"I've long betrayed my fetish for ground-game organizing. In fact, I'm convinced that the only endorsements that matter are mayors precisely because they have a patronage machine they can deploy on behalf of their endorsed candidate."
I think this, plus the fact that he got his ass kicked so badly by Bobby Rush so early on in his political career, explains a lot about why a plausibly progressive candidate like Barack Obama lines up with the local machine every time. The Democratic party found itself in a bit of a fix, despite eight years of reasonable peace and prosperity under Bill Clinton (and might still be in a fix if it weren't for eight years of staggering Republican incompetence), and it's been suggested that part of the explanation is that neither Clinton nor anyone else did a particularly good job setting up an effective, long-term ground game. They thought competence would win the day! Really.*
Obama started as an organizer. He knows how the ground game works. And I think that might have something to do with his unwillingness, for better or worse and mostly for worse, to challenge local political structures. I mean, hell, Obama backed Dorothy Tillman, something which has caused progressive locals some bewilderment. I'm still trying to come to grips with that endorsement, and this is the best I've got so far.
*Yes, Karl Rove's trademark 50+1 strategy failed even worse, but he screwed up by totally disregarding competence. If the Republican White House and Congress hadn't managed to completely botch everything as badly as possible, it probably wouldn't have totally blown up in his face.