by Mark Rhoads
Like many people, I have wondered about what Sen. Barack Obama really did when he described his livlihood as that of a "community organizer." Who exactly pays for such services besides government grants? Writing in Newmax, Ronald Kessler has summarized some Chicago press articles about the role that Sen. Obama claimed he had in ridding Altgeld Gardens of asbestos. It seems that the senator may have taken liberties by claiming a lot more credit for his work when others really labored in the vineyard a lot longer and still do. CLICK HERE for the link to the Kessler story on Newsmax. Kessler says that according to court records, Obama never appeared in Cook County Court and appeared in 10 cases in federal court during the years his law license was in effect. By itself, this means little except that Obama supporters often claim he was a civil rights lawyer during this period.
A search of the archives of the Chicago Tribune reveals only three news articles between Oct. 28, 1985 and July 11, 1990 that mention the name "Barack Obama." Obama would have been between the ages of 24 and 29 duing this period. The first article talks about some small community grants. An article by Michael Ybarra on Feb. 7, 1990 mentions that Obama, described by the reporter as a "Chicago activist," will be the first black president of the Harvard Law Review. An article by Louis Aguilar on July 11, 1990 mentions Obama in a story about a survey that showed Chicago law firms were slow to add minority partners.
Obama is also mentioned favorably in an a feature story about Black History Month on by Frank James on Feb. 10, 1993 and in a is also mentioned in a feature story on June 22, 1993 about the Annenberg Challenge and in a People feature on June 27, 1993. These six articles ending when Obama is 32, three of which just mention his name, appear to be the whole of the public record about citizen and activist and community organizer Barack Obama in a major Chicago newspaper until Dec. 19, 1995 when Obama files against State Sen. Alice Palmer who had previously endorsed him but decided to run for her old job at the last minute. The Michael Ybarra story also touts the Obama work on Altgeld Gardens which was a key part of his pre-state senate campaign campaign resume.
Former Obama competitor Rep. Bobby Rush (D-Chicago) admits Obama did work on the asbestos problem at Altgeld Gardens but adds that the problem is still there more than 15 years after Obama bragged about his role in solving the problem.
A pattern has emerged in Obama's two books and other writings. It boils down to a common political malady of taking too much credit for things he was only loosely associated with. Al Gore's claim of parentage of the internet was based on one appropriations bill for ARPANET that he and many others sponsored one time. It was an amazing display of bravado on Gore's part. Hillary Clinton once claimed she wanted to join the Marines and was under fire at the airport in Kosovo. There are whoppers in print with Obama's byline that need to be run down starting with many claims in his book, "The Audacity of Hope."