barack Obama. Roeper cannot fathom why his opponents have ratcheted up their criticism of the Democratic front runner. Much of the recent criticisms may be expressed in the form of another rhetorical question: “Where’s the scrutiny?”

Other campaigns have begun to openly question Obama’s lack of accomplishments and to criticize the media for giving him a free pass in terms of his experience and qualifications. When former President Clinton disparaged Obama’s record by calling it “a fairy tale,” Obama’s spin doctors suggested that it was a divisive comment and a form of veiled racism.

Roeper trotted out Obama’s standard campaign biography and pronounced him qualified. Once again, Obama’s resume was not subjected to a critical examination. His position as the first African American to serve as the leader of the Harvard Law Review was singled out. Significantly, Roeper failed to mention that the standards for selecting law students for this prestigious position have been altered. I spoke to a former classmate, who is now a judge in New England, and was informed that grades alone are no longer the sole criterion in being selected for the law review. A new formula was created to promote greater diversity and inclusion. According to my source, Obama was a direct beneficiary of this rules change.

Barack Obama and his wife, Michelle, constantly point to their academic credentials, but seldom refer to the affirmative action policies that enabled them to attend elite universities. Is it purely coincidental that Michelle Obama received a promotion and a substantial salary increase immediately after her husband was elected to the U.S. Senate? What about the curious real estate transaction that put the happy couple into a $1.6 dollar mansion? Of course, to Roeper, that is all so much old news. Obama is ethical. He told us so.

Similarly, Obama’s law school faculty position at the University of Chicago is often cited, but rarely do the accounts mention the fact that Obama was in a fact an adjunct professor (i.e. a part-time instructor). This is not necessarily a bad thing. Many working professionals teach on a part-time basis, but it does seem as if the Obama campaign has gone out of its way to exaggerate his meager resume.

Roeper also lauds Obama for having written two best selling books. This is factual, but what type of books were they? Two autobiographies. How many normal persons write two autobiographies before their fortieth birthday? It is a time honored practice for politicos to publish books, so I am not overly excited about Obama’s being an author. Many produce books as a means of self promotion and increasing their personal incomes quickly, but how many people actually bother to read such vanity publications? A few of the more celebrated books have been ghost written. I would not go so far as to compare “Dreams of My Father” or “The Audacity of Hope” to Kennedy’s “Profiles in Courage” (which is actually readable) or Goldwater’s “Conscience of a Conservative.” Obama’s books contain composite characters and fictionalized events. How much credit can one give to an autobiography that is partly imaginary? If you are looking for autobiographical fiction, why don’t you read “A Million Little Pieces.”

Apparently, Roeper missed the damning exchange that occurred on the MSNBC cable program “Hardball.” Host Chris Matthews, a former top aide to the late House Speaker Thomas P. (Tip) O’Neill, asked an Obama surrogate from Texas to name a single accomplishment from Obama’s career in public office. The guest was unable to respond. It was painful to watch. This was not a case of forgetfulness. There simply was not any solid achievement to refer to despite the fact that Obama had been an elected official for more than a decade. The video clip is available online, Richie. Do take a look at it sometime soon.

Illinois gambled upon its future when it elected Rod Blagojevich to serve as its governor. After a decade as a full-time legislator, Blagojevich had not passed a single piece of important legislation. His sole accomplishment as a legislator was to rename a neighborhood post office branch after a slain police officer. Experience counts. The hallmarks of Blagojevich’s gubernatorial tenure has been a lax work ethic and a refusal to work with the state legislature.

On paper, Blagojevich’s credentials compare favorably with Obama‘s. He also attended law school and briefly served as a prosecutor. He served two terms in Springfield as a representative and three terms in Congress. Upon closer examination, it becomes clear that Blagojevich was an absolute backbencher who did little more than collect paychecks and campaign for reelection. As a state senator, Obama distinguished himself by voting present on more than one hundred and twenty-five bills.

Can we afford to repeat the mistake made in Illinois by endorsing the candidacy of an unproven quantity? As for Roeper, opposing political campaigns would not have to find fault with Obama if the press bothered to do its job rather than act as cheerleader for vague peddler of hope and hype.


Daniel J. Kelley is a contributor to the Chicago Daily Observer


  • dorrett (author) said:

    It is clear that you are a bigot by using word like Osama in your 5th paragraph. Your article reeks of jealousy towards Senator Obama. Check his legislative experience against that of Senator Clinton and report the facts.

  • Dan Kelley (author) said:


    It is clear that you are a clueless partisan.

    The column contains three simple typographical errors, two relate to spelling, one to punctuation. I submitted this column one week ago. Everything that is submitted is routinely subjected to editing.

    Former State Senator Steve Rauschenberger, who served with Obama in Springfield, has been quoted to the effect that Obama had no reform record in the General Assembly and passed no significant legislation. Obama simply followed the party line when voting (apart from voting “present” rather than “yea” or “nay” over one hundred and twenty times). According to Rauschenberger, in terms of voting, Obama was simply a clone of State Senate President Emil Jones in a better suit.

    Obama is untested and unproven. With all of her faults, Clinton is known commodity. Obama is a mystery. He claims to be all things to all people at all times. That is a prescription for disaster.

