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A qualified defense of Obama, Emanuel, and Obama's staff if they did not turn in Blagojevich.

This post is not for those demented souls who think that Rod Blagojevich's approaches were so subtle that the Obama camp did not know that they was being shaken down. My timeline, which has now become the conventional account, strongly suggests otherwise.

And this post is also not for those Kool-Aid drinkers who think that Rahm Emanuel (or other staffer) was so incompetent or drunk with power that, knowing that their boss was being shaken down, they omitted to tell him, even while collecting Obama's list of acceptable candidates and conveying it to Blagojevich. Staffers just don't act like that -- certainly not a new staffer in a transition period in a state from which the president hails.

We don't yet know if Obama's staff turned in Blagojevich. If Obama's telling the truth that he was unaware of what was going on, it's extraordinarily unlikely that an Obama staffer reported Blagojevich, since I can't imagine that someone in the Obama camp would have turned in Blagojevich without telling Obama first.

So, for the purpose of this post only, let's make what may be the counterfactual assumption that none of Obama's staff blew the whistle on Blagojevich.

As I pointed out before, the federal misprision statute has been conclusively interpreted not to punish mere silence; there must be something more for a conviction, such as accepting a benefit to keep silent. Nor would obstruction of justice be an easy charge against the Obama camp.

So we are in the realm of ethics, not criminal law.

In my opinion, whether it was reasonable for the Obama camp not to turn in Blagojevich depends on facts we don't know yet. If Blagojevich himself offered an explicit quid pro quo in a conversation with Emanuel or David Axelrod, then I think the ethical thing would have been to turn him in to the FBI.

But if Blagojevich was careful in his discussions with the Obama staffers, and the quid pro quo was instead delivered by others, then I think that it is a close question whether the Obama camp should have called the FBI.

It is generally not prudent to make charges you can't prove -- and it would accomplish little to bring down just a Blagojevich staffer or a non-official intermediary. So, while I doubt that the Blagojevich camp's approaches were so subtle that they were misunderstood, they may have been indirect enough that a conviction would have seemed impossible.

I think that it's hindsight bias (based on the explicitness of the FBI's wiretapped conversations) to think that that the Obama camp thought that, if they turned in Blagojevich, a conviction was likely.

In my opinion, while the admirable course would have been to tip off the FBI, whether the Obama camp acted so deficiently that they acted unethically turns, not just on whether they knew they were being shaken down, but on what they reasonably thought could be proved against Blagojevich himself.

One last point: according to John Kass of the Chicago Tribune, Rahm Emanuel has not yet resigned his Congressional seat. Kass speculates it's because the power behind the governor is Jimmy DeLeo ("DeLeo is also considered by some to be the real governor of Illinois"), who is also very close to Emanuel. It's still remotely possible that Emanuel will be made a scapegoat, though frankly, he seems too ambitious to take the fall if he's not guilty of anything (and I strongly suspect he's not).

Kazinski:
I think if Emanuel or Jarrett knew that Blagojevich was selling the seat, and did not report it to Justice or the FBI, then I don't see how they can still serve in the Obama Adminstration.

Emanuel should still be able to maintain his House seat, standards are pretty lax over there.
12.13.2008 1:21am
James Lindgren (mail):
Kazinski,

I think if Emanuel or Jarrett knew that Blagojevich was selling the seat, AND THEY THOUGHT THEY COULD PROVE IT, then if they did not report it to Justice or the FBI, they shouldn't serve in the Obama Adminstration.

By your standards, which I think are too high, it's likely that Obama shouldn't serve in the Obama administration, since from the timeline it's likely Obama knew he was being shaken down.
12.13.2008 1:31am
cirby (mail):
There's also the minor possibility that one or more people in the Obama camp knew that the FBI was getting ready to jump all over Blagojevich, and shut down all contacts before the question even came up.

"I can't tell you anything in particular, but if Blagojevich calls, stall him for a few weeks. And stay off the phone with him."
12.13.2008 1:47am
Elliot123 (mail):
If we consider it as an ethical question, it seems there are more considerations than the probability of a conviction, and more outlets than the FBI. If they didn't think a conviction was likely, but were convinced the governor was selling the position, they could have tipped the Tribune, informed Blogojevich's enemies, or mentioned it to the bidder. Wouldn't the ethical duty be to the people of the State of Illinios? There are lots of ways to curtail a politician other than conviction.
12.13.2008 2:13am
winstontwo (mail):
Do you have a permit to continue construction on that molehill you are working on?
12.13.2008 2:17am
Nick056:
Jim,

No one has been able to suggest any wrongdoing or ethical lapse on the part of the Obama team. I'm uncertain why a defense of their actions needs to be qualified -- in fact, I'm uncertain as to why you persist in assuming the worst about Obama for the sake of argument and then offering a qualified defense of the ill deeds you assume he or his team may have committed.

In tone, style, and matter this post is quite like your effort that plainly called Obama's behavior Clintonian before saying, obscurely, that perhaps he didn't lie after all. In this post, you assume that he or others acted incorrectly and then offer a qualified defense of things he may never have done in the first place.

Given that we're likely to know more and more every day, I don't think it's a helpful analytic strategy to assume Obama's deceit or culpability in successive posts before offering weakened defenses of things you only assume he's done in the very first place. The more sensible route of analysis seems to stem from the principle that we rely most on what we know about a person, and less on what we speculate he may have done.
12.13.2008 2:27am
trollbard:
actually we're in the realm of character assassination being passed off as naive philosophical bullshit.
12.13.2008 2:54am
James Lindgren (mail):
Nick056:

My prior post that you referenced is being vindicated. Asked about contacts, Obama said he had no contacts. Based on my close reading of the timeline, I said that this was a Clintonian response.

Obama really meant I did have contacts, but they were indirect.

According to recent press reports, and Obama's recent strong hints, it very much appears that I was dead right on this issue -- and ABSOLUTELY FAIR.

I am very probably right on the rest of it, but we'll have to wait and see.
12.13.2008 3:09am
Kazinski:
Jim,
If someone tries to sell you a child, and even if you don't think you can prove it wouldn't you report it, or would you let them keep peddling the child until they find somebody that is willing to meet their price?

I don't think the country wants a chief of staff that would blandly listen to an immoral and illegal proposal, and while declining to participate, let them continue to sell what isn't theirs to sell.
12.13.2008 3:11am
Kazinski:
JL:
By your standards, which I think are too high, it's likely that Obama shouldn't serve in the Obama administration, since from the timeline it's likely Obama knew he was being shaken down.

My standards have never been that rigid, for one thing the bar has to be set lower for elected officials than their staffs. You don't need an election, or constitutional crisis to replace the staff. Overturning elections should not be taken trivially, staff are expendable.

But regardless of that, Obama's information would have been at least second hand, so his obligation to report would have been a lot less. Sure you'd hope he would order/request Emanuel to report it, so it would be a disappointment, not a disqualification.
12.13.2008 3:30am
Nick056:
Jim, in an interview Obama gave to the LA Times the very same day of that presser quote, he specifically said that he had no contacts, but would not discuss staff contacts at that point in time, due to the status of the investigation. This was not in your absolutely fair timeline, as far as I saw. I continue to believe that accusing Obama of Clintonian parsing (read: willfull deceit) under those circumstances is absolutely unfair -- Clinton did not say "I did not have sex with that woman" and then the very same day mention that she did give him oral sex.

You are loading your discussion of this topic with many uncharitable assumptions about the behavior of people whose innocence in this has always been beyond dispute. You are omitting relevant facts from timelines and having discussions which turn, as you put it, on things we can't know yet -- but probably will in a matter of days, since it is Obama and his team have agreed to disclose all the relevant contacts. And when Obama and his team do agree to disclose all the relevant contacts, you argue that his language was constructed so as to allow for a release of less than the full, relevant account.

You've got an established record, in the last four or five days, of prejudging the implications of things Obama is about to do or say. I'll even concede that this might be an absolutely fair way to regard the actions of someone under investigation -- but people not even charged with wrongdoing get treated differently than those under investigation.
12.13.2008 5:22am
Pierre Owner Bouncer Pink Flamingo Bar & Grill (www):
I don't think the country wants a chief of staff that would blandly listen to an immoral and illegal proposal, and while declining to participate, let them continue to sell what isn't theirs to sell.

It is a little disheartening to hear folks who are either Lawyers or becoming Lawyers be so deliberately blind.

So you believe that Rahm didn't know Blago's character before this started? You believe that Obama didn't know what sort of person Blago was before the FBI enlightened him? This is not the Reverend Wright I knew defense?

