Foreshadowed by his roots and bottle-rocket-like rise, Barack Obama’s legacy is one of betrayal and what might have been,… From the outset, he courted and was courted by the pillars of counter-revolution, his very blackness a cloak for his Manchurian mission.
by Jon Jeter
Part 6 - Obama and the new breed of foundation-hatched black voices
The political scientist Adolph Reed met Obama shortly after his election to the Illinois Senate and he was no more impressed than was Lu Palmer. He wrote in a 1996 article: “In Chicago, for instance, we’ve gotten a foretaste of the new breed of foundation-hatched black communitarian voices; one of them, a smooth Harvard lawyer with impeccable do-good credentials and vacuous-to-repressive neoliberal politics, has won a state senate seat on a base mainly in the liberal foundation and development worlds. His fundamentally bootstrap line was softened by a patina of the rhetoric of authentic community, talk about meeting in kitchens, small-scale solutions to social problems, and the predictable elevation of process over program — the point where identity politics converges with old-fashioned middle-class reform in favoring form over substance. I suspect that his ilk is the wave of the future in U.S. black politics, as in Haiti and wherever else the International Monetary Fund has sway. So far the black activist response hasn’t been up to the challenge. We have to do better.”
Three years later, Obama challenged Bobby Rush for his congressional seat, and the battle lines were sharply drawn much as they were in Reynolds’ congressional campaigns.
“A dozen years after the death of Harold Washington, there is a generational shift in the leadership of the black community,” Chicago Sun-Times columnist Steve Neal wrote in late 1999, as the campaign season was just gearing up in Chicago.
Chicago’s black community was less impressed, however.
“Barack is viewed in part to be the white man in Black face in our community,” said Donne Trotter, an Illinois state legislator who was also challenging Rush for the 1st Congressional District. “Who pushed him to get where he is so fast? It’s these individuals in Hyde Park who don’t always have the best interests of our community in mind.”
And while Washington auditioned for his job with Palmer and a ragtag group of grassroots organizers in a southside Chicago community center, Obama’s close-up moment was at a 2003 fundraiser at the home of Democratic fixer and Bill Clinton BFF Vernon Jordan — getting face-time with such Democratic establishment fixtures as former White House Counsel Greg Craig; Mike Williams, a lobbyist for a Bondholders’ Association; and Tom Quinn and Robert Harmala, partners at one of DC’s most connected firms, Venable LLP.