I’m not surprised that Senator Barack Obama endorsed Mayor Daley’s reelection. We’re used to the sight of erstwhile reformers scrambling to board the mayor’s gravy train before it leaves the station–look at Congressman Bobby Rush and new city clerk Miguel des Valles Miguel del Valle. I’m just a little surprised at the reason Obama gives.

“Even [Daley’s] detractors acknowledge that the city has been well-managed and has performed in all respects in ways that are the envy of a lot of other cities across the country,” Obama said at his press conference with the mayor yesterday.

Well managed? Daley’s public transportation system is literally falling apart even as it squanders millions on projects it doesn’t need and, in the case of the express lines to O’Hare and Midway, may never even use. Property taxes are skyrocketing as the city plays games of deception with its off-the-books TIF program. Just about every significant public works project–from the O’Hare expansion to the construction of Millennium Park to the Brown Line  renovation–has come in late and overbudget. About the only thing the city does right is clear the streets of snow–and there they overdo it, so fearful are they of repeating Mayor Michael Bilandic’s fatal mistake.

Actually, I don’t know why Obama even bothered. Sure, there’s a quid pro quo, but it’s not as if Daley has a choice: how would it look for the state’s top Democrat to back someone other than the state’s favorite son? And if Daley didn’t support Obama, so what? The mayor has no strings when it comes to national elections. He supported Al Gore in 2000 and did next to nothing for John Kerry in 2004; Gore and Kerry still did about the same in Chicago.

Now that I think about it, endorsing Daley was a boneheaded move. He gave it all away and got next to nothing in return.