Are you folks defending Obama serious? Obama planned campaign strategy with Blago and Rahm was there. Obama was there when Revered Wright was spewing racist crap. And yet many of you persist in believing the spin from Obama.

Hey you elected him...revel in his corruption. It has been evident from the beginning. My question is when do the electors start reconsidering their votes?
12.13.2008 7:27am
RichardR (mail):
Kass is an idiot. Emanuel hasn't resigned his seat because he'd just have to resign it again in January when the term he was just elected to starts.
12.13.2008 7:31am
Pierre Owner Bouncer Pink Flamingo Bar & Grill (www):
Jim, in an interview Obama gave to the LA Times the very same day of that presser quote, he specifically said that he had no contacts, but would not discuss staff contacts at that point in time, due to the status of the investigation.

And if Obama says it that proves it? My goodness standards change eh? Just because a TV station took down two reports regarding Obama meeting Blago, not only took them down but scrubbed Google's cache...nothing to see here move along. Just because Axelrod SAID Obama met with Blago about this...nope story's changed, nothing to see here move along. Just because Blago himself claimed he met with Obama...nope nothing to see here move along. And just because it is logically ridiculous to believe that something so important as a Senate Seat would NOT be discussed by Obama...you folks defending him strain credibility.

He is corrupt...y'all had to know this given his background. Revel in his corruption...sing it from the highest mountain..don't admit you didn't know, it's embarrassing to consider we got beat by folks so naive.
12.13.2008 7:33am
greyarcher315 (mail):
I think we don't have enough information yet. I don't like Obama's politics, and I certainly don't trust him, but I also don't think he is stupid. And if he knew about the attempt to seel the senate seat, he would have found a way to be sure he was covered. But until I see more evidence one way or the other, I will give him the benifit of the doubt. Innocent until proven guilty.
12.13.2008 7:37am
Pierre Owner Bouncer Pink Flamingo Bar & Grill (www):
I don't like Obama's politics, and I certainly don't trust him, but I also don't think he is stupid.

And yet he hung around Wright, Ayers, Pfleger, Khalidi, Odinga...btw Odinga resembles Blago in a lot of neat ways. If he isn't stupid then he is exceedingly dangerous...
12.13.2008 7:44am
sputnik (mail):
is that what passes for a professor of jurisprudence nowadays?

A joke like Jm/?
12.13.2008 8:24am
Kommunists-are-bad Karl:
RE Pierre Owner Bouncer Pink Flamingo Bar &Grill
"And yet he hung around Wright, Ayers, Pfleger, Khalidi, Odinga...btw Odinga resembles Blago in a lot of neat ways. If he isn't stupid then he is exceedingly dangerous..."

I think your complaint about he other commenters is that they actually have factual information to share. They have not taken any major possitions based on evidence they don't have. I have never even heard of Khalidi or Odinga, but I know that his connection to Ayers is not as strong as you would have us believe. Do any of their contacts with each other show without a doubt that they share the same political opinions? Just being friends with your neighbor does not equal ideological equality. His connection to Wright was a bit troubling, but based on your past several comments I think you are spouting Republican Campaign Propaganda. Please provide some evidence of his complicity with the ideas of these men. Further any actual evidence of a close relationship with any of them (except for Wright) would be most apreciated.
12.13.2008 8:49am
Wiser:
Jim says: "Obama really meant I did have contacts, but they were indirect."

You know this, how? You read his mind. Fortunately, for the rest of us non-mindreaders we have a follow-up interview, the same day, which shows he meant what he said: He personally did not have contact with the Governor or his staff about the senate seat. We also know that the prosecutor, assuming he has tapes of discussions between Obama's team and Blago's team, beleives that these conversations do not support criminal wrongdoing, otherwise they would be in the complaint.

Not only are you not vindicated, Jim, you show with each post your own lack of ethics, through your sustained practice of calumny.
12.13.2008 9:44am
resh (mail):
You'd think they'd learn. Especially RE and Axlerod. But no. Egos. That's always the problem. From Nixon to Reagan to Clinton to Bush. Now to Obama.

The self-evident reality in this clusterfck is that one or both of them either acted unethically with commission but more likely with omission.

How soon we forget. Obama lived with the tough-guy mantra, "I'm from Chicago-we know something about rough and tumble politics...!" Uh, huh. Except now. Suddenly Obama, RE and Axlerod know nothing. Hear no evil, see no evil. Saints one and all.

You can't make it up.
12.13.2008 9:46am
Asher (mail):
Just because Blago himself claimed he met with Obama...nope nothing to see here move along.

When did that happen?
12.13.2008 9:48am
ThomasD (mail):
[H]e seems too ambitious to take the fall if he's not guilty of anything (and I strongly suspect he's not).

Not guilty of anything? Or just not guilty of anything criminal?
12.13.2008 9:51am
Pierre Owner Bouncer Pink Flamingo Bar & Grill (www):
They have not taken any major possitions based on evidence they don't have.

Ah yes because circumstantial evidence is NEVER used in court eh?

I have never even heard of Khalidi or Odinga, but I know that his connection to Ayers is not as strong as you would have us believe.

You really aren't seriously saying that he didn't have strong connections with Billy are you? Hey would you be tickled pink if he only had casual relations with a guy who talked about murdering millions...fun guy. But I forget that the guy who uttered this:

Here is Larry Grathwohl discussing the plans of the Weathermen. Larry was an FBI Operative who infiltrated the Weather Underground and stopped several bombings and other "Circle of Love" acts.

I asked, "Well what is going to happen to those people we can't reeducate, that are diehard capitalists?" And the reply was that they'd have to be eliminated.

And when I pursued this further, they estimated they would have to eliminate 25 million people in these reeducation centers.

And when I say "eliminate," I mean "kill."

Twenty-five million people.

I want you to imagine sitting in a room with 25 people, most of which have graduate degrees, from Columbia and other well-known educational centers, and hear them figuring out the logistics for the elimination of 25 million people.

And they were dead serious.

Is the talk of the town and having a "tea" with him and serving on boards with him and working in the same building as this vermin is A-Ok with a lot of you.

Khalidi is the PLO representative who is the talk of the town with all the right sorts of leftists. Obama gave him a toast at a Banquet attended by Ayers, Dohrn and Khalidi. The video was suppressed before the election because the LA Times had to run stories about Palin's wardrobe. The toast was marvelous...should make all the Israelis very happy.

The Obama toast…


"Israel has no God-given right to occupy Palestine" plus there's been "genocide against the Palestinian people by Israelis."


And so you seriously believe that the president-elect would NOT want to have some input into Blagos selection process? And you see nothing at all wrong with a news outlet taking two stories down after they reported that Obama was scheduled to meet Blago to discuss the Senate seat and the next one where they reported the meeting had gone well. Both stories were taken down and the Google cache scrubbed...nothing about that bothers you?

You think that Axelrod, maybe the only adult in the obama transition team, mis-spoke? Do you also believe in the tooth fairy.
12.13.2008 10:02am
PatHMV (mail) (www):
Based on the tone of the first 2 sentences of this post, I'm not going to even bother to read this post. You seem particularly full of yourself for having compiled "the authoritative timeline." Perhaps you should be trying for a NYT column... arrogance, condescension, and faux-omniscience are more highly valued there.
12.13.2008 10:03am
Pierre Owner Bouncer Pink Flamingo Bar & Grill (www):
I'm not going to even bother to read this post.

hehe...You folks do alot of that don't you? Was talking to a guy about Obama and his nefarious connections and he literally covered his ears and started moving his head from side to side while muttering about he didn't know anything about that...funny stuff. God how did we lose to you folks?
12.13.2008 10:11am
Kommunists-are-bad Karl:
You still have not mentioned how being neighbors and being on the same higher education commitees proves that they have the same ideologies. Further I did not say anything directly related to the scandal. Please do not construe my comments as an implied opinion on the corruption scandal. I would also like to see this video you talk about. If it is as damning as you say it is then I don't know how FOX News did not show it. My comment on the other commenters was that they had the common sense not to give a verdict before all of the evidence is known.
12.13.2008 10:22am
Pierre Owner Bouncer Pink Flamingo Bar & Grill (www):
Oh Geez I forgot Odingo..sorry. He is a really fun guy who is a Marxist creating a bunch of dead people in Africa...nothing exceptional in that except that Obama campaigned for him.

Ben Smith of Politico tried to bury the story...here. Ben Smith tried to say that Obama never had substantial contact with Odingo...Ben Smith says it was only a phone call. And as is so constantly the case with Liberals Ben Smith is either stupid or ignorant or a patsy. Here is a neato video of Obama campaigning for Odingo.

And Odingo was this much fun....


