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Obama impact *** UPDATED x1 - Obama says guv should resign ***

Wednesday, Dec 10, 2008 - Posted by Rich Miller

*** UPDATE *** Man, things are moving quickly today. With a hat-tip to a commenter, here’s the latest on this particular topic

President-elect Barack Obama is calling for the Illinois governor to resign.

Obama spokesman Robert Gibbs says the president-elect agrees with other prominent politicians in Illinois and elsewhere that “under the current circumstances, it is difficult for the governor to effectively do his job and serve the people of Illinois.”

He should’ve said that yesterday.

[ *** End of Update *** ]

* Gov. Blagojevich was caught on tape talking about appointing someone favorable to Barack Obama to the vacant US Senate seat…

“they’re not willing to give me anything except appreciation.”

That pretty much sums up the situation here. Obama has little to answer for.

* There are some problems, however

“I have not discussed the Senate seat with the governor at any time,” [Obama] said. “My strong belief is that it needed to be filled by somebody who is going to represent the people of Illinois and fight for them. And beyond that, I was focused on the transition.”

* That’s not what Obama’s chief strategist David Axelrod said several days ago

“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.”

* Axelrod was forced to backtrack yesterday…

“I was mistaken when I told an interviewer last month that the President-elect has spoken directly to Governor Blagojevich about the Senate vacancy. They did not then or at any time discuss the subject.”

First he said he knows, then he says he was mistaken. Not good.

* However, Patrick Fitzgerald seemed to back up the president-elect…

“We make no allegations that he [Obama] was aware of anything.”

* Another problem is Obama’s weak statement yesterday

“It is a sad day for Illinois. Beyond that, I don’t think it’s appropriate to comment.”

The whole state is freaking out and this is all he says?

* Republicans were quick to pounce

“President-elect Barack Obama’s comments on the matter are insufficient at best,” said Robert Duncan, chairman of the Republican National Committee. “Given the president-elect’s history of supporting and advising Gov. Blagojevich, he has a responsibility to speak out and fully address the issue.”

“The serious nature of the crimes listed by federal prosecutors raises questions about the interaction with Gov. Blagojevich, president-elect Obama and other high-ranking officials who will be working for the future president,” said Representative Eric Cantor of Virginia, the new GOP House whip.

* Jake Tapper takes a look back…

On the Chicago TV show "Public Affairs with Jeff Berkowitz" on June 27, 2002, state Sen. Obama said, "Right now, my main focus is to make sure that we elect Rod Blagojevich as Governor, we…"

"You working hard for Rod?" interrupted Berkowitz.

"You betcha," said Obama.

"Hot Rod?" asked the host.

"That’s exactly right," Obama said.

In 2004, then-Gov. Blagojevich enthusiastically endorsed Obama for the Senate seat after he won the nomination, and Obama endorsed Blagojevich for his 2006 re-election race in early 2005.

In the Summer of 2006, then-U.S. Sen. Obama backed Blagojevich even though there were serious questions at the time about Blago’s hiring practices.

Axelrod worked for Blagojevich during his first run for Congress, but has since not been close to the man.

* There is this tiny item as well, posted by somebody in comments…

This is flying around the internet in many forums. I want to know if there is truth this…

“Michelle Obama Is The “Specifically Named Individual” On Page 64 of The Affidavit Submitted by FBI”

Whatever. Here’s the quote from the complaint…

ROD BLAGOJEVICH stated that he needs to find a way to take the
“financial stress” off of his family and that his wife is as qualified or more qualified than another specifically named individual to sit on corporate boards.

Big whoop.

* This is a stretch, but I wouldn’t put it past the national media to pursue the angle…

One prominent Chicago Democrat close to many of those named in the indictment suggested the risk for Obama is “Whitewater-type exposure.” That was a reference to an Arkansas real estate deal that produced a series lengthy and highly intrusive investigations in the 1990s that never proved illegality by the Clintons.

What this Democrat meant with his analogy—which on the facts so far seems a bit premature—was that Obama could suffer by being in the proximity of a back-scratching and deal-making culture, even if he was mostly a bystander. “What will splatter on to Obama is he is to some degree a product of this culture, and he has never entirely stood against it,” said the Democrat, who wanted anonymity for fear of antagonizing the president-elect.

* Actually, the AP’s national desk has already picked up on the meme

President-elect Barack Obama hasn’t even stepped into office and already a scandal is threatening to dog him. Obama isn’t accused of anything.

