It's summertime. In a normal year that would mean overeager interns from the Ivy League are overrunning offices all along the Northeast corridor. But this is an election year and the Obama campaign is based in Chicago, so these students have spread their wings and ventured to the Midwest. They're sucking down coffee and sucking up space. They're full of ideas and self-regard, which is to say, they're mostly full of crap. Anyone who has worked with such a person -- or has been one -- knows their pathetic little efforts at clamoring for power are mostly benign. I mean, what harm can really be done when your only responsibility is gophering papers and photocopying? Sources within the Obama campaign are now claiming, however, the Ivy kiddos pose a genuine threat to Obama's coming to be. And not just because everyone finds their Nantucket reds distracting. These students are interfering with operations and costing the campaign actual votes on the ground.
[C]ampaign employees have had it up to their ears with overly ambitious Ivy League volunteers who have been causing problems for the campaign by putting their individual ambitions over the larger goals of the campaign as a movement. This employee and fellow South Side native has shared with me that the campaign is getting a sense that the attitudes of dedicated Ivy League volunteers had, over the course of the primary, given Republicans enough stories to run with the ‘elitist' trope in the general election. In Pennsylvania, where the campaign lost big time to Hillary due to pushy Penn students stoking conflict with long-time city activists, the Obama campaign has instituted a training that teaches volunteers how to be sensitive to existing communities. Senator Obama himself feels Ivy League graduates have held sway over Washington too long and even though he attended Harvard and Columbia, if elected, he intends to do very little hiring from the Ivies.
Blaming the entire Ivy League for the actions of the University of Pennsylvania is like blaming all of Los Angeles for Britney Spears. As far as what Obama allegedly told this "South Side native" about White House hiring policies, he should keep in mind the fact that Obama has sought the affirmation of Ivy League folk -- and to become one of them -- even as he struggles with issues of racial identity. How else to explain Obama's decision to transfer to Columbia after two years at Occidental College? Before Obama, Occidental's most famous alum was Ben Affleck, and he didn't graduate either.
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