*** 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.
* 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.