• This is a rush transcript from "The Journal Editorial Report," March 3, 2007.

    PAUL GIGOT, HOST: This week on the "Journal Editorial Report," he's shaken up the Democratic field. And he's gaining on Hillary Clinton in the polls. From his days in the Illinois senate, to the rough and tumble of presidential politics, we'll take an up close look at candidate Barack Obama.

    Plus, a guilty verdict in the Scooter Libby trial puts President Bush in the hot seat. Will he pardon the former vice presidential aide? And what are the political consequences it if he does?

    Our panel weighs in after these headlines.


    GIGOT: Welcome to the "Journal Editorial Report." I'm Paul Gigot.

    A virtual unknown when he was elected to the United States Senate in 2004, Barack Obama has quickly cultivated a star following that has catapulted him to early and unexpected preeminence in a Democratic field filled with far more seasoned candidates.

    Just who is this political newcomer? And what do his days in the Illinois State Senate tell us about the kind of president he would be?

    Joining me now with some home town perspective is Chicago Tribune columnist John Kass.

    John Kass, welcome to the program. Good to have you here.

    JOHN KASS, COLUMNIST, CHICAGO TRIBUNE: Thanks for having me.

    GIGOT: You followed Obama. He's had this extraordinary rise. What is the most important aspect of Obama's character or political philosophy you think Americans should know as a potential president?

    KASS: He talks about changing the nature of our politics. He talks about ethics and how important that is. And at the same time, he is back here in Chicago by the political machine, the Daley machine, which has its own issues with federal grand injuries.

    GIGOT: Well, what is...

    KASS: So there is a disconnect between what America wants in a candidate. I think it is the whole Camelot thing that people want to revisit and seek in terms of Mr. Obama, and the nature of Chicago politics which is not Camelot by any stretch of the imagination.

    GIGOT: Having lived in Chicago, I can agree with you on that. When you talk about the Daley machine and say that Obama comes out of that machine. What do you mean? And how does it work? Is it a patronage machine, a typical patronage machine? What does it mean he is a product of that politics?

    KASS: He separates himself from it rhetorically, positioning himself as an independent Democrat.

    But in Illinois, as you know from your time here, the state senate is basically run by people who tell the other senators what to do. And they generally fall into line.

    He has done some things in terms of ethics that have separated him from the rest of the pack. He has talked about ethics. He has invoked reform in his speeches.

    But at the same time, the machine in Chicago is about patronages, as we found out recently. Patrick Fitzgerald the special prosecutor in the Libby case successfully prosecuted top members of the Daley administration for building illegal patronage armies by the thousands.