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Change requires going beyond the name on the ballot

By Frank Salvato
web posted March 17, 2008

There has been a tremendous amount of talk about "change" this presidential election cycle. Many have pointed out that change for the sake of change is seldom – if ever – a good thing. Unless explicit details of what is to be changed, why it needs changing and just how it is to be changed for the better are given in no uncertain terms, there exists too much chance for political and ideological malfeasance. To that extent, "change" is simply a Pavlovian buzz-word that sets the politically naïve to salivating.

If real change is to be instituted in federal government we must look beyond the names that adorn the ballots. Truth be told, each candidate is supported by an incredibly powerful set of operatives and handlers. While the names of the candidates may change over time – especially with regard to the Executive Branch – the names of the behind the scenes operatives and financiers almost always remain the same. This is true of all political parties, movements and organizations. If the American people truly want change, they have to expose, remove and then replace the political operatives behind the scenes. This is an incredibly difficult thing to achieve.

John McCain

John McCainGiven that the presumptive 2008 Republican presidential nominee, John McCain, began his political career in 1982, it is safe to say that he is comfortably ensconced within the Republican/Conservative mechanism in place in Washington DC and on the national level, though some would argue to what degree he – as an individual – is Conservative or Republican. RealClearPolitics contributor Robert Robb says, while McCain "trends towards conservative positions, he is not ‘anchored by the philosophical tenets of modern American conservatism.'"

Regardless of his Conservative bona fides, because McCain will be the standard-bearer of the GOP he will have the support of such Conservative inside-the-beltway operatives as Grover Norquist (whose wife, Kuwaiti-born Samah, served as the director of the Islamic Free Market Institute and public affairs specialist for Arab and Muslim outreach at the Bureau of Legislative and Public Affairs at USAID) and David Keene of the American Conservative Union.

Acquiescing to the notion that McCain is a political insider, a closer look at the two Democrat "agents of change" is warranted, especially where their chief operatives are concerned.

The Clinton Campaign

Hillary Clinton's campaign hierarchy is filled with many recognizable names, many "connected" to organizations that should alarm We the People. These are names that have existed in Liberal and Progressive politics for decades; Terry McAuliffe, Mark Penn and Harold Ickes to name but three.

Terry McAullife, of course, was the Democrat National Committee chairman from 2001-2005, national co-chairman of the 1996 Clinton-Gore Re-Election Committee and is a superdelegate to the 2008 Democratic National Convention. He currently serves as chairman of the Hillary Clinton for President Committee.

In addition to his Progressive-Liberal credentials, McAuliffe is no stranger to federal investigation, including his $18 million windfall from a $100,000 investment in the telecommunications company Global Crossing, that windfall occurring in just eighteen months. Global Crossing was later awarded a $400 million Pentagon contract after McAuliffe facilitated a presidential golf outing for Global Crossing's CEO, Gary Winnick, the result of that outing being a $1 million contribution to Bill Clinton's presidential library.

Mark Penn, described as Hillary's "strategic genius" (I guess genius is a relative term on the Left) has served as a fellow at the Progressive New Politics Institute (NPI), which instructs and aids Progressive-Leftist political candidates in tailoring their message and maximizing their electioneering dollars.

NPI is affiliated with the Hispanic Strategy Center, which supports blanket amnesty for all illegal aliens residing in the United States. The organization's founding hierarchy includes: Gina Glantz, a founding member of America Coming Together and former aide to the President of the Service Employees International Union; Cecile Richards, President of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America and former President of America Votes; and  Simon Rosenberg, President of the Progressive New Democratic Network. Rosenberg was also a former candidate for chairman of the Democratic National Committee.

Harold Ickes is working with the Clinton campaign as a political strategist. Ickes is the co-founder and unofficial director of the Democrat Shadow Party, a nationwide network of unions, non-profit organizations, activist groups and "think tanks" whose agendas are ideologically Progressive-Left and which campaign and advocate for the election of Progressive Democrats in a quest to Socialize the nation.

Ickes facilitated the relationships between the architect of the Democrat Shadow Party and founder of the Open Society Institute, George Soros and activists Andrew Stern, Ellen R. Malcolm, Steven Rosenthal, Gina Glantz, Cecile Richards, and other leftwing Democrats seeking ways to circumvent McCain-Feingold's soft-money ban. Ickes worked closely with Soros to create the organizations that formed the Democrat Shadow Party's core: America Coming Together, America Votes, the Center for American Progress, the Media Fund and the Thunder Road Group, to name but a few.

