Obama needs to clear air, right the ship
There is a scene in Monty Python & The Holy Grail where a group of outraged peasants, desperate to scapegoat someone for their lot in life, eagerly produce an unfortunate young woman to the local authorities, proclaiming her to be a witch.
"How do you know she's a witch?" asks the magistrate?
"Well, she LOOKS LIKE ONE!" bellows the crowd!
Following the unfolding saga of Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich, I was frankly surprised that it took as long as it did. But sure enough, it wasn't long before the angry mob hit the streets with their pitchforks and torches, trying desperately to link the Gov. to President-elect Obama.
The logic, if you will, assumes that since Obama and many of his inner circle are from Illinois, and Chicago in particular (the city that has admittedly cornered the market on shady politics), that somehow, Obama's staff, and maybe even Obama himself are knee-deep in Blagojevich's reprehensible "pay-to-play" schemes.
In a nutshell - Senator Obama's seat will soon be vacant, and as Governor of Illinois, Blagojevich has the power to appoint someone to fill that Senate seat for the remainder of the term. For those still unfamiliar with the case, Blagojevich was arrested by Federal authorities on charges that he sought to trade the Senate appointment for cash, favors, or a great deal of both. Blagojevich, perhaps not the brightest bulb on the string, had already been under Federal investigation for other matters when he hatched his latest alleged brainstorm.
Blagojevich's legal woes, compounded with the impending sentencing of Tony Rezko, another Chicago back-door man previously linked to Obama during the Presidential campaign, has some quarters asking the ever popular question - "Just what didn't Obama know, and when did he not know it?"
Blagojevich, Team Blue, was of course going to appoint another Democrat to fill the senate vacancy. At issue is whether or not Obama or anyone on his staff had any dealings with Blagojevich to influence his choice. Amusingly, the Obama camp has claimed that their own "internal investigation' clears anyone on their team from any inappropriate behavior. What did you expect? This carries about as much weight as when the McCain campaign's internal investigation cleared Gov. Palin of any wrongdoing in the alleged "Troopergate" brouhaha.
Particular attention has been focused on Rahm Emmanuel, Obama's designated Chief of Staff. While Obama touted himself as the candidate of change, Emmanuel is the classic Washington "Insider," having also served as a fund-raiser for and chief advisor to President Clinton, and is infamous for his short-temper and Machiavellian tactics to get what he wants. There is allegedly some record, collected on wiretaps, on conversations between Emmanuel and Blagojevich, the contents of which have yet to be fully disclosed. Emmanuel himself has refused to answer questions on the topic, a red light in and of itself.
One item going in Obama's favor is the fact that Blagojevich has complained (again, on wiretap) that he was looking for favors from the Obama camp in return for filling the seat with the "right" person, but was not getting good enough offers in return. Even conservative host Sean Hannity admitted that this would seem to exonerate Obama. But it does beg the question - who exactly was Blagojevich talking to, if not Obama or Emmanuel?
This scandal is just beginning to unfold, and I think we will see a lot more big names come into play in the days ahead. My take - even if Emmanuel did not actually do anything illegal or untoward, Obama does not need this kind of scandal in his administration before even taking the oath of office. He could instead follow through on his promise to indeed be a candidate of "change," and jettison the old-guard Emmanuel and anyone else on his staff that may have been up to no good.