But the fact that Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, a fellow Democrat, has been charged with trying to sell Obama’s now-vacant Senate post gives political opponents an opening to try to link him to the scandal.

A slew of questions remain. The investigation is still under way. And the ultimate impact on Obama is far from certain

* Clarence Page gets the last word

But from Chicago’s point of view, Obama and Blagojevich occupy two opposing worlds of Democratic politics that work together out of convenience. Obama launched his political career among the Hyde Park and lakefront liberals. Blago came straight out of what’s left of the old Bungalow Belt machine.

It is not uncommon to build a winning coalition in Illinois politics by making friends or, at least, neutralizing rivals.

Blagojevich’s troubles will test how well Obama kept his own hands clean on his way up, even as Blago was slipping down.


  1. - Vote Quimby! - Wednesday, Dec 10, 08 @ 11:20 am:

    Not that I believe he needs it, but some good that can come out of this mess is that Obama now MUST follow through on his promises of change. If he doesn’t, he risks being a one-and-done president. While Rod won election saying he was going to reform, Obama must now actually do the reforming or else his place in history will be merely a footnote. I hope he becomes one of our greatest presidents, and also hope some of that change trickles down to Illinois after the collateral damage recovers..

  2. - What? - Wednesday, Dec 10, 08 @ 11:25 am:

    The backtracking by Axelrod is bad. I think Obama would have been better off just saying, “Yeah, we’ve discussed the appointment with the Governor.” What would be wrong with discussing it, as long as there were no agreements to “reward” Blagojevich for appointing Obama’s favored candidate?

  3. - Pat collins - Wednesday, Dec 10, 08 @ 11:25 am:

    Remember how everyone was so up on CMB winning her Senate seat, and then she went off to Africa with her BF/something. Now, she actually did something silly, not illegal, but it deflated her “honeymoon”.

    Same thing here, nothing done wrong, but there is a lot of deflating going on, and for sure Axelrod just took a torpedo. May not sink, but sure won’t maneuver as swiftly or as well in the future.

    Obama is he is to some degree a product of this culture, and he has never entirely stood against it

    And there is his problem. Sin of omission, not commission.

  4. - Splitendz - Wednesday, Dec 10, 08 @ 11:25 am:

    Clarence Page: “Obama kept his own hands clean on his way up”
    Supporting the re-election of Blago when he was under federal investigation and remaining silent about the known corruption does not make one squeaky clean. Obama, like many, took the easy way out by remaining silent.
    Illinois is in the rear-view mirror for him, and has been since 2004. One had to practically beg for him to urge a break in the gridlock in Springfield. His willingness to sit on the sidelines and watch Illinois crumble is just as sad as the arrest of the Governor. The Rezkos and Senate Candidate #5’s give a bad name to honest public servants.

  5. - VanillaMan - Wednesday, Dec 10, 08 @ 11:26 am:

    ==But from Chicago’s point of view==

    Mr. Page is correct, but the view he is discussing has been thoroughly discredited across the country as of yesterday.

    Obama’s Chicago roots have been discussed here and most places for over a year. As one who doesn’t believe that Obama was the only virgin in the bordello, but someone who knew the activities and goings on upstairs, I have no reason to believe at this time that our President-Elect is in any way impacted legally by Blagojevich. And I will not accept rumor or speculation beyond that. If Mr. Obama is as savvy as he claims to be, he cannot expect us to believe he survived Chicago politics without having heard of Chicago politics.

    Just as Reverend Wright’s continued blatherings and future notoriety will chip away at Obama’s claim that he “never personally heard” of the good reverend’s diatribes; as Blagojevich’s administration and Chicago corruption cases are exposed, President Obama’s virginity claims to win his Office will be dismissed as well.

    But that is in the past as far as we know - and we should probably leave it there at this time.

  6. - Bill Baar - Wednesday, Dec 10, 08 @ 11:29 am:

    It’s the cover ups that Fitz gets you on.

    Obama needs to detail every conversation between the Gov and the transition staff asap.

  7. - Excessively rabid - Wednesday, Dec 10, 08 @ 11:29 am:

    I don’t think we’ll find anything too sleazy in Obama’s closet no matter how hard we look. My suspicion is that the urgency of the arrest is somehow connected with Rod trying to put the squeeze on clearly the WRONG person to coerce, Rahm Emanuel. Speculation of course.

