For people who pay attention to politics, the phrase “Chicago Machine Politics” means all the worst aspects of electioneering, corruption and dirty politics. Jobs are handed out as political favors, contributions are solicited in exchange for contracts, and government workers spend their times leading up to Election Day doing political work on behalf of connected candidates. It’s everything that’s wrong with Washington politics, except far worse.

This is the starting point of David Freddoso’s new book, The Case against Barack Obama – The Unlikely Rise and Unexamined Agenda of the Media’s Favorite Candidate. For instance, it is little-known that Barack Obama’s first real election challenge was his primary race against… Hillary Clinton. In 1996, he ran for the State Senate but used Illinois’ arcane (and unconstitutional) election laws to throw every other candidate off the ballot. He won office unopposed.

In 2004, he ran for Senate but the sexual dalliances took down his main primary opponent. The general election race, however, would be pure comedy if it wasn’t so tragic for the Illinois Republican Party. A Republican version of Obama, Jack Ryan, won the primary nod, but he was not well-loved in the inner-circles of the state GOP organization. His divorce files were made public, and more sexual dalliances came out (at least those were with his wife) which sunk Ryan.

For weeks, the Illinois GOP could not find a nominee. They had to import Alan Keyes to run against Obama, who’s only campaign point seemed to be “Jesus would not vote for Barack Obama”. Obama won his Senate seat without any real opposition in what would have otherwise been a very bad year for the Democrats.

To political observers, it seems absurd that a product and participant of Chicago machine politics could credibly claim to be the voice of change and hope to reform Washington D.C. Not impossible, sure, but it defies credulity. Freddoso examines the facts of Obama’s career in Illinois, his relationships and his rise to power to definitively show that Obama is not the sterling immaculate candidate he portrays, but in reality, is just another Chicago politician – albeit with a better speech writer.

Throughout his tenure in the Illinois General Assembly, Obama had given favors and steered state contracts to contributors and friends. In particular, he has a great deal of ties to real estate developers that benefited from his state legislative career and he benefited from their success. Developers having access to the corridors of power is nothing new, especially in Chicago, but for a candidate who is preaching an anti-lobbyist anti-special interest message, the evidence shows he didn’t practice what he preaches.

The Obama campaign has steadfastly refused to speak the nitty-gritty of policy on the stump and has run a “cult of personality” campaign. This is why it is a timely and important work to show the man behind the façade, but to do so in a legitimate way. Many, mostly slanderous, attempts have been made to show Obama as some kind of un-American Trojan horse candidate. This has only helped to inoculate him against legitimate criticism. However, Freddoso sticks to the record with copious footnotes to back him up.

Most of Obama’s more radical leftist connections are public record. The public fallout from the Rev. Wright controversies started to bring to light that strange company that Obama has kept. In particular, Freddoso touches upon Obama’s relationship to Bill Ayers who was part of the terrorist group the Weathermen. Obama may try to walk and talk like a “moderate” on the stump, but he surrounds himself with the far left.

The book is a thorough treatment of Obama’s career, what he has done and how he got there. The image that emerges does not mesh at all with the icon of hope. The media, for their part, simply has not dug deep into the mirage that is the Obama campaign. The book provides a sorely needed analysis for a candidate who is almost getting a free ride to the White House. It is fact-based, well-researched and is critical reading for anyone interested in who Obama really is.

John Bambenek is an academic professional for the University of Illinois. He is the author of Illinois Deserves Better and is an information security professional, part of the Internet Storm Center and a courseware author and certification grader for the GIAC family of security certifications. He blogs at Part-Time Pundit and is the executive director of The Tumaini Foundation which helps AIDS orphans and other children in Tanzania to get an education.

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