This was not Mr. Odinga's first brush with notoriety. Like his father, Jaramogi Oginga Odinga , the main opposition leader in the 1960s and 1970s, Raila Odinga is a Marxist He graduated from East Germany's Magdeburg University in 1970 on a scholarship provided by the East German government. He named his oldest son after Fidel Castro.



Hey no wonder Obama and Odinga got along so royally! Obama loves hanging around with Marxists. Course if Odinga is a Marxist then he most likely uses his Christianity as a cover for his radicalism…hey that's just like Obama! From Obama's tome Dreams of My Father…

"To avoid being mistaken for a sellout, I chose my friends carefully," the Democratic presidential candidate wrote in his memoir, "Dreams From My Father." "The more politically active black students. The foreign students. The Chicanos. The Marxist professors and structural feminists."

And Obama's grandfather was quite happy to introduce young Obama to Frank Davis ( just FRANK in Deams of…) who was a noted communist. Obama waxed poetically about dear old Frank.

Raila Odinga was implicated in the bloody coup attempt in 1982 against then-President Daniel Arap Moi, a close ally of the United States. Kenya has been one of the most stable democracies in Africa since the 1960s. The ethnic cleansing earlier this year was the worst violence in Kenya since that 1982 coup attempt.

That is not the Odinga that Obama thought he knew?
12.13.2008 10:23am
Richard Aubrey (mail):
Guys, guys.
This is not Bush. He can, therefore, do no wrong.
12.13.2008 10:31am
MartyA:
I think you all miss the point. This is not not good vs. evil, Blago the bribe seeking crook vs. Emanuel the guy on the unicorn.
This is Chicago where EVERYONE is dirty! Emanuel has just been involved in pulling off the greatest scam in history; anything is possible and plausible.
Emanuel wasn't in opposition to Blago; he was looking for a way of sharing the cash. And, there were at least two items for sale, Hussein's seat and Emanuel's seat. each being "owned" by different people.
Did Obama know? How could he not know; he'd been in Chicago politics for years. Sure he's black but he must have had survival skills. He and his wife played for pay then, what's different now?
Emanuel may not have been negotiating for Obama but my bet is the tapes will show he was negotiating for himself to get a piece of the action. He knows, for example, that Fitzgerald will be gone in 6 weeks and probably knows who has purchased Fiztgerald's job.
12.13.2008 10:37am
loki13 (mail):
Prof. Lindgren,

It seems many of your supporters are making a case for judging Obama's character by (what theey view to be) the character of people he has known. If that is the new standard in America-

I suggest looking carefully at your recent posts and seeing the writings of the individuals who are your vociferous supporters (MartyA is a big fan!). While you may claim that everyone misinterprets you, and that 'X' is not what you really mean . . .

You be the judge. If *everyone* (supporters, detractors, co-bloggers) are interpreting you ddifferently, then perhaps what you have is a failure to communicate.
12.13.2008 10:44am
Richard Aubrey (mail):
I believe we'll see the Clinton two-step wrt Obama.
First, he didn't do it. Then, when Clinton--seeing it was impossible to lie any longer--admits it, it's not wrong.
Nope. He didn't grope Kathleen Willey. Oh, he did? Well, see NOW's one-free-grope rule. He stopped, didn't he?
That would be a hell of a defense in a campus date-grope proceeding, wouldn't it?
12.13.2008 11:06am
Sarcastro (www):
I love how Obama is totally fitting into whatever narrative I have!

He's Bush's third term! I can tell from the few facts I can pick up that support that thesis.

Wait, no he's got all of Clinton's baggage! I can tell from all the lack of info I have!

Wait, he's a dangerous Kenyan! I can tell from studying how he looks and my own fevered imagination!
12.13.2008 11:15am
MQuinn:
Most everyone freely admits that Obama has not engaged in criminal activity. Further, most everyone admits that Emanuel has not engaged in criminal activity (for those few above that suggest otherwise, see here). And, as best as I can tell, most everyone admits that no one in Obama's staff has engaged in criminal activity.

Yet, despite these facts, over the past few days, there have been a flurry of posts that cover Obama with a dark cloud of nefariousness, and use the harshest language possible to describe his (non-criminal) activities, and cast barely-hidden innuendo about his fitness for office, and invoke comparisons to Clinton in the most negative manner possible. (True, the conclusion of many of these posts has included a halfhearted exculpatory statement, but that does not change the truth of the above characterization of these recent posts.)

What is the point behind these posts? Because... Obama didn't contact the FBI when he heard through the grapevine that Blago was trying to sell his Senate seat? This allegation is unproven; and even if it is true, it is not criminal and probably not unethical. Also, I suggest that the treatment of Obama and the language in these posts are disproportionate to this allegation. Particularly in light of the fact that we are beginning from the premise that neither Obama nor his staff have acted unlawfully.

In light of this treatment, I suspect that the recent posts regarding Blago are pretexts for a desire to take any opportunity imaginable to undermine an incoming democratic President.
12.13.2008 11:26am
MQuinn:
Darn! Forgot the link I referenced in my above post. See here. Sorry for the double post.
12.13.2008 11:28am
Nick056:
Pierre,

So when Rod Blagojevitch says, "Obama won't offer anything but appreciation. Fuck him," this becomes more proof that Obama is a corrupt pol for working so closely with the likes of Rod Blagojevitch.

Really. This isn't even the focus of Jim's postings, and Jim might even describe that assertion as the talk of a kool-aid drinker or demented soul. While I take issue with how Jim is treating this topic, tihs is of a different order -- just look at that statement again. Blagojevitch says fuck Obama for not playing ball, and some take this episode as a central piece of evidence proving Obama's corruption.
12.13.2008 11:34am
Sarcastro (www):
but Nick056, it fits the narrative! Take this, along with all the other scraps of info I pick and choose, and the evidence for the narrative is overwhelming!

Did you notice how Jim was totally right about the timeline, according to other blogs? PROOF!
(Note that since we're talking about "ethics" not law, proof I think it is true)
12.13.2008 11:46am
Sarcastro (www):
Next up: ACORN and election fraud: Serious questions.

Here's a preview. Questions become theories. Theories become "the conventional account," and suddenly the election was totally stolen!
12.13.2008 11:46am
Randy R. (mail):
Oh good lord. I recall a couple of years ago when Fitzpatrick was prosecuting Scooter Libby, and all hell broke out on the VC, accusing him of being a partisan hack. Where are those people now? Oh, I see. Once he starts prosecuting a Democrat, then he's all right.

And now we suddenly have really really high ethics, and if politicians don't meet them, they should resign! Immediately! With no real investigation! Where wasw Jim Lungren when a CIA operative was outed by the White House? Oh -- that's okay, because, see, it was necessary to sell the war in Iraq, and he wasn't being a very good team player anyway, and heck, there was no proof that the White House had anything to do with it.

But Obama lived in the same city as Blago, so he MUST be guilty of something.
\
Thanks, guys, now I know how the next four years will be going. There was a murder in DC over the weekend. Obama must be connected because, you know, he lives in the same country as where this murder took place.
12.13.2008 12:06pm
MarkDP:
"In my opinion, whether it was reasonable for the Obama camp not to turn in Blagojevich depends on facts we don't know yet."

This is exactly where your post should have ended.
12.13.2008 12:19pm
Johnny Canuck (mail):
Randy R.:Thanks, guys, now I know how the next four years will be going. There was a murder in DC over the weekend. Obama must be connected because, you know, he lives in the same country as where this murder took place.

You are being very unfair. I'm confident that the people you are railing at will not hold Obama responsible for murders in DC that were planned before he moves to Washington. They may even give him a few hours grace.
12.13.2008 12:35pm
Wiser:
Well, I did read before the election, a blogger, who blamed a murder spike in Chicago this year on Obama.
12.13.2008 1:03pm
Roy Mustang (mail):
Obama is like Jesse Jackson Jr. Not a target of this investigation.

Turning a blind eye to hatred, evil and corruption. Obama, the most unqualified person ever elected President.
12.13.2008 1:06pm
Sarcastro (www):

hatred, evil and corruption

Life immitates art?
12.13.2008 1:11pm
JB:
The desperation of right-wing bloggers to somehow use a scandal touched off by Obama refusing to bribe someone to blacken Obama's name is palpable. And it smells like overripe stilton cheese.
12.13.2008 1:19pm
Cover Me, Porkins (mail):
As one who voted against Barack Obama, I place the reticence in the context of the Bush administration's baffling refusals to be forthright when no real wrongdoing had been committed.

