A while back I was chastised by a reader for ignoring Barack Obama’s willingness to kowtow to the local machine. I argued, more or less, that anyone who’s going to be president in this country is going to have to sacrifice some of his or her progressive bona fides. As objectionable as Mayor Daley is to some, he’s a powerful and arguably beloved leader, so staying on his good side might be worth the tradeoff for someone with Obama’s ambitions.

But I have to say I’m mystified at his endorsement of Dorothy Tillman.

Over at The Private Intellectual (a blog hosted by a friend to which I have occasionally contributed), Benjamin Dueholm has a spirited and totally perplexed reaction. It’s one that I think will be representative for the admittedly small number of progressive voters who want to want Obama but are familiar with Tillman’s record, such as her involvement with the Harold Washington Cultural Center boondoggle and the troubled 47th and King Drive redevelopment:

“So my gradual drift towards joining up with the Obama camp has been delayed once more. It’s hard to explain to non-locals why I’m so angry at him, and I don’t expect anyone who lives in a place with more or less functioning representational government (e.g., Wisconsin) to understand the extent to which Chicago is a banana republic. In retrospect, it was naive of me to imagine that Obama could have helped us, but I don’t think it was too much to expect him not to do any harm.”

Like me, he’s wondering how endorsing Tillman, as opposed to just staying mum, does him any good. Marc Ambinder at the National Journal suggests it’s all about loyalty, since Tillman backed Obama against Blair Hull in 2004. Either way, it doesn’t seem to have benefited her much; as of this writing she’s down seven points with 70% reporting.

Update: Unofficial results show Tillman didn’t narrow the gap at all. But she’s not conceding yet.