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It's a Tuesday in June, and I am in one of the high-ceiling big rooms of the old office building next to the White House.
As I look around the room at the players assembled here -- including this scribe -- I'm thinking that with a few twists of fate, this all-Chicago gang could be huddling in Mayor Daley's City Hall.
In front of me is Valerie Jarrett, a senior adviser to President Obama who today is chairing a roundtable marking the 37th anniversary of Title IX, the sports equity law. Across the room is Arne Duncan, the education secretary.
Seated in the first row is Tina Tchen, director of the White House public engagement office. Leaning against a wall is Susan Sher, chief of staff for Michelle Obama. In back of me in the vestibule is Daniel Hornung, a graduate of the University of Chicago Lab School who is working this summer for Jarrett. He is a friend of the daughter of Desiree Rogers, the White House social secretary. Marilyn Katz, a public affairs consultant visiting from Chicago, is also at the Title IX event.
Jarrett, Sher, Duncan and Tchen were all Daley appointees on boards or in top posts at City Hall, as was Obama chief of staff Rahm Emanuel. David Axelrod was Daley's political adviser. First lady Michelle Obama worked a stint at City Hall.
The Chicagoans have replaced the Texans in the White House.
In Washington, the relationships among the key players in government are subject to speculation and fascination over whether there is a "Chicago way" in the six-month-old Obama White House. There is a romanticized notion of Machine politics in the air here, though only remnants of it still exist in Chicago.
I've wisecracked that there are so many Chicagoans in the Obama administration, it's like covering the 51st Ward. Obama has swept into office with him dozens of Chicagoans, in all kinds of jobs.
August 4, 2009
WASHINGTON. D.C. – Following reports that White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel has been orchestrating an effort to intimidate members of Congress and Governors who raise legitimate concerns regarding the effectiveness of the stimulus, House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform Ranking Member Darrell Issa (R-CA) sent a letter to Emanuel saying “While this type of scare tactic may work In Chicago, it will not work to intimidate me or other Members of the United States Congress.”
“I and others have dared to bring these facts to the attention of President Obama, the Congress and the American people,” Issa wrote. “You’ve unfortunately reacted by once again resorting to the playbook of the Chicago political machine.”
“At what point do you believe your practice of Chicago-style politics violates a public official’s right to speak out in favor of alternative policies,” Issa asks.