It's not incriminating in terms of culpability. It's incriminating in terms of mortality and fallibility. Lightbringer, Obama ain't.
12.13.2008 1:20pm
Sarcastro (www):
Cover Me, Porkins not only has the best name in the history of Volokh commenters, he's totally right to hold Obama to the unrealistic openness standards of the messiah Obama's supporters don't think he is.
12.13.2008 1:25pm
James Lindgren (mail):
Nick056:

You point to the LA Times interview and suggest that it's not in my timeline post, but it is.

It's in the first update of my timeline:


UPDATE: My parsing of Obama's statement above gets some strong support from this LA Times interview, noted by Byron York:


It hasn't gotten a huge amount of coverage, but Obama did an interview with the Los Angeles Times yesterday. He said he had never talked about the Senate seat with Rod Blagojevich. But when he was asked whether his staff had, he clammed up. From the interview:


Q: Have you ever spoken to [Illinois] Gov. [Rod R.] Blagojevich about the Senate seat?

Obama: I have not discussed the Senate seat with the governor at any time. 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.

Q: And that was before and after the election?

Obama: Yes.

Q: Are you aware of any conversations between Blagojevich or [chief of staff] John Harris and any of your top aides, including Rahm [Emanuel]?

Obama: Let me stop you there because . . . it's an ongoing.... investigation. I think it would be inappropriate for me to, you know, remark on the situation beyond the facts that I know. And that's the fact that I didn't discuss this issue with the governor at all.



So I was correct that Obama was indeed drawing a distinction between what he knew and what his staff might have known.

As I said above, there is something missing here. It wouldn't surprise me if Obama staffers were working with the prosecutors (from the week of Nov. 10th on), a possibility suggested in comments below. But it would surprise me if Obama staffers went to the feds without telling Obama.





It was the first confirmation that Obama's denial was a Clintonian one and that I had read Obama exactly correctly.

Jim Lindgren
12.13.2008 1:27pm
Johnny Canuck (mail):
Lindgren's timeline theory re Jarrett is based on assumption that CNN report on Nov 9 demonstrates Obama still wanting her to be appointed Senator on Nov 10 when Bleg discusses. Roland Martin claims she told him (on Nov.10)that on Nov 9th Obama offered her White House position.

ie. not only before Blegs nov 10th rant could be communicated to Obama, but before Bleg ranted.

http://essence.typepad.com
/news/2008/12/the-back-stor-1.html
12.13.2008 1:36pm
Moneyrunner43 (www):
Kommunists-are-bad Karl you ask:


I would also like to see this video you talk about. If it is as damning as you say it is then I don't know how FOX News did not show it.


I had that video on my site, but it has been taken off YouTube "...due to terms of use violation." However you can see a partial transcript HERE and some more detail from a TIME story from 1975 which includes this reference to Ayers:


After the Weatherpeople went underground in February to escape police surveillance, they adopted a pyramidal organization. At the top was the Weather Bureau, a leadership council that included Dohrn, Jeff Jones and Bill Ayers, the group's theoretician and son of the chairman of Chicago's Commonwealth Edison Co. Through members acting as couriers, the leaders kept in touch with a nationwide network of four-or five-member cells which were constantly on the run. Known as "foco," the Spanish word for "focus" or "center," they each operated independently, recruiting new members and carrying out bombings and other terrorist acts that had been cleared in advance by the Weather Bureau.
...
An average day began at about 10 a.m. Says Grathwohl: "We'd get up and start with physical exercise—push-ups, situps, that sort of thing. If there was anything to eat—and often we'd go for days with very little—we'd have a quick meal. The day's activities would vary. The women frequently were sent out to steal. If we were near a university, they would go into women's dorms and steal purses. If they managed to get an ID and a checkbook, they'd go out as fast as possible to kite the checks." Another technique was to comb birth records in city halls to find a child who had been born at about the same time as a cell member but who had died in infancy. The name and birth date would then be used in applying for a driver's license or for identification.

Planning a bombing required a "political struggle" session, usually at night, in which members debated tactics....


You remember Ayers? The recipient of that Chicago Man of the Year award. The upstanding college Professor, educational foundation leader and philanthropist; guy who lived in Obama's neighborhood, whose kids went to his kids school. Who Obama really didn't know other than that?
12.13.2008 1:44pm
Neal Scroggs (mail):
My friends, all this to-ing and froe-ing is pointless.
The notion that Blagojevich and Obama, either directly or through intermediaries, colluded on the question of who would fill his vacated Senate seat, how the bidding would be handled and who would reap the swag is patently absurd. It is perfectly obvious that Obama was totally indifferent to the succession because he has had no regard for the office since he occupied it, else he would have voted yea or nay at least as often as he voted present.
12.13.2008 1:56pm
Johnny Canuck (mail):
Neal Scroggs:
It is perfectly obvious that Obama was totally indifferent to the succession because he has had no regard for the office since he occupied it, else he would have voted yea or nay at least as often as he voted present.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't "present" an option in the Illinois legislature but not in the US Senate? and isn't it true that Obama's yes and/or no votes in Illinois totaled over 1000?
12.13.2008 2:22pm
MQuinn:
Professor Lindgren,

I -- and I suspect others -- believe that you are being inconsistent.

One one hand, you keep making exculpatory statements, such as: "It wouldn't surprise me if Obama staffers were working with the prosecutors (from the week of Nov. 10th on) . . . ."

But on the other hand, you keep making statements that strongly imply that Obama has somehow acted unlawfully or unethically; for instance: "It was the first confirmation that Obama's denial was a Clintonian one . . . ."

Please explain this apparent inconsistency. What does it mean to be "Clintonian" if one has not committed a crime and one's conduct can be justified by multiple viable innocent explanations?

Also, please explain what it is that you find so significant about this whole affair. You acknowledge that neither Obama nor his staff have engaged in criminal acts. It seems that the only conclusion that one can draw from your posts is that Obama might have heard through the grapevine that his Senate seat was for sale, and that Obama might have declined to contact the FBI about the possible sale. Assuming that all of those assumptions are borne out as true, so what? This isn't criminal, and it doesn't even violate any relevant ethics code.

I -- and I suspect others -- believe that a "scandal" is being created out of thin air, when in fact you have already conceded enough points and facts to take the existence of a scandal off the table.
12.13.2008 2:25pm
DG:
Its not about whether Rahm should have reported Blago - its whether he could prove Blago was trying to shake him down. It was "he said/he said" - Blago asks for remuneration, Rahm tell his to pound sand. Then, what is Rahm supposed to do? He didn't know the FBI was listening. Should he make an unsubstantiated claim again a sitting governor? Who would immediately claim that Rahm essentially misunderstood?

This was a no-win situation for Rahm - he walked away with his own integrity intact, which is really all I ask of politicians, especially from Chicago.
12.13.2008 2:26pm
Neal Scroggs (mail):
Johnny Canuck:

You may be wrong or right, but what's the difference since your point is irrelevant?
12.13.2008 2:49pm
newsreader:
What does it mean to be "Clintonian" if one has not committed a crime and one's conduct can be justified by multiple viable innocent explanations?


Professor Kerr took exception to one of Professor Lindgren's recent posts. In that post, Professor Lindgren wrote:
As with Clinton, should we presume that Obama is saying something that is technically not a lie, but that the full truth is closer to the opposite of what he is trying to make us think?

I suppose "It depends on what the meaning of the word ['contact'] is" and "what the meaning of the word ['aware'] is."

UPDATE: Orin disagrees with this post, but I think he misunderstands what I am saying.

(Emphasis added.)

I believe that post —and the emphasized phrase— explains the essence of Professor Lindgren's use of “Clintonian”: It means that there should be a presumption of willful misrepresentation.

A presumption. Of willful misrepresentation.

In comments above, Professor Lindgren writes:
It was the first confirmation that Obama's denial was a Clintonian one and that I had read Obama exactly correctly.

Professor Lindgren is accusing the President-elect of willful misrepresentation.
12.13.2008 2:49pm
Elliot123 (mail):
Hey, is it time for a catchy slogan and ditty so cleverness can trump cogent argument? T-shirts? Bumper stickers? Duke faculty club passwords? How about these?

Obama lied, what's to hide?

There once was a man from Chicago,
I'm ethical, though, so he'd crow,
While my words were a gaff,
That Rahm's just my staff,
And a cellmate now for Rod Blago.
12.13.2008 2:53pm
Johnny Canuck (mail):
neal:
You may be wrong or right, but what's the difference since your point is irrelevant?

As I guess is yours, since you're line is only witty if based on fact.
12.13.2008 3:05pm
Nick056:
Jim,

I was mistaken and didn't see your update, for which I apologize. But it certainly doesn't validate or even strengthen a claim that Obama spoke to deceive. He said he had had no personal contact with Blagojevich, and was unaware of what was happening, and then reiterated that he had had no personal contacts but couldn't yet speak to a certainty about staff contacts.