  8. - Amy - Wednesday, Dec 10, 08 @ 11:36 am:

    P E B Obama just asked for GRod to resign. good thing. the Axelrod back off is fishy. there are more connects than they would like us to believe…..Wilhelm, Luis, Rezko (does anybody remember Rezko?). Kass was on tv and radio this am and last eve. he still things the Senate should have done an ethics review on the house purchase.

  9. - JonShibleyFan - Wednesday, Dec 10, 08 @ 11:37 am:

    I’d like fries with this big, fat nothingburger.

  10. - Anonymous - Wednesday, Dec 10, 08 @ 11:37 am:

    I realize this is an Illinois board, so the Illinois myopia can be expected, but really. I’ve lived in or worked in a number of states and they ALL have sleaziness and EVERY successful politician on the national stage has either been a product of it or co-existed with it. There are no “unknowing virgins”, to borrow VanillaMan’s expression, among the ranks of successful politicians anywhere in the higher ranks and to suggest that this is somehow unique here or “tars” Obama is being provincial, partisan or both.

  11. - wordslinger - Wednesday, Dec 10, 08 @ 11:41 am:

    Regarding Axelrod’s comments, it seems to me there are two possibilities

    1. He and Obama are lying now.

    2. Axelrod was mistaken when he made the previous comment.

    Unless Obama is a reckless lunatic eager to involve himself in a criminal conspiracy with someone he knows has been the subject of FBI wiretaps, he has no reason to lie. If he did talk to him, it’s possible it would be on tape. Would you risk everything to lie about something that could be innocuous?

    I choose to believe #2. Axelrod seems half asleep most of the time with the media (I’ve seen him in action enough over the years that I don’t buy the genius hype) and could have just been going through the motions and wasn’t paying attention to what he was saying.

    This was his biggest win ever, by far. People forget that he’s lost plenty. I’m sure it’s a thrill for him to speak for the president-elect. This ain’t the 5th Floor, David. Wake up or your West Wing days will be short.

  12. - Bill - Wednesday, Dec 10, 08 @ 11:42 am:

    Obama is untouchable now. jkass should give it up. When is the next round of Trib layoffs?

  13. - Conservative Republican - Wednesday, Dec 10, 08 @ 11:44 am:

    Great post. Keep it up.

  14. - VanillaMan - Wednesday, Dec 10, 08 @ 11:45 am:

    ==When is the next round of Trib layoffs?==

    Only you could say that! And I am so glad you did!

  15. - wordslinger - Wednesday, Dec 10, 08 @ 11:48 am:

    Rich, I think Obama’s response yesterday was 100% right, and his call for resignation today absolutely wrong.

    In a few short weeks, Obama is going to be the head of the Justice Department. He’s demonstrating prejudice to the accused, Blago’s, position. No president should do that with anyone.

    In addition, he now needs to stay out of this stuff. Rod is small time compared to the issues he’s facing. He doesn’t have to comment on every issue that comes along.

  16. - Team America - Wednesday, Dec 10, 08 @ 11:54 am:

    I guess this isn’t the Rod Blagojevich that Obama ‘thought he knew’. Is anyone keeping a tally on the use of that line?

  17. - lincolnlover - Wednesday, Dec 10, 08 @ 11:56 am:

    Check out Rod’s Facebook page. His favorite quotation? “Do unto others as you want them to do to you”. Seriously.

  18. - VanillaMan - Wednesday, Dec 10, 08 @ 11:57 am:

    ==Rich, I think Obama’s response yesterday was 100% right, and his call for resignation today absolutely wrong.==

    I don’t agree. We need to start demanding that our elected officials look beyond legal arguments in cases such as this. Even if Blagojevich is innocent - he is damn useless and needs to go immediately! So the question isn’t about guilt, it is about leadership.

    Obama should have made this statement immediately.

  19. - Hanging Chad - Wednesday, Dec 10, 08 @ 12:00 pm:

    What will Blago want for the resignation? A pardon?

  20. - Heartless Libertarian - Wednesday, Dec 10, 08 @ 12:01 pm:

    This circus is great, too bad I have to go to work. With this issue, there is no way Obama can look good. Just give platitudes and hope it passes quickly. And then make sure there is always something important going on when Roddy is officially indicted, goes on trial, and is sentenced. Ah, reform and renewal, change and hope.

  21. - JonShibleyFan - Wednesday, Dec 10, 08 @ 12:03 pm:

    “(I’ve seen him in action enough over the years that I don’t buy the genius hype)”

    You haven’t seen much, then. This isn’t a deification, but the guy’s whip-smart, and thinks three moves ahead.

