In his successful bid for the White House, Barack Obama promised “throughout the campaign” (to borrow one of his expressions) to be a new kind of politician, more transparent than the then-incumbent. He would post each bill that lands on his desk online so that we the people would have “five days to look” at it before he signed it. And he assured us that he had “done more than any other candidate in this race to take on lobbyists“:
They have not funded my campaign, they will not run my White House, and they will not drown out the voices of the American people when I am president.
His campaign promises notwithstanding, he has not been more transparent than his predecessor nor has he excluded lobbyists from his Administration. Within days of taking office, he had already broken the promise to post bills online. By April 9, Jim Harper had found, “Of the eleven bills President Obama has signed, only six have been posted on Whitehouse.gov. None have been posted for a full five days after presentment from Congress.”
In her book, Culture of Corruption: Obama and His Team of Tax Cheats, Crooks, and Cronies, blogress Michelle Malkin shows that despite Obama’s pledge, lobbyists are running rampant in Obama’s White House, having “made seventeen exceptions ot his no-lobbyist rule” just in the first two weeks of his Administration. It’s not just lobbyists. Numerous other Administration officials have have failed to pay their taxes or worked closely with corrupt individuals and associations. It almost seems as if the only members of the President’s cabinet without ethics problems are Education Secretary Arne Duncan, VA Secretary Eric Shinseki and Defense Secretary Robert Gates, a Bush Administration holdover.
In short, the candidate who ran against Washington has staffed his White House with Washington insiders, with a cabinet made up mostly of longtime denizens of the nation’s capitol.
Any many of those note from Washington have political roots in the machine politics of Chicago, even his wife, whose father was a cog in the Daley machine. Mrs. Obama has learned from her father’s patron; her salary “nearly tripled” right after her husband was elected to the United States Senate in 2004, a cost the University of Chicago Medical Center might have better have been able to defray with a federal earmark he helped secure.
And like many who cut their teeth in Chicago politics, Michelle Obama had numerous shady associations as did her husband’s other Chicago cronies, including Valerie Jarrett and Rahm Emanuel. Both worked closely with since-mpeached Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich, the latter elected in 2002 to Blagojevich’s House seat. Emanuel pocketed at least $100,000 for Freddie Mac stock he received when serving on the Board of that government-sponsored enterprise (GSE). While the GSE cooked its books during Emanuel’s tenure, the Admnistration’ transparency pledges notwithstanding, “White House officials,” Malkin reminds us “refused to fulfill the [Chicago Tribune‘s] request for public documents related [to] Emanuel’s tenure as a Freddie Mac director.”
In addition to the absence of transparency, Malkin also discusses the proliferation of “czars,” new posts which do not require Senate confirmation, but give various individuals “broad powers beyond the reach of congressional accountability.”
She details the numerous Administration officials and nominees who had failed to pay their taxes, notes Labor Secretary Hilda Solis’s cozy relationships with unions and devotes an entire chapter to Obama’s own ties the Service Employees International Union (SEIU). That union is now providing money and muscle to Obama’s push to increase government control over our health care system, helping add to his astroturf army. During the campaign, the union raised additional money to help elect the Democrat by “slapping an extra $6 per-member fee of top of regular dues payments,” leading Malkin to ask:
What major private company could escape scrutiny or criticism for forcing all of its employees to subsidize its political activities, whether they agreed with them or not? And what does it say about Obama’s credibility as a reformer that he massive infusion of union dues into his campaign treasury didn’t trouble him in the least?
Malkin also devotes a chapter to the close ties between Obama, his campaign operation and ACORN as well as one (just one) to the Clintons’ many shady dealings and disclosure problems.
On the whole, it’s a good book, with detailed information (the book includes 75 pages of footnotes) about the corrupt officials surrounding President Obama. At times, Malkin’s rhetoric is bit overheated, with some passages seeming more like blog posts than parts of a larger narrative. Indeed, some of the language, like the subhead on Mrs. Clinton, “Liar, Liar, Pantsuit on Fire,” seems better suited for a blog than a book. She would have done well to excise such expressions.
And at time, she quotes too extensively from her sources. When you read the book (as I encourage you to do), I would recommend skimming many of the overlong block quotes.
All all that said, Michelle Malkin has done her homework and documented her criticisms. This book is an invaluable resource, showing the hypocrisy at the heart of the Obama Administration. That Democrat won election to the highest office in the land, promising to change “the ways of Washington.” But, as Malkin notes, “no one, not even Barack Obama, can drain a swamp by flooding it.”