Wednesday, December 10, 2008

The Untouchables

The Blagojevich corruption scandal is so completely over-the-top as to be almost comical. I can’t help but wonder if Blago didn’t do this on purpose. Maybe he knew he was about to get nailed for some other activities and decided to go out with a bang.
The only other explanation is that he is completely nuts.
I mean, the guy is a lawyer, a former prosecutor, who knew very well that he was already under investigation by the Feds. He should have known that his phones were already tapped. Did he think that he was too big, too powerful, too important to get nailed? How so? His immediate predecessor as governor is currently sitting in jail!
There is no rational explanation for what Blago did. But one thing it does do is present a very clear contrast with the Obama transition team.
Despite Republicans’ pathetic attempts to smear Obama with this mess, the president-elect is coming out of this smelling like a rose.
Blago clearly wanted to involve the president-elect in his pay-to-play scheme, but Obama wasn’t cooperating. Blago was upset that the only thing the Obama team was offering him in return for choosing their favored Senate candidate was “their appreciation.” So he told them to go Cheney themselves. Which is probably why Valerie Jarrett’s name was rather abruptly withdrawn from consideration some weeks ago.
So Obama and his team could not be touched. And now it looks as if Obama’s recent push for ethics reform in Illinois may have been the key to Blago’s downfall.

Mr. Obama placed the call to his political mentor, Emil Jones Jr., president of the Illinois Senate. Mr. Jones was a critic of the legislation, which sought to curb the influence of money in politics, as was Mr. Blagojevich, who had vetoed it. But after the call from Mr. Obama, the Senate overrode the veto, prompting the governor to press state contractors for campaign contributions before the law’s restrictions could take effect on Jan. 1, prosecutors say...
Mr. Obama used leverage that he had seldom employed — publicly, anyway — and strongly urged Mr. Jones to bypass Mr. Blagojevich and approve the ethics bill, banning the so-called pay-for-play system of influence peddling in Illinois...Mr. Obama’s intervention deepened a rift between him and Mr. Blagojevich that had been growing for some time.

There will no doubt be many more people who will try to tempt Obama to do things that would not look good in the light of day. But I think this is just one of many examples we will see that he will be scrupulous in avoiding them. Having been burned once over the comparatively innocuous Rezco land swap, I don’t think Obama is going to allow himself to make that kind of mistake again.

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