After viewing a recent McCain campaign YouTube video, an
unsuspecting viewer might walk away thinking Chicago's two biggest
Latino neighborhoods -- Pilsen and Little Village -- are hotbeds of anti-Obama sentiment. The
six-minute "documentary," titled "...
After viewing a recent McCain campaign YouTube video, an unsuspecting viewer might walk away thinking Chicago's two biggest Latino neighborhoods -- Pilsen and Little Village -- are hotbeds of anti-Obama sentiment. The six-minute "documentary," titled "Where is Obama?", was paid for by McCain and has been viewed over 40,000 times. It's hosted by Angel Garcia, the Cook County chair of the Republican National Hispanic Assembly. Watch it:
the outset, Garcia tells viewers: "We'll go to 26th Street -- La
Villita. We'll go to 18th St. -- Pilsen. And we'll talk to people
that live there -- have lived there their whole life. We'll talk to
voters. And we'll talk to them about what Barack Obama has done for
the Latino community."
While Garcia doesn't identify any of his unanimously critical interviewees, we recognized one: Ramiro Gonzalez, the former Republican president of Cicero (he appears at about the three-minute mark). Apparently, he just happened to be strolling through the neighborhood that day. Imagine that ...
Moreover, Gonzales was the only participant with a specific gripe about Obama, saying: "He voted against redistricting a district that would support Latinos."
What Gonzales appears to be referring to here is Obama's "nay" vote on the Illinois Congressional Reapportionment Act in 2001. As an Illinois state senator, he was out of step with a majority of Latino and African American political leaders who signed off on the congressional remapping, which ultimately drew more Latinos into the 4th District, long represented by Rep. Luis Gutierrez . On May 25, 2001, Obama explained his opposition, noting that the new district lines had been "drawn specifically to protect incumbents." From his floor statement (PDF):
OBAMA: I do want to point out that when you look at the map, it is hard to suggest that this would be the ideal configuration to provide representation for the average constituent. If you look at [then-Democratic Rep.] Lane Evans' district -- what is currently Lane Evans' district and what it will become, for somebody a hundred miles away to have to travel along the Mississippi River, essentially, to get to the congressional district offices is not, what I would suggest, an ideal map for the purposes of our constituents. [...]
The Supreme Court has not said that such blatant gerrymandering is unconstitutional when race is not involved, but I would suggest that it raises questions as to why, in fact, our current Congressional Delegation would want to set up a map like this.
From this statement, it appears Obama's vote was not predicated on the way the map favored or disfavored certain minorities groups, but rather on how it was rigged to the advantage of incumbents. Indeed, then asked about the allegation that Obama's no vote was an intentional blow to Latino empowerment, Illinois House Majority Leader Barbara Flynn Currie called that argument a "stretch."