    But I do tend to think he was speaking without actually knowing on Fox. Though it would have raised questions, it would have been perfectly appropriate for Obama to give Blagojevich a jingle about the senate vacancy. Not to offer him anything, but certainly to bend his ear.

    If he says he didn’t, likely he didn’t

  22. - Angry Chicagoan - Wednesday, Dec 10, 08 @ 12:09 pm:

    VM is right, wordslinger is wrong on this. The key problem now for Illinois is that Blagojevich politically cannot govern because they have him on tape saying and scheming outrageous things. Obama’s point is a political one, not a legal one, and should be taken as such, especially by the governor. Ideally he would have his day in court without the Lege having to impeach him first.

  23. - wordslinger - Wednesday, Dec 10, 08 @ 12:09 pm:

    VMan, the rest of my post, in part, was that Obama will be head of the Justice Department that will be prosecuting Blago. It’s wrong for him to demand the resignation of someone he will be prosecuting.

    Such conduct by any president could be interpreted as an abuse of power.

    Secondly, the quicker Obama removes himself from the barnyard of Illinois politics, the better. He’s got a lot bigger fish to fry and we can get rid of Blago without him.

  24. - HoBoSkillet - Wednesday, Dec 10, 08 @ 12:13 pm:

    Obama is in a tight spot right now though. If he was already inaugarated then I would agree that Obama should avoid the situation altogether. However, since Obama is I guess technically a private Illinois citizen he has to say something especially since the right wing media is going nuts about how Obama is somehow involved in the mix on this.

  25. - VanillaMan - Wednesday, Dec 10, 08 @ 12:20 pm:

    ==Secondly, the quicker Obama removes himself from the barnyard of Illinois politics, the better.==

    Agree - definately. Good point! But he’s the President now and we need him to finally be that reformer he claimed these past months. Screw the legal angle - Blagojevich’s lawyers can hide him behind those scrubs - just get this guy out of our lives!

    The uglier we make his departure, the better the lesson for future Blagojevich-wannabes.

  26. - South Side Mike - Wednesday, Dec 10, 08 @ 12:27 pm:

    Anyone else underwhelmed by Obama’s non-statement? His spokesman, not Obama, states that Obama 1) agrees with other politicians that 2) it is difficult for the gov. to 3) effectively do his job.

    1) Obama can’t lead with this, he has to second others’ measures?

    2) Difficult? How about, definitely impossible!

    3) Since when did Blago effectively govern?

    Come on, Barack, take a stand! What are you afraid of?

  27. - Phineas J. Whoopee - Wednesday, Dec 10, 08 @ 12:30 pm:

    I think it was Obama’s chief of staff that got the whole thing going by telling the feds Balgo’s selling the seat. That might make Obama a little mum right now, too.

  28. - Lakeview conservative - Wednesday, Dec 10, 08 @ 12:34 pm:

    “Obama and Blagojovich operate in two opposing worlds”? Oh really? So Emil Jones being Obama’s “godfather” in Springfield and staunch Blogojovich supporter throughout the havoc he has caused in Springfield we should just chalk up to it being a small world - kind of like Rezko just happening to buy a piece of property right next to your house. Oh, and I must have missed Obama voicing his objection to Emil Jones passing his Senate seat onto his son like it was his valuable piece of property to bequeath.
    Only in Illinois does staying silent while corrupt deals are being brokered around you qualify as being clean!

  29. - HoBoSkillet - Wednesday, Dec 10, 08 @ 12:41 pm:

    Phineas - I have been speculating the same thing. Personally I would love to see a telephone transcript between Rahm and Harris.

  30. - wordslinger - Wednesday, Dec 10, 08 @ 12:50 pm:

    John Shibley, I’m trying to give Axelrod the benefit of the doubt.

    I choose to believe that when he explicitly said Obama had talked about Senate replacements with Blago, Axelrod did not know that to be true. One could say he concocted actions of the president-elect out of thin air for no apparent reason.

    And since that fictional conversation he spoke of involved someone known to be under numerous federal investigations, I submit that was neither whip-smart nor thinking three moves ahead.

  31. - westside worker - Wednesday, Dec 10, 08 @ 12:50 pm:

    What do you mean Obama wouldn’t give him (Blago) anything? Why is it ALL the media skip this part?
    “ROD BLAGOJEVICH said that the consultants (Advisor B and another consultant are believed to be on the call at that time) are telling him that he has to “suck it up” for two years and do nothing and give this “motherf___r [the President-elect] his senator. F___ him. For nothing? F___ him.” ROD BLAGOJEVICH states that he will put “[Senate Candidate 4]” in the Senate “before I just give f___ing [Senate Candidate 1] a f___ing Senate seat and I don’t get anything.”