In addition, the Clinton campaign is affiliated, in one form or another, with: Madeleine Albright, Sandy Berger, Wesley Clark, Vernon Jordan, and Steven Rattner.

The Obama Campaign

Barack Obama, although rising popularly to the top faster than his experience would justify, is no stranger to the political machine. Obama, a former Illinois House Representative and Senator, grew up under the tutelage of Chicago's Daley Machine, one of the most politically powerful organizations in the history of American politics. Chicago's Mayor, Richard M. Daley, has equaled – if not surpassed – the political power of his father, Richard J. Daley – the "Boss", who, during his tenure as the "godfather" of the Democrat Party, was the ultimate political "kingmaker."

Obama, who clandestinely removed a vehement anti-war speech from his website in the midst of the 2004 election cycle, proves, through his choice of campaign personnel – David Axelrod and Robert Malley, to name two) that "change," for all his rhetoric on its need, is nothing more than that Pavlovian buzz-word we mentioned earlier.

David Axelrod, who serves as Obama's media consultant, began his official political career when he joined US Senator Paul Simon's 1984 campaign as communications director. He was promoted for his prowess within weeks to co-campaign manager.

Axelrod is a longtime political strategist for Chicago's Richard M. Daley and fancies himself a 'specialist in urban politics'. Axelrod has consulted for: New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer's 2006 campaign (Oops!); Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick's 2006 campaign; John Edwards' 2004 bid for the Democratic Party's presidential nomination; and served as the chief political adviser for US Rep. Rahm Emanuel's 2006 mid-term congressional campaign. It should be noted that Emanuel is the chairman of the Democrat Congressional Campaign Committee.

Perhaps the most disturbing of Obama's operatives is Robert Malley. Malley serves as Obama's foreign policy advisor and is the Middle East and North Africa Program Director for the International Crisis Group (ICG), which receives funding from the Open Society Institute founded by George Soros. Prior to joining ICG, Malley served Bill Clinton's administration as Special Assistant for Arab-Israeli Affairs, as National Security Advisor Sandy Berger's Executive Assistant, and as the National Security Council's Director for Democracy, Human Rights and Humanitarian Affairs.

It is interesting to note that Malley – whose father, Simon Malley, a key figure in the Egyptian Communist Party, confidante of Yasser Arafat and a blazing anti-Semite – has penned numerous articles condemning Israel while exonerating the Palestinian Authority of any and all acts of violence and for breakdowns in peace negotiations in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. He is also in favor of the US abandoning its policy of isolating terror states and terrorist organizations, advocating for America to "reach out" to countries, organizations and individuals such as Syria, Hezbollah, Hamas, and Muqtada al-Sadr. Obama's camp plays down his influence over Middle Eastern policy in spite of Malley's official position as foreign policy advisor to the campaign.

The More Things Change the More They Stay the Same

We can see from a quasi-examination of just three of Hillary's main players and two of Barack Obama's that whether it's Hillary or Obama, these behind the scenes operatives and financiers are all cut from the same cloth. They are life-long political and ideological operatives who serve their organizations, their parties, their advocacy groups and their special interest groups above all. In fact, in most cases, the only reason they commit to a candidate at all is simply because the candidate's name will be on the ballot.

National politics – and to a lesser extent state politics on down – is always more about the organization that elects the office holder than it is the elected official. We all need to realize that "operatives" end up becoming cabinet members, executive staff members, advisors, appointees and nominees. These operatives – and through them their national organizations, parties, advocacy groups and special interest groups – wield a tremendous amount of power. To believe that a freshman US Senator from Illinois is going to "change" that is to be as naïve as it gets. ESR

Frank Salvato is the Executive Director and Director of Terrorism Research for Basics Project a non-profit, non-partisan, 501(C)(3) research and education initiative. His writing has been recognized by the US House International Relations Committee and the Japan Center for Conflict Prevention. His organization, Basics Project, partnered in producing the first ever national symposium series addressing the root causes of radical Islamist terrorism. He also serves as the managing editor for The New Media Journal. Mr. Salvato has appeared on The O'Reilly Factor on FOX News Channel and is the host of the NMJ Radio show broadcast global on NetTalkWorld global talk radio and broadcast live on BlogTalk Radio. He is a regular guest on The Right Balance with Greg Allen on the Accent Radio Network, syndicated on over 25 stations nationally and on The Captain's America Radio Show catering to the US Armed Forces around the world, as well as an occasional guests on radio programs across the country. His opinion-editorials are syndicated nationally and he is occasionally quoted in The Federalist. Mr. Salvato is available for public speaking engagements. He can be contacted at newmediajournal@comcast.net.

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