Barack Obama is not known for his loyalty to old allies. Like most successful politicians, he’s there when he needs you.
Throughout Obama’s rise to the presidency, he would drop supporters by telling them to stop calling his cell phone and start calling his people.
“There were a number of people who worked for Barack in the early days, then found Barack was working with a different group of people,” one old Obama supporter put it. “They felt kind of squeezed out.”
Now Alexi Giannoulias is finding out what it’s feels like to get squeezed out.
In 2006, Obama gave his old basketball buddy a hug in a TV ad. In 2010, Obama doesn’t want to be seen with Giannoulias when he comes home to Illinois. When Obama visits Quincy on Wednesday, Giannoulias won’t be there.
But Dick Durbin needs Giannoulias.
Durbin, who is chairman of Giannoulias’s campaign, wants to be Senate Majority Leader if Harry Reid loses his re-election bid in Nevada, which is looking likely. First, he’ll need a Senate majority, which Giannoulias can help provide. Then, he’ll need to beat back a challenge from Charles Schumer, the senator from Wall Street, who can promise his colleagues more financial help. Giannoulias can help Durbin there, too.
That’s why Durbin has been begging the White House to help Giannoulias. So far, all he’s gotten is “the president intends to help Democratic candidates in Illinois up and down the ballot.”
How exactly isn’t clear, especially when Obama didn’t even tell Giannoulias’s campaign he’d be coming to Quincy. That explains Giannoulias’s statement that an appearance with Obama “wasn’t on our schedule.”
Don’t keep your calendar open, Alexi. Obama needed your family’s banking fortune and your connections to the Greek community when he was running for the U.S. Senate. Now, the bank is gone, due to bad loans, and Obama doesn’t want to be seen helping its former chief loan officer get into the Senate himself.
Politicians use people, and then move on. Giannoulias is in the same situation as hundreds of others Obama worked with as a community organizer, a lawyer, a state senator or a U.S. Senator -- former campaign managers and fundraisers who could never get a call through to the White House. He’ll just have to be satisfied that he helped elect the first black president, because that’s all he’s going to get out of his relationship with Obama now.