    What is “You have to wait 2 years? Who said that? Blago is drawing to much heat now so he has to wait 2 years is what that means. That is business you draw heat you have to wait till the heat is gone. Where did that line come from?? Why does EVERY media outlet skip this line????

  32. - ZC - Wednesday, Dec 10, 08 @ 1:20 pm:

    I don’t think Obama has an obligation anymore to give his position on every development in IL politics. He’s got much bigger concerns on his hands. So I don’t think he owes anyone regular statements on what should be done here. He’s not our Senator anymore. And every time he gets sucked into what is largely an internal shame here in Illinois, he’s not doing his primary job, which is to speak for the whole country.

    On the other hand, ethically he does owe everyone a full documentation about his recent contacts with Blagojevich, and especially any conversations that he or his close associates had with Blago concerning the Senate seat appointment. That will mess up Obama’s transition message, but there is no helping it. My guess is there won’t be much there. So he should prepare a “document dump” and get that out of the way, as early as possible, let the media write their one big weekend story exonerating him (hopefully), and then let the crazies stew about it on the net.

  33. - Shelbyville - Wednesday, Dec 10, 08 @ 1:59 pm:

    I though that Obama had given the gov. 3 names that he was pushing - Jesse Jr., Emil and Sheila Jackson. How did he push those names, if he hasn’t had any contact with Blago.

  34. - fed up - Wednesday, Dec 10, 08 @ 2:01 pm:

    There is the news report of the 5 Nov meeting between Blago and Obama about who is to fill his sen seat. The cover up is worse then the crime a lot of times. I read the complaint and it appears Obamas camp was telling blago he would have to wait for his reward but blago wanted something now.

  35. - Gabriel - Wednesday, Dec 10, 08 @ 2:06 pm:

    When does Obama leave for Hawaii? He should try to get the heck out of Chicago right now.

    I think a lot of the comments are right. He shouldn’t urge a resignation at the same time he’s publicly stating that the investigation should proceed at the discretion of the US Attorneys office. He’s the President-Elect now. He should stay out of anything that will relate to his future role as POTUS. He’s, if you will, a “lame duck candidate”. The less he says, the better off he will be.

    However, if he stays in Chicago this Blagojevich stuff will not go away. It’s going to be a feeding frenzy with available hotel rooms, a struggling economy with bargain basement travel costs right now, and a media with not much else to do.

    There’s enough scoops to make a back hoe operator proud.

  36. - South Side Mike - Wednesday, Dec 10, 08 @ 2:11 pm:

    ======I don’t think Obama has an obligation anymore to give his position on every development in IL politics….He’s not our Senator anymore. And every time he gets sucked into what is largely an internal shame here in Illinois, he’s not doing his primary job, which is to speak for the whole country.=====

    ZC, come on. This is not just any “development in IL politics.” This is a huge matter that is directly tied to the Senate seat Obama held for the last four years. And he’s not POTUS yet, so don’t lecture us what his primary job is. The fact is, Obama has never, NEVER, spoken out forcefully against the IL machine.

  37. - He Makes Ryan Look Like a Saint - Wednesday, Dec 10, 08 @ 2:48 pm:

    OK, one thing that comes to mind (not sure where to put this), the GOV appointed John Filan to the IFA board in early November, did he do this to ensure he could get the board to support the Tribune Deal??? It is no difference than Rezko on the Hospital board.

  38. - Master of the Oblivious - Wednesday, Dec 10, 08 @ 3:06 pm:

    Obama, in true to Chicago Political Machine form, has thrown David Axelrod “under the bus” already.

  39. - Lynn S - Thursday, Dec 11, 08 @ 8:40 pm:

    westside worker hits it!!

    Blago was stupid enough to attempt to squeeze Valerie Jarrett, and I don’t, for one single minute, buy Obama’s statement that he didn’t know about this. I have absolutely no doubt that within 15 minutes of the time Valerie Jarrett left her meeting with Blago, she was Blackberrying Obama and Emmanuel of Blago’s conduct and B.S.

    Look at the reports that it was Rahm Emmanuel who dropped the dime on Blago to the Feds.

    Axelrod may have misspoke, but Obama knew what was going on, and he’s putting the little hairball in his proper place (prison).

    Just a shame Obama can’t force him out of office before Jan. 20.

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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