The point that he just had to know "what was happening" is reasonable but uncertain. we simply don't know enough. Did Rahm merely offer a list of candidates with a preferred person and signal that there would be no favors without an associate of Blagojevich spelling out the bribe? This is possible. Did Rahm believe he'd received a bribe offer and report his belief to Obama, which meant Obama would have had to say he suspected but did not know "what was happening"? (I don't think that's a Clintonian difference; I think you'd agree, since your post above focuses on the difference between suspicion and certainty of wrongdoing.)

There are too many unknown facts, and until Obama tells us his version of events, we really can't even judge his internal consistency based on the largely pro forma statements he's made so far.
12.13.2008 3:08pm
newsreader:
I think if Emanuel or Jarrett knew that Blagojevich was selling the seat, and did not report it to Justice or the FBI, then I don't see how they can still serve in the Obama Adminstration.


Kazinski,

You're thinking like a little child.

Right now, the DoJ is held by Mr Obama's political opponents. Those political opponents just ran a political campaign against him. And there have been credible accusations of undue political considerations within the current administration's DoJ.

In a few weeks, the President-elect will be inaugurated. Then the President-elect's Attorney General will be confirmed.

So, at the beginning of this month, Mr Blagojevich (allegedly) attempted to shake down the President-elect's transition team. The smart thing to do, might be to just wait a few weeks. Hold on a little bit. Then Mr Obama could turn to his AG at his DoJ.

The Big Boss might say to Justice, “Boyz, dis rat tried to shake me down.” They'd know what to do.

Wouldn't that be smart?
12.13.2008 3:11pm
Ranger (mail):
There are a few more data points to add to the point in question.

According to the Chicago Tribune, Rahm Emanuel contacted and passed on a list of "acceptable" candidates to Harris (Blago's Chief of Staff) during the week before the election. Some conversations took place between them regarding the issue.

According to the prosecutor's filings, President-elect Advisor A was seen by the Blagojevich team as someone who could help the governor get a non-profit organization job.

According to the prosecutor's filings, we know that the SEIU contacted Blagojevich "aproximately a week" before Nov. 12th to serve as an agent of a Senate candidate, and they offered him a position with Win for Change in two years.

The implication is that, if Rahm Emanuel is President-elect Advisor A, he may have asked the SEIU to assist in finding a non-profit organization job. If that effort was made in response to the conversations with Harris, then it sounds very much like Emanuel was engaged in making a deal to ensure that one of the President-elects "acceptable" choice was chosen.

Now, I don't know if that is a crime, but it is very much politics as usual in Chicago, and not the kind of "new politics" that Obama claimes he represents.
12.13.2008 3:15pm
Putting Two and Two...:
For Obama's response to be "Clintonian", wouldn't Clinton's answer have had to have been something along the lines of "I did not have sexual relations with that woman, Monica Lewinsky, and I'm not going to discusss other forms of sexual contact, such as oral sex, because of the on-going investigation."

I must have missed that interview.
12.13.2008 3:21pm
Michael B (mail):
Incuriouser and incuriouser remain the orders of the day.

The 1st Commandment: Thou shalt remain incurious, or thou shalt be smitten.

The 2nd Commandment: Thou shalt be content with a biblicist, literal interpretation of the MSM texts du jour - e.g. George Stephanopoulos's rather amusing defense of Obama and his transition team - thou shalt not question these texts, they are absolute, they are authoritative.

And the people were pleased with the commandments, and the people were happy and content to obey the commandments. And the people were mindful of those who showed signs of failing to conform, of failing to believe, of failing to obey.

Pitiable stuff here, by the so-called intellectually curious crowd. Based solely upon the facts as presented in the criminal complaint and otherwise, perfectly valid suspicions and questions remain. Too, this is no longer an election - it's a formal, legal investigation wherein Patrick Fitzgerald will sift through the facts and evidence.

(And it was too subtle for SNL, but MSM-styled apologetics such as those presented by George Stephanopoulos were raucously humorous, they were in fact Clintonian spins of the first order. But no one's suppose to notice.)
12.13.2008 3:30pm
pluribus:
Michael B:

Too, this is no longer an election - it's a formal, legal investigation wherein Patrick Fitzgerald will sift through the facts and evidence.

If that were all it was, Obama, Emmanuel, Jackson, Jr., and all the rest should shut up until they receive subpoenas, because any public statements they make could well jeopardize the formal, legal investigation. Blagojevich could ultimately get off because of inflammatory publicity. But there are even more important political considerations at stake. The public's right to know does not depend on Fitzgerald's prosecutorial needs, and reporters will not stop asking questions simply because Fitzgerald is also asking.
12.13.2008 3:46pm
newsreader:
... Patrick Fitzgerald will sift through the facts and evidence.


Two former DoJ lawyers have raised serious questions regarding Mr Fitzgerald's ethics. One opinion in the Wall Street Journal from Victoria Toensing, who is a lawyer and former DoJ official. The other opinion in the New York Times from Barry Coburn, a former federal prosecutor.

I know the popular conception of Mr Fitzgerald is that he's Elliot Ness in The Untouchables. But grownups should have more nuanced views of real officials than Hollywood stereotypes. Mr Fitzgerald shouldn't be acting like he's in his own TV show or movie. Whether he's in syndicated re-runs, or at the dollar theatre.
12.13.2008 3:50pm
Pierre Owner Bouncer Pink Flamingo Bar & Grill (www):

Right now, the DoJ is held by Mr Obama's political opponents. Those political opponents just ran a political campaign against him. And there have been credible accusations of undue political considerations within the current administration's DoJ.

In a few weeks, the President-elect will be inaugurated. Then the President-elect's Attorney General will be confirmed.

So, at the beginning of this month, Mr Blagojevich (allegedly) attempted to shake down the President-elect's transition team. The smart thing to do, might be to just wait a few weeks. Hold on a little bit. Then Mr Obama could turn to his AG at his DoJ.

The Big Boss might say to Justice, "Boyz, dis rat tried to shake me down." They'd know what to do.


God I hope that you aren't going to be a prosecuter with such a dense view of the facts.

All of you act as if Obama had no clue at all of Blago's personal behavior. This is a common theme apparently. Obama deals with all these evil folks and you apologists simply state he didn't know...its hilarious.

Remember that Obama worked on Blago's campaign. Rahm worked on his campaign...Blago helped Obama in his campaigns...Rezko helped Obama with his campaigns...Khalidi helped...Ayers helped...but all of these folks character simply slipped by when Obama was dealing with them.

Are you serious? Did Blago all of sudden become a Chicago politician? Did Ayers all of a sudden get religion and swear off wanting to kill millions? Did Rezko have a Road to Damascus moment and turn away from fixing stuff with money?

Obama was neck deep inside of this and what is heartening to me as a conservative is he is so inept at it. Chicago politics seem normal to him...he thinks it is normal for the rest of us.

Regarding the interview with the FBI operative here is the video...Apparently this is NOT the Ayers that Obama knows.
12.13.2008 3:50pm
LN (mail):
Why hasn't Obama released his birth certificate??????????????!!!???
12.13.2008 4:03pm
Nick056:
Because it says William Ayers is his father.
12.13.2008 4:05pm
LN (mail):

Did Ayers all of a sudden get religion and swear off wanting to kill millions?


Obviously not, he's just been biding his time before he can kill millions. That's why he ghost-wrote Obama's books, and launched Obama's political career, so he could get a chance at putting his finger on the button.

I'm very distressed by the quotes of Blago saying that he wasn't going to settle for Obama's mere "appreciation." I can't think of anything that could possibly reflect worse on our President-elect.
12.13.2008 4:06pm
Brian K (mail):
I absolutely love this new found love of ethics on the part of conservatives. where you were guys the past 8 years?

many of the above commenters defended illegal wiretapping, unethical firing of attorneys for political means, etc. but are calling for heads to roll at the mere hint that someone somewhere might have done something unethical, despite an utter lack of evidence.

i wish i found this double standard surprising, but alas, after the past 8 years i don't.
12.13.2008 4:13pm
Kazinski:
Newsreader,
Your post shows your not really much of a student of how the Justice Department works. Neither am I but I do know the investigation is being handled autonomously by the US attorney in Chicago. Patrick Fitzgerald is a political appointee, but I can pretty much guarantee that his job is safe until this investigation and the major trials are over. I can't think of a better way for Obama to cripple his presidency than to fire Fitzpatrick when he gets into his office, even if it is part of a blanket replacement of all the US Attorneys.

