Last week's mini-revolt notwithstanding, the real story coming out of the Windy City today is not that Gov. Blago, having been charged with epic amounts of cartoonishly crude bribery, makes Don Corleone sound like Little Lord Fauntleroy. As Roger Kimball points out:
The real news was that BARACK OBAMA HAD NOTHING TO DO WITH IT [emphasis in the original].
To be sure, there is no complaint against the president-elect. But in the same spirit of imagining that John McCain had been "palling around with a terrorist," Kimball writes:
Here’s a little thought experiment with which to while away an idle moment. What if John McCain had won the election, and what if the governor of Arizona were not Janet Napolitano, a Democrat, but some Republican pol? And what if the governor had just been arrested on the slate of corruption charges facing Rod Blagojevich? And let’s say that McCain, when confronted with news of the scandal, said (as did Obama yesterday) “I had no contact with the governor or his office and so we were not, I was not aware of what was happening,” but that McCain’s campaign manager, when asked whether the President Elect would have a role in choosing his successor in the Senate, said (as did David Axlerod, Obama’s campaign manager) “I know he’s talked to the governor and there are a whole range of names many of which have surfaced, and I think he has a fondness for a lot of them.”
Fix that scenario in your mind’s eye and then ask yourself how the legacy media would react. Would NPR instantly fall over itself to assure everyone that Obama was in NO WAY connected with the scandal? Would The New York Times offer similar assurances and even go so far as to suggest that an ethics bill Obama supported helped bring about the governor’s downfall? Would the campaign manager’s insistence that he had “misspoke” simply be digested and accepted by most of the MSM?
An honorable exception to this chorus of preemptive exoneration is the invaluable Jack Tapper over at ABC news. Tapper doesn’t accuse Obama of anything. Indeed, he is careful to say that “There are no allegations that President-elect Obama or anyone close to him had anything to do with any of the crimes Gov. Blagojevich is accused of having committed.” But Tapper also points out that Obama’s statement that he “had no contact with the governor or his office” must be modified by the many ways in which he did have contact with the governor and his office. For example, Tapper reports on a 2002 TV interview with Jeff Berkowitz in which Obama says that
“Right now, my main focus is to make sure that we elect Rod Blagojevich as Governor, we…”
“You working hard for Rod?” interrupted Berkowitz.
“You betcha,” said Obama.
“Hot Rod?” asked the host.
“That’s exactly right,” Obama said.
By 2006, complaints about Blagojevich’s ethics violations were piling up, but that did not prevent Obama from campaigning for governor in August, 2006: “We’ve got a governor in Rod Blagojevich who has delivered consistently on behalf of the people of Illinois,” Obama said at one event.
As I say, I have no reason to believe that Obama was involved in Rod Blagojevich’s campaign of corruption. Still, although I know that even-handedness is beyond the MSM, it would be nice to think that its representatives would approach the story with at least a modicum of journalistic curiosity.
Regardless of whether our media continue to serve Obama as praetorian guard or choose to serve the cause of the the democratic experiment, we can all see there is at least a little more evidence of the unsavory nature of the political company President-Elect Obama has kept.
More possible yuck here.
Jonathan Martin and Ben Smith of Politico write:
One prominent Chicago Democrat close to many of those named in the indictment suggested the risk for Obama is “Whitewater-type exposure.” That was a reference to an Arkansas real estate deal that produced a series lengthy and highly intrusive investigations in the 1990s that never proved illegality by the Clintons.
What this Democrat meant with his analogy—which on the facts so far seems a bit premature—was that Obama could suffer by being in the proximity of a back-scratching and deal-making culture, even if he was mostly a bystander. “What will splatter on to Obama is he is to some degree a product of this culture, and he has never entirely stood against it,” said the Democrat, who wanted anonymity for fear of antagonizing the president-elect.
Indeed, at a minimum it will be hard for a transition team that wants to shine a light on their plans to clean up Washington if the steaming compost pile of Illinois politics— and its florid tradition of bribes, extortion, and payback—is in the news.
Nice, vivid language, boys.
Hang on--we may be on the brink of coining a new term of political art. Whitewater Effect, anyone?