    If you have a library card, check out the Sinclair Lewis novel, “It Can’t Happen Here.” If you prefer to watch a film, rent “A Face in the Crowd.” It is seldom advisable to elect an unknown.

  • Pat Hickey (author) said:

    Caught being a bigot, Kelley, I see; well what Time is it? Ah, yes the General Betrayus Hour! Time for that Progressive Old Timey Smug Self-righteousness! Move over, Kelley – my turn in the ducking stool.

    Ah Little Dorrett, or was it Dorrit? Matters not. You’ve plumped up with time and devotion to doctrine . . .’No public business of any kind could possibly be done at any time without the acquiescence of the Circumlocution Office. Its finger was in the largest public pie, and in the smallest public tart.’ Chew on that one , Li. . . Dorrett.

  • Man of Constant Sorrow (author) said:

    Pappy O’Daniel for President!

  • Pappy O'Daniel (author) said:

    Shake a leg Junior! Thank God your mammy died givin’ birth. If she’d have seen you, she’d have died o’ shame.

  • L Leichentritt (author) said:

    Saul Olinski trained Obama and Clinton at different points in time. No matter which Democrat wins Mr. Olinski’s legacy of political action will continue for the next four years.

    President elect Obama owes his victory to Shawn Haninty who has encouraged Republican voters to cross over and vote for Illinois Junior senator.

  • RJE (author) said:

    The media has a lot at stake when a candidate is nominated to represent his/her party when running for President of the United States. One nominee over another can effect TV ratings and newspaper sales in a big, big way.

    That being said, it could be possible that the media could slant or bias it’s perspective of one candidate in favor of another. Not definitely, but possibly. There is a large fortune at stake and people can be corrupted by it.

    What is also possible are delayed penalties against the Clintons while they were in the White House. Maybe they were hostile towards the press years ago and this is payback for it (see Ron Santo vs. New York Sportswriters).

    Remember, what we ask for isn’t necessarily what we really want.

  • Pat Hickey (author) said:

    Herr Leichentritt ,

    Don’t you mean Sean Alinsky?

  • dorrett (author) said:

    This is from the “clueless partisan”. I believe in facts and not fiction. I encourage the readers to read the post below and open your mind and heart to change and most of all, do your own research.


    Barack has held elected office for twelve years.

    During the first eight years, sponsored over 820 bills, including 233 regarding healthcare reform, 125 on poverty and public assistance, 112 crime fighting bills, 97 economic bills, 60 human rights and anti-discrimination bills, 21 ethics reform bills, fifteen gun control bills, six bills regarding veterans’ affairs, and many others.

    In his first year in the U.S. Senate, Barack authored 152 bills and co-sponsored another 427. These bills


    1. The Government Transparency Act (became law)

    2. The Nuclear Non-proliferation and Conventional Weapons Threat Reduction Act (became law)

    3. The Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act (passed the Senate)

    4. The Government Ethics Bill (became law)

    5. The Protection Against Excessive Executive Compensation Bill (now in committee), and many more.


  • Dan Kelley (author) said:

    Ah, Dorrett, there’s the rub… the measure of an effective legislator is that the bills actually become enacted into law. Three laws in a dozen years is not much of a legislative record. Some the laws that were enacted were latter day equivalents of the Kellogg-Briand Peace Pact (lovely sentiment, totally ineffectual).

    Requesting that we all open our hearts and minds to the Obama message sounds almost like a religious command. I vote in the polling place and worship in a church. I know the difference between a politician and an evangelist. Obama is seeking to blur the lines. I find this to objectionable.

  • RJE (author) said:

    Since noone can agree on who should be the next President, maybe a collection of highly-ranked political figures should rotate between the offices of President, Vice-President, Secretary of State, and some Cabinet positions. This “College of Governors” would be a mix of four Republicans and four Democrats who would hold these offices temporarily and move on to the next one when they feel they have achieved their objectives.

  • Dan Kelley (author) said:


    Phil Wrigley tried that with the “College of Coaches.” It did not work too well. ;-)

  • CDOBs Editors (author) said:

    Typographical errors are the oversight responsibility of the Editors of the Chicago Daily Observer. This article was cleared for content, but only subject to auto spell check, which inadvertently did not replace some obvious errors.

  • Josephine (author) said:

    I totally agree with this article. Straightforward and to the point with actual facts about Obama. The media is way out of line and does not show any objectivity whatsoever with respect to the candidates running for office. They show blatant favoritism toward Obama and negativism toward Clinton. They should be reporting “the facts”, not the biased “cheerleading” – good word for it! I hope the American people have more sense than to fall for someone like Obama who has not shown who he really is….at least we know what we are getting with McCain and Clinton – good or bad. Obama scares me.

  • Jackstraw Wilson (author) said:

    Tell Pat Hickey to f*** off!

  • Dan Kelley (author) said:

    It seems that we have an unidentified fan of “The Untouchables” television series gracing the comments page.

    Jackstraw Wilson was a famous flagpole sitter who acted as spy for Eliot Ness in one episode.

    Nonetheless, what is your point?

  • Sneezey (author) said:


    clap clap

    Flatulence for an encore?

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