Tammany Hall Redux?

I've been watching, reading, and listening to a lot of the discussion going on with regards to the primaries. And I continue to be certain that it's one huge nightmare that I'm sure we'll all wake up from at some point.

But until that time...

There's a lot of stuff going on that has me scratching my head and going "Huh? Haven't we already learned about this from...oh...history class?"

The plan is simple…and oddly, has been out there for those who are paying attention to see.

I missed it for a while. Then I heard about it. And as soon as I heard about it, I started getting flashes from my HS/undergrad history classes and discussions of Boss Tweed, Chicagoans voting twice—even the deceased, and Eleanor Roosevelt’s New York Committee for Democratic Voters.

Here’s the plan as reported by Politico:
Senator Barack Obama’s campaign is steering the candidate’s wealthy supporters away from independent Democratic groups, calling into question what had been expected to be the groups’ central role in this year’s Democratic offensive against Senator John McCain.

Obama’s national finance chairwoman, Chicago hotel mogul Penny Pritzker, told supporters at a national finance committee meeting in Indianapolis May 2, and in other conversations, not to give money to the groups, people familiar with her comments said.

“From the beginning of this race Obama has told supporters that if they want to help his effort, they should do so through his campaign,” said Obama spokesman Bill Burton, who confirmed that Pritzker has told donors not to give to the groups. “And he means exactly what he says.”

Most presidential candidates say they don't encourage the outside groups, and donors are accustomed to taking those words with a grain of salt. The candidates' words are typically seen as mere legal defenses against allegations that the campaigns are illicitly coordinating with outside groups.

Organizations like VoteVet, ActBlue, EMILY’s List, and others are about to feel the chilling effect of a political cold shoulder as the campaign seeks to take more and more control of who gets what money and why. Stoller points out that
"I'm also told, though I can't confirm, that Obama campaign has also subtly encouraged donors to not fund groups like VoteVets and Progressive Media. These groups fall under the 'same old Washington politics' which he wants to avoid, a partisan gunslinging contest he explicitly advocates against."

Ummm…gunslinging, Matt? VoteVets is an advocacy group that seeks to help veterans. It’s currently involved in trying to help Senator Webb pass a GI Bill that will help vets afford to pay for their college education—something that both the recent plan (intended for peace time soldiering) and Sen. McCain’s bill do not do as well.

And while I get the “grudging respect” that seems to be handed to the Chicago School of ‘Old School’ Politics graduate, Sen. Obama, with regards to his organizational style, I am pulled short by the shades of machine/boss based politics—Tammany Hall and Chicago Politics—and how quickly these machinations spiraled down from “ward based politics” into the “patronage driven” system that allows only the “approved” to have access and the very entity that Jeff Smith stood up and railed against in his filibuster—GRAFT.

Senator? If you want to take us back to the fine old days of Boss Tweed, say so. Don’t try to candy coat it with soaring, yet triangulating, rhetoric about “being above politics”…cause you aren’t.

Is this a path we want to go down...again?

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