Plus the fact that the Justice Department is mostly run by the career attorneys, which if I recall correctly, favored Obama significantly in their campaign contributions during the election by a margin of about 3-1. Even the Bush Department of Justice is pretty friendly territory for Obama.

However that is all pretty moot, I don't think Obama has anything to worry about criminally, neither does Rahm Emanuel, or Valarie Jarrett. What they do have to worry about is any embarrassing facts about willing to look the other way while Blago sold the Senate seat to the highest bidder. I think it would be pretty hard for anything but a total whitewash to suppress things like that, if they do indeed exist.
12.13.2008 4:19pm
newsreader:
Neither am I but I do know the investigation is being handled autonomously by the US attorney in Chicago.


Are you willing to testify to that effect before a Congressional oversight committee, under oath, of your own personal knowledge?
12.13.2008 4:30pm
Hold on a Minute Here (mail):

What they do have to worry about is any embarrassing facts about willing to look the other way while Blago sold the Senate seat to the highest bidder.


Wait a minute...Blago sold the seat to the highest bidder? That happened? So who did he sell it to?

There's nothing in support of the idea that Obama et al let this happen. First, because it didn't happen - there was no sale. Second, because the main actor involved got busted for trying.
12.13.2008 4:33pm
LN (mail):

There's nothing in support of the idea that Obama et al let this happen. First, because it didn't happen - there was no sale. Second, because the main actor involved got busted for trying.


Oh gee I guess anyone who says anything bad about St. Barack is a racist! (/moron)
12.13.2008 4:37pm
Kazinski:
Newsreader,
This is Patrick Fitzgerald we are talking about. If he were at the beck and call of the Bush Adminstration Scooter Libby would still have his law license and would still be Dick Cheney's Chief of Staff.

Asserting that Fitzgerald is somehow being controlled by Washington is just ridiculous, he has already shown on a pretty high stakes case he doesn't give a rats ass about what the Bush Administration wants.
12.13.2008 4:43pm
newsreader:
This is Patrick Fitzgerald we are talking about.


As I posted just above:

Two former DoJ lawyers have raised serious questions regarding Mr Fitzgerald's ethics. One opinion in the Wall Street Journal from Victoria Toensing, who is a lawyer and former DoJ official. The other opinion in the New York Times from Barry Coburn, a former federal prosecutor.


Those questions may cast a different light on Mr Fitzgerald's decision to go public before he had an indictment.

Let me share one of my working theories with you:

•The null hypothesis: Republicans are gleeful 'cause scandal is fun when it hits the other party.

•The alternate hypothesis: Some people —on both sides of the partisan divide— are scared as hell, because they think Blago's shakedown should have been seen as routine political backscratching. Normal in politics today. Not really corrupt 'cause everyone does it. But Obama wouldn't play ball.

A lot of my understanding of how the DoJ actually works today comes from reading transcripts of oversight hearings.
12.13.2008 4:56pm
Kazinski:
Newsreader,
You can peruse this very site for comments in which I am extremely critical of Fitzgerald's ethics. Specifically that he knew well before Libby's grand jury testimony who the real leaker was, but he still baited a perjury trap for Libby, for reasons still unknown. If Bob Woodward hadn't come forward we may never have known what Fitzgerald knew all along, that Richard Armitage was the leaker.

Patrick Fitgerald is a prosecutorial pitbull, and I agree that his ethics are questionable. But nobody seriously asserts that somebody in Washington is pulling his strings. The very notion is ridiculous.

You really should read the news more.
12.13.2008 5:12pm
LM (mail):
jim Lindgren,

So I was correct that Obama was indeed drawing a distinction between what he knew and what his staff might have known.

This was never in doubt, which is why the distinction isn't Clintonian. Anyone who read the complaint knows there was some kind of contact between Obama's staff and Blago's. Obama knows that, he knows everyone else knows it, and he knows everyone else knows he knows it. Reading that context out of his statements is what leads you to believe he's equivocating.
12.13.2008 5:19pm
MQuinn:
LM said:


jim Lindgren,


So I was correct that Obama was indeed drawing a distinction between what he knew and what his staff might have known.




This was never in doubt, which is why the distinction isn't Clintonian. Anyone who read the complaint knows there was some kind of contact between Obama's staff and Blago's. Obama knows that, he knows everyone else knows it, and he knows everyone else knows he knows it. Reading that context out of his statements is what leads you to believe he's equivocating.

Bingo. I think that is a great point, and it warranted repeating.
12.13.2008 5:30pm
newsreader:
You really should read the news more.


I'm somewhat of a fan of the Impressionist movement in painting: Toulouse-Lautrec, Monet, Manet, Seurat.

Reading the news gives one an impression of events as they occur.
12.13.2008 5:47pm
Elliot123 (mail):
I recall Obama bragged of his executive experience in managing his campaign team. Is he ignorant of what they were doing, or is the appointment of a US senator a detail he leaves to The Ones The World Has Been Waiting For?

Is it possible Emmanuel is just working for Obama until a Chicago alderman spot opens up?
12.13.2008 6:27pm
LM (mail):
Elliot123:

I recall Obama bragged of his executive experience in managing his campaign team. Is he ignorant of what they were doing, or is the appointment of a US senator a detail he leaves to The Ones The World Has Been Waiting For?

Good executives delegate. With the global financial order in freefall, cabinet and other high positions to fill, and a transition under way, yes, just which Democrat fills an open Senate seat might be something he'd entrust to others.
12.13.2008 6:41pm
jayder:
Isn't it possible that Obama knew that Blago had expectations of (perfectly legal, perfectly ethical) political horse-trading that Obama had no interest engaging in, due to a distrust of the unsavory Blago? Blago's expectation of favors and preferment in return for appointing Jarrett to the Senate seat would not be something you would report to law enforcement; on the other hand, selling the Senate seat would be. There's nothing in Lindgren's timeline that excludes the scenario that Obama simply did not like Blago, didn't trust Blago, damn sure didn't want to appoint Blago to anything, and therefore didn't want to engage in perfectly legitimate bargaining over the Senate seat. It could be that Obama simply didn't want to make a political deal with Blago, and that Obama knew nothing of Blago's crass attempts to sell the seat.
12.13.2008 6:42pm
CrazyTrain (mail):
Jayder -- your theory makes too much sense and is too logical for Jim to buy.
12.13.2008 7:07pm
LM (mail):
newsreader:

I'm somewhat of a fan of the Impressionist movement in painting: Toulouse-Lautrec, Monet, Manet, Seurat.

Reading the news gives one an impression of events as they occur.

If you're a fan of Toulouse-Lautrec and Seurat, then reading the news probably gives you more of a post or neo-impression of events as they occur.
12.13.2008 7:11pm
Canucklehead (mail):
If you want a comprehensive series of articles about Chicago politics, start with this article:

Final Chapter - Curtain Time for Barack Obama
12.13.2008 7:13pm
newsreader:
If you're a fan of Toulouse-Lautrec and Seurat, then reading the news probably gives you more of a post or neo-impression of events as they occur.

Naturellement, mon ami.
12.13.2008 7:17pm
Pierre Owner Bouncer Pink Flamingo Bar & Grill (www):

Obama had no interest engaging in, due to a distrust of the unsavory Blago? Blago's expectation of favors and preferment in return for appointing Jarrett to the Senate seat would not be something you would report to law enforcement; on the other hand, selling the Senate seat would be.


Guess Obama figured all of this out while he worked with Blago on two different campaigns? Now all of a sudden he gets cold feet...I guess Blago sort of felt like Obama owes him. Under the bus Blago...say hello to Rezko, Wright, Ayers, Khalidi, and Odinga.

Gee look at this...it appears that Hussein did in fact know how the game was played...and he played it with the dirtiest.


As the stakes get higher, Obama's friends have grown more cautious and protective -- and in some cases have attracted controversy. Whitaker's name surfaced as part of the scandal involving longtime Obama fundraiser Antoin "Tony" Rezko, because Obama had recommended his shy and studious friend to Rezko for a state job. The exchange took place after Rod Blagojevich was elected Illinois governor, and Whitaker applied for the head job at the state Public Health Department.

A Chicago developer and early Obama supporter, Rezko, acting as one of Blagojevich's liaisons, had contacted Obama to seek recommendations for state jobs. Obama singled out Whitaker, noting that he had already applied for the public health post. "I simply said, 'I think this guy is outstanding and is certainly somebody who is worthy of an interview,' " Obama told the Chicago Tribune in a lengthy interview recounting his Rezko contacts. Rezko was later convicted of federal corruption charges, and although the case did not implicate Obama, his Rezko association has caused him significant political embarrassment.


