Everybody wants to know what kind of change Barack Obama has in store for America if he gets elected President of the United States. It is called, “Change Chicago Style”. Here is an illustration, a little portrait to show that Barack Obama is just your average Chicago politician.
So fast forward to an imaginary world, you wake up, it is November 6, 2008 and Barack Obama has just been elected President. We have two people who would like to work for the government. One of them (we shall label them Person A) is among the best and the brightest, top of his or her class, worked their tail off to make it, yet they have zero political connections. Person A believes now that the Bush administration is over with, the most qualified will be hired, not who is most connected. Person A would have no reason to think any different, that is all Person A has heard in the media, Person A believes that Obama is a new kind of politician.
Next in line is Person X, Person X has a decent resume, not as good as Person A but Person X went to school with Barack Obama and more importantly, played basketball with him. Person X knows he will get the job, he knows that Obama practiced politics, “The Chicago Way”, check out Sean Connery in “The Untouchables” to learn what that is all about.
Alas the above is not some imaginary world, Person X is real and his name is Dr. Eric Whitaker, a man who got a job in Chicago politics because he once played basketball with Barack Obama:
Whitaker was named director of the state department of Public Health after Obama recommended him to his friend Tony Rezko, who was screening applicants for top state posts for Gov. Rod Blagojevich. Rezko was later convicted of mail fraud for influence-peddling in the Blagojevich administration. Whitaker and Obama were never implicated in the case.
Here’s what Obama told the Sun-Times when asked about people he recommended to Rezko for state posts:
“I think we submitted just a list of people that were mostly, you know, some of them were people who’d sent us resumes in the past or other people we thought we might be interested but they weren’t people who were connected to our political organization in any meaningful way. Or they weren’t people I knew particularly well. The one exception I do remember talking to Tony about was Dr. Eric Whitaker, who was a longtime friend of mine from Harvard. He and I played basketball together when he was getting his masters in public health at Harvard, while was at law school there. He had expressed an interest in that job. He did contact me, or Tony contacted me, and I gave him a glowing recommendation because I thought he was outstanding.”
After leaving the state post, Whitaker served as executive vice president for strategic affiliations and associate dean for community-based research at the University of Chicago Medical Center, where Michelle Obama was also a vice-president.
Of course to be fair the above Tony Rezko is not the Tony Rezko Obama thought he knew.