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Editor’s note: Michael Ackley’s columns may include satire and parody based on current events, and thus mix fact with fiction. He assumes informed readers will be able to tell which is which.
It’s 1992, and Public Allies Chicago is looking for a “founding executive director.” Staff member Amy Handleman talks with board member Barack Obama:
Handleman: It’s really important that we get a top-notch executive to lead Public Allies Chicago.
Obama: You’re absolutely right. Why don’t you interview my wife, Michelle?
Handleman: Barack! You’re a director. Isn’t recommending your wife a conflict of interest?
Obama: Hey, I’m an attorney – Harvard Law, you know. Would I steer you wrong?
Handleman: But, a member of your immediate family …
Obama: Listen. Here I am, community organizing when I could be making millions at one of the big, Wall Street law firms – if any of them would have me. An altruist like me would never do anything remotely unethical.
Handleman: Well, I guess it’s all right if you say so. Do you think she’d be interested?
Obama: Here’s her resume.
It certainly could have gone that way. Consider the following paragraphs from an article in the Chronicle of Philanthropy, posted on the Public Allies website:
When Vanessa Kirsch was working in the early 1990s to create a new organization to train young people for public service, she recalls, people kept telling her: “There’s this guy in Chicago; you’ve got to meet with him.”
That “guy” was a civil-rights lawyer and community organizer named Barack Obama – the future U.S. senator and Democratic presidential contender, who ended up playing a critical role in the group that Ms. Kirsch co-founded, Public Allies.
Mr. Obama attended a conference that laid the groundwork for Public Allies, and he joined the group’s founding board. When Public Allies, which started operating in Washington, decided to open an office in Chicago, Ms. Kirsch says, Mr. Obama suggested the group interview his wife, Michelle. (our emphasis)
This isn’t borderline conflict of interest; it’s way over the line. And, Barack: Your “families are off limits” rule doesn’t apply in this case. It’s about you. Investors Business Daily carried a good editorial on Public Allies, but what is really needed is aggressive reporting.
Oh, boo hoo: Meredith Vierra of NBC’s “Today” told John McCain’s campaign manager that GOP criticism of the media “sounds like you’re trying to shut us up.” File under “can dish it out but can’t take it.”
Also on a crying jag: community organizers. The Associated Press dug up some who expressed their anger at Republican digs at Barack Obama’s experience.
“Organizers,” said the article, “describe their work as identifying potential leaders in a community and then helping those people tackle local problems. They research possible solutions, teach people how to figure out who can help and how to explain their concerns, then try to pressure the powerful into taking some action.”
Wow! It’s just like the War on Poverty 40 years ago. Back then, the idea that government would finance social change was laughable. However, the boring from within has been going on for a long time, and if Obama wins the presidency, it will be ramped up considerably.
Another oldie but goodie: Equal pay for equal work. Obama has been getting big cheers from women with this chestnut. It brings to mind the debates of a generation past, when secretaries tried to prove their work was as valuable as that of gardeners. (There is some equivalence between typing bureaucratic memos and spreading manure.)
But, Barack, the answer is the same now as it was then: If women want better status, let them get it through collective bargaining. You don’t hear women on auto assembly lines complaining they are paid less than men. They get the same union scale.
Drat! Yours truly got the nomenclature wrong on credit protection instruments. It should be credit-default swaps. I called them “flops,” which may be rather apt, anyway. As predicted, they’re making bad news. Look at Washington Mutual. The things also are a big part of the Fannie Mae/Freddie Mac story.