I'm guessing that this isn't the Rezko Obama knew...right?
12.13.2008 7:25pm
Kazinski:
Jayder,
Your scenario does make sense, but there is no need to speculate. Fitzgerald has at least some of the conversations on tape, we'll find out if Blago's pitch to Emanuel went over the line. I am perfectly willing to go along with the assumption that Emanuel didn't know of any illegal solicitations that were made. It certainly could be. I'm not calling for Emanuel to pull out as the chief of staff, at least not yet.

However, if Emanuel did know that Blago was trying to illegally sell the seat, and merely declined to participate, rather that taking affirmative actions to stop an act grievous to public trust, then he has to go. And the same for any other Obama advisers.
12.13.2008 7:26pm
Elliot123 (mail):
"Good executives delegate. With the global financial order in freefall, cabinet and other high positions to fill, and a transition under way, yes, just which Democrat fills an open Senate seat might be something he'd entrust to others."

They do indeed delegate, but rarely abbrogate on such an important matter. Most set a direction, assign responsibility, and monitor progress. Remember, this was happening when the Dems still had a chance at a 60 seat majority.

But, if he did just wash his hands of the issue, it provides a valuable glimpse into his management style.

"Rahm, I have a speech at the Parthenon, then Yani and I are scheduled for Giza. Work, work, work."

"Boss, North Korea..."

"Don't bother me with SunYatSen. The world's not waiting for him."

"But, Boss, the Iranians just set off..."

"Tell 'em I'll talk to any Arab any time."

"And Hurricane Michelle is off Florida..."

"No shit! And she can't swim a stroke."

"You gotta pay attention to this stuff..."

"Rahm, I delegate... let it out to the Universe... then wash my hands of it all. Did you know Lucas is doing the Giza light show? You know? ObiWanObama? Or is it ObiBamOwana? Ever play the pan flute? Then I have this national conversation on race relations, and we have to do something so minorities with shitty credit can get in on the Credit Default Swaps. Call Barney, or is he still calling in sick?

"I tell you what, Rahm, you take Iran, let Hillary do SunYatSen, and get one of those satellites on the Hurricane. Like they have on '24.' Get Edgar on it. Let me know how it all turns out."

"OK. You're the boss."

"And remember, Rahm, I deal with Vision... big things. I hope you remember that."
12.13.2008 7:27pm
The Reader:
None of us knows what happened, so all anyone can do is speculate. In order of probability, here are my best guesses:

1. Obama never talked to Blagojevich about the appointment of his successor. Emanuel's conversations consisted of delivering a list of acceptable candidates and listening to the usual back-and-forth. When it became apparent that Blagojevich was going to be selling the appointment, Emanuel went to the FBI.

2. Obama never talked to Blagojevich about the appointment of his successor, but Emanuel was in the thick of poltical horsetrading. When it became apparent that Blagojevich was going to be selling the appointment, Emanuel backed away and said nothing to anyone.

3. Obama did talk to Blagojevich about the appointment of his successor, but only in general terms. After that, Emanuel was in the thick of the political horsetrading. When it became apparent that Blagojevich was going to be selling the appointment, Emanuel backed away and said nothing to anyone.

If #1 is true, we'll find out from Fitzgerald's office at some point. Obama and Emanuel will come out smelling like roses, and the Republicans will have yet more egg on their face.

If #2 is true, Obama will drop Emanuel and it'll be a minor embarrassment. If #3 is true, Obama will drop Emanuel and it'll be a major embarrassment. Other possibilities would include Emanuel being in the thick of corrupt horsetrading, which would be a big problem, or worse yet, that both Obama and Emanuel were part of the corruption. I don't think either one of them is that stupid.
12.13.2008 7:29pm
LN (mail):
Canucklehead, from the story "Barack Obama: The Wizard of Oz":


The most trusted leaders of the Democratic party, such as John Kerry and Ted Kennedy, ought to be ashamed of themselves for supporting Barack Obama. With use of the internet, a fifth grader could connect the dots to show a picture of a guy who was picked up in college and carried up the political ladder by a corrupt gang of influence peddlers.

John McCain is just drooling waiting for Obama to become the nominee so that he can come out with the trail of dirt that the Democratic party is too afraid to reveal this late in the in the game. If nominated, Obama will not survive a month when faced with the Republican attack machine.


Insightful.
12.13.2008 7:30pm
Elliot123 (mail):
LN,

OK, how do you search the back posts for old stuff like that?
12.13.2008 7:33pm
Sara:
"But, if he did just wash his hands of the issue, it provides a valuable glimpse into his management style."

Well, will see how that goes over the next four years. We've seen how the other side does it, and are not impressed.

And it must kill you, Pierre Legrande, that Obama's approvals kept climbing all week. Almost at 70% approval, now. Those Americans!
12.13.2008 7:40pm
LN (mail):
Elliot123: I just followed the "Final Chapter" link Canucklehead posted and clicked on the "Wizard of Oz" link in the list of older stories at the top of the page. Sorry if I gave the impression of quoting Canucklehead; I was quoting Evelyn Pringle, an investigative journalist that Canucklehead linked to.

It strikes me that people have had a very hard time pointing out actual wrongdoing on Obama's part, from any part of his career. The best that anyone can come up with is that he had unsavory associates and allies that he didn't try to send to jail. For all the talk about how about dirty Chicago politics is, the fact of the matter seems to be that Obama rose to the Presidency without getting his hands very dirty.
12.13.2008 7:42pm
Sara:
Not that, LN, you see if, as the evidence suggests right now, Obama focuses his time and energy on making a fast and smooth transition and "big issues," instead of relatively small issues of partisan gain, it proves he is unfit to lead.
12.13.2008 8:02pm
The River Temoc (mail):
Obama gave him a toast at a Banquet attended by Ayers, Dohrn and Khalidi.

Now, I've been to quite a few banquets. I've even given a toast at some of them.

I've even given a toast at some of them where I don't know everyone in attendance.

Most likely, I've even given a toast at some of them where someone in the audience is less than six degrees separated from Kevin Bacon.

It's a conspiracy, a conspiracy I tell you.
12.13.2008 8:02pm
LM (mail):
Elliot123,

Google: [Commenter's screen name] site:volokh.com. You can narrow it down by adding a relevant topic term.
12.13.2008 8:09pm
LM (mail):
Elliot123:

They do indeed delegate, but rarely abbrogate on such an important matter. Most set a direction, assign responsibility, and monitor progress. Remember, this was happening when the Dems still had a chance at a 60 seat majority.

And as long as Blago named a Dem, which was a given, it didn't matter much which one. In light of the limited influence Obama could exert, and the negligible downside of not exerting any, this was not "such an important matter."
12.13.2008 8:14pm
Sara:
With respect to Khalidi, Obama was following in the footsteps of John McCain:

"In regards to Khalidi, however, the guilt-by-association game burns John McCain.

During the 1990s, while he served as chairman of the International Republican Institute (IRI), McCain distributed several grants to the Palestinian research center co-founded by Khalidi, including one worth half a million dollars.

A 1998 tax filing for the McCain-led group shows a $448,873 grant to Khalidi's Center for Palestine Research and Studies for work in the West Bank.

The relationship extends back as far as 1993, when John McCain joined IRI as chairman in January. Foreign Affairs noted in September of that year that IRI had helped fund several extensive studies in Palestine run by Khalidi's group, including over 30 public opinion polls and a study of "sociopolitical attitudes.""

With respect to Ayers, the funding for his educational work comes from McCain supporter and longtime Republican Annenberg.

With repect to Dohrn, she is a fellow valued professor, with, guess who, Jim Lindgren, the author of this post. They don't call this site a conspiracy for nothing
12.13.2008 8:25pm
Kazinski:
LN,
It strikes me that people have had a very hard time pointing out actual wrongdoing on Obama's part, from any part of his career.

It is extremly difficult for anybody to look at the Rezco real estate deal and not conclude that Rezco was providing a benefit worth about $500,000 to Obama. There is no information however to suggest it was illegal, or there was a quid pro quo. Rezco was charged and convicted for corruption unrelated to the Obama deal.

There is also pretty good evidence out there that Bill Ayers was the ghostwriter for "Dreams of My Father". Here is PDF with a full analysis. I don't think it is definitive but it is thought provoking. Again nothing illegal about if Ayers did write Dreams of My Father.
12.13.2008 8:53pm
wolfefan (mail):
Hi -

Is it just me, or in use of boldface, layout of his remarks, general tone, broad-brush name calling/insults, etc. is Pierre somewhat reminiscent of The Ace?
12.13.2008 8:54pm
LM (mail):
wolfefan,

Nah, Ace had that endearing Hannibal Lecter sense of humor.
12.13.2008 9:20pm
Sara:
Now Kazinski, when real scholars look at that claim about Dreams From My Father (it is From not Of), they find it "very implausible." Also, the techniques used have been discredited. Go to the Times of London (Timesonline.co.uk)website for November 2, 2008, they have the story: "Republicans try to use Oxford don to smear Barack Obama" (I would link it if I knew how).
12.13.2008 9:53pm
The Reader:
The usual wingnut suspects are salivating over this, but it's not hard to imagine a setup here. It would go like this:

Soon after Obama was elected, he meets with Blagojevich, and in that meeting Blago brings up the vacant Senate seat and says he'll want to put his guy in there. Obama says it's a bit too early for him to react, but that within a week or so he'll send over a list of his recommendations.

Emanuel delivers the list, later adding one name to it. In a meeting (or phone call) with Blago or his representative, Emanuel gives his reasons for each candidate, and runs through the political ramifications of each pick. At that meeting (or phone call), or maybe in a subsequent one, Blago explodes and says, "Look, you S.O.B., that Senate seat isn't coming for free, not for you or for whoever I pick." Emanuel, knowing of Blago's reputation for stupidity and corruption, takes it all in, leaves the meeting, and calls the F.B.I.

He's soon in Fitzgerald's office, where Emanuel's told that the whole conversation has been caught on a wiretap, and would you be willing to have another conversation or two that we'll use to nail Blago and a few others? Okay, Emanuel says, but we've got to figure out how to keep my boss's name crystal clean here. The deal is that Obama has to be told, and that once Blago is arrested Fitzgerald will make clear that Obama is not involved.

Now, if this is what happened, have any of Obama's statements until now been false or misleading? I don't think so. Would it be in his interest to let the wingnuts get overheated and hope that the MSM starts chiming in? Yup, because once the prosecution gets underway it'll all come out in the wash and whoever impunged Obama and/or Emanuel's character will be utterly discredited.

I can see that about half of the wingnut "Pajamas Network" has taken the bait. Let's see how things work out from here. Wingnuts, you'd better be careful, because I don't think the people you are dealing with exactly fell off the turnip truck yesterday. I grew up in Chicago, and I've seen this sort of thing happen more than once.
12.13.2008 9:59pm
Elliot123 (mail):
"Now Kazinski, when real scholars look at that claim about Dreams From My Father (it is From not Of), they find it "very implausible."

Real schlars have little effect on political battles.
12.13.2008 10:24pm
Kazinski:
Sara,
When it comes to analyzing to texts to see if they come from different or the same authors, I wouldn't trust scholars on either side of the question. The only thing I would trust is software that has a track record of being able to match texts from authors statistically, and diffentiate the texts from other authors of the same genre and time period. What the PDF I linked to shows is some similarities between Ayers Fugitive Days and Dreams from my Father, but not to Audacity of Hope.

What of course is missing from the analysis is a firm statistical basis for quantifying the similarities and confidence intervals that would indicate the likelihood of the same author. Until then the study is just interesting, but certainly not definitive.

But some professor's opinion isn't worth 2 cents, no matter what side of the question he come down on.
12.13.2008 10:30pm
Brian K (mail):
They do indeed delegate, but rarely abbrogate on such an important matter. Most set a direction, assign responsibility, and monitor progress. Remember, this was happening when the Dems still had a chance at a 60 seat majority.

are you implying that a democrat governor from a largely democrat state in choosing to replace the senate seat of the democrat president-elect would appoint a republican? now i know why you find lindgren's statements believable.
12.13.2008 11:20pm
LN (mail):
You find the argument that Ayers ghostwrote Obama's book convincing? Or even suggestive? Bwahahahahahahaha.

Seriously LOL.

Ayers ghostwrote Obama's memoir six years before he wrote his own?

Obama's memoir reveals that the author is a good writer, deeply concerned with authenticity, considerate of different points of view, and prone to take himself extremely seriously. Gee, if Ayers didn't ghostwrite Dreams from My Father, how could I continue to make sense of this world?

And then this PDF of analysis?? Dreams has 438 instances of "as a" and Fugitive Days has 568 instances of "as a"? One book uses 5% of available cliches, the other uses 7% of them, but they have 62% in common -- isn't this only surprising if all cliches are equally likely to be used? Where's the good faith effort to find a benchmark?

Funny all the way through.
12.13.2008 11:25pm
LN (mail):
Oh, plus the fact that it appears that Obama met Ayers in 1995, and Dreams was published in 1995. "Oh hello Mr. Ayers I'm a 34-year-old with a contract to write a book about race because I was just the first black President of Harvard Law Review. I heard you were a 60s radical; could you please spend a couple weeks writing my book up for me, just so that when I run for President in 13 years I can really tick off the right-wing nutjobs? I really liked the memoir you wrote 6 years in the future, so anything like that would be good."
12.13.2008 11:34pm
Brian G (mail) (www):
I didn't vote for Mr. Obama but that doesn't mean I am going to hate him and say he isn'y my President like the BDS dopes have done for the past 8 years. I need him to do well as do the rest of us. Hating him or trying to catch him in scandal helps no one.

Anyway, there is a part of me that believes that Obama and Emanuel are so used to this type of crap they really didn't think much of it. And, there is a part of me that wonders how the FBI found out (if I missed how, I am sure someone will let me know) and suspects they may have found out from the Obama people, who obviously can't admit turning on a fellow Democrat, especially so soon after being elected.

Anyway, that scumbag Blagovich is the issue here, not Obama, and he needs to be dealt with accordingly. Of course, if someone can show me evidence that Obama was in on it and wanted his cut, that would be different. I am quite sure that isn't the case. If Obama wanted some money for himself, there is a sweet left over election war chest that could find its way into his pocket pretty much unnoticed.

And again, this is someone that didn't support Obama and will very likely not vote for him in 2012.
12.14.2008 12:33am
Kazinski:
LN,
I'd say a more plausible timeline for them meeting would be 1988 when Obama's Developing Communities Organization was part of Ayers' ABC Coalition.

You might also note that Ayers is a pretty prolific author, here is a list of his books, at least 14 were published before Fugitive Days, so that was hardly Ayers maiden effort.

The evidence certainly is not there to convince me even to a preponderance standard, and I have not read either work. But I have seen some evidence supporting the theory, I haven't seen any evidence that would rule it out. I've already stated what would convince me either way: statistical evidence using a proven methodology. Right now I just sticking with "Its an intriguing possibility".
12.14.2008 12:40am
Nick056:
The Rezko deal is great as well. Since Rezko didn't pay for anything, didn't improve or develop anything, and didn't buy and resell anything, the allegations have to take this shape: because Rezko bought a plot adjacent to Obama's property, and because Obama wound up paying less than the listing price for his property, but Rezko paid the listing price for his, Rezko saved Obama $300,000.

Oh, yes. There's the issue of the seller wanting to unload both properties around the same time. One account desccribes them as "listed for sale together." What if Rezko bought his property at full price on the condition that Obama get a discount from the seller? Well, if Rezko, the seller, and Obama were all in on it -- and they'd have to be -- why wouldn't Rezko pay *more* than the listed price? I mean, that's some sweetheart deal: "Hey, the Obama family would like a discount on their home, and their influential, so I'd like to help them out. What say I offset that, sweeten the pot for you on the second propety ... by agreeing to pay what you're asking in the first place. Huh, how's *that* for a deal?"

Isn't the simpler explanation the more likely one -- that the two properties were negotiated separately, and Obama was able to get below the asking price, but Rezko wasn't? I mean, that's one perfectly sensible and consistent explanation of events, and, by virtue of being both obvious and clear, beats a scheme whereby Rezko, Obama, and the seller were all conspiring to adjust the final price for the two lots -- Obama gets a cash break, Rezko gets influence, and the seller gets ... nothing. At all. Sorry, but it's just more likely that Obama's property had no other offers, whereas Rezko had to outbid someone.

Did Rezko have innocent motives? Perhaps not. Obama conceeded as much -- he said it occured to him that Rezko might be buying the property to establish proximity with the Obama family.

There's still the final, crucial matter of Obama paying Rezko $104,000 for a parcel of land appraised at far less. He wanted to expand his yard. This is supposed to represent another instance of influence peddling, but Obam here is personally paying Rezko. He's not giving him a contract or dipping into public funds or anything else -- he's paying him with his own money. How does a politician giving a developer his own cash amount to corruption? That's the reverse of a corrupt bargain.
12.14.2008 12:52am
LN (mail):

I'd say a more plausible