I’ve been traveling and immersed in work for a while, and have just emerged to news of Governor Blagojevich’s stunning downfall. The story prompts any number of questions, beginning with: how does a profane, corrupt moron become governor of one of our largest states?
Public interest will center, naturally, on the fact that it was Barack Obama’s Senate seat that Blagojevich allegedly tried to sell. I don’t think for a moment that Obama had anything to do with it, of course, for many reasons. Still, Obama’s proximity to the scandal highlights a basic fact about his career: Obama’s political career began, and was lived until very recently, in the very dirty pond of Chicago politics. It is quite remarkable that Obama has been able to emerge not only intact but ostensibly pristine from that political swamp. In part, this is because his history and associations have been too little scrutinized.
Today, Obama answered just one question, in his trademark stammer. He managed to get out these words: “I had no contact with the governor or his office and so we were not, I was not aware of what was happening.”
But, as Jake Tapper points out, Obama’s claim to have kept aloof from the Senate selection process was contradicted two weeks ago by his spokesman David Axelrod, who said:
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.
So already Obama has been caught in a contradiction.
Beyond that, Obama has been a loyal soldier in the Democrats’ corrupt Cook County machine. Obama’s first statewide campaign was as an adviser to Blagojevich. He endorsed Blagojevich for re-election and offered to campaign for him. In August 2006, the Associated Press quoted Obama saying, “We’ve got a governor in Rod Blagojevich who has delivered consistently on behalf of the people of Illinois.”
No doubt Obama would now say that the Rod Blagojevich who tried to sell his vacant Senate seat “isn’t the Rod Blagojevich I knew.” Maybe it’s time to take notice of the fact that Barack Obama is either 1) an astonishingly poor judge of character, or 2) a politician who swims comfortably and successfully in what must be America’s most corrupt pond. This is, apparently, the “change” that millions of Americans voted for.
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