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The friends of Barack Obama

Among Barack Obama’s most intimate spiritual mentors and closest friends are Jeremiah Wright, Michael Pfleger, and Tony Rezko. He has known each of them for more than fifteen years. Over the past few weeks, Obama has made public statements suggesting that over the years he failed to discern the offensive qualities that have made them notorious. He somehow really didn’t know them very well.

The Chicago Tribune interviewed Obama about Rezko this past March. In the interview Obama admitted that Rezko had raised more money for him than had been previously known (as much as $250,000) for the first three offices he sought. As late as 2005 when Rezko was already under investigation, Rezko purchased the lot adjoining the house the Obamas purchased on the same day. Rather, Rita Rezko purchased the lot: “Rezko’s wife, Rita Rezko, bought the side lot for $625,000. A $37,000- a-year Cook County employee, she secured a $500,000 mortgage from Mutual Bank of Harvey.”

Obama bought his house for $300,000 less than the asking price when Rezko bought the adjoining lot for the asking price. “Frankly I don’t think he was doing me a favor,” Obama said. “There was simply no connection between our purchase of the house, the price of the house and the purchase of the lot.” After the reports of Rezko’s questionable political dealings first emerged in 2005, the Tribune reports, Obama said he asked Rezko about them. Rezko assured him there was nothing wrong. “My instinct was to believe him,” he said.

Yesterday Rezko was convicted in federal court on 16 felony corruption counts including fraud, money laundering and abetting bribery. Obama’s comment on Rezko’s conviction reaches a new height of absurdity:

I’m saddened by today’s verdict. This isn’t the Tony Rezko I knew, but now he has been convicted by a jury on multiple charges that once again shine a spotlight on the need for reform. I encourage the General Assembly to take whatever steps are necessary to prevent these kinds of abuses in the future.

The extravagant corruption involved in the Rezko case extends to the office of the Illinois governor. The behavior in issue is already illegal. The needed reform that “once again” moves into the spotlight is the reform of Obama’s friends, and of Obama’s alleged failure to perceive their character.

UPDATE: NR’s Stephen Spruiell fills in the story in “Rezko: Guilty.”

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