“You don’t get through Chicago like Barack Obama did unless you know how to avoid people like that”

So says Obama’s political mentor Abner Mikva, a former congressman and federal appeals court judge. Mikva is referring, of course, to Rod Blagojevich. The quote is from a piece in the Washington Post by Obama apologist Eli Saslow.

But Obama did not avoid people like Blogojevich, nor did he avoid Blagojevich himself. Saslow’s piece is called “Obama Worked to Distance Self From Blagojevich Early On.” Distancing yourself from someone is not the same thing as avoiding him.

Even Saslow has to admit that Obama played ball with Blagojevich, serving Blago’s 2002 campaign for governor as “an informal adviser.” Saslow describes their relationship while Obama was in the state Senate as an “awkward, arranged marriage.” So Obama did not avoid Blagojevich, or even distance himself from the governor while they were both engaged in Illinois politics. At best, Obama felt uncomfortable with having to play ball with Blago.

Mikva’s quote would be more accurate if he had said “you don’t get through Chicago politics if you avoid people like that.” And the people “like that” include not only Blagojevich, but also Tony Rezko and (though cut from different cloth) Jeremiah Wright and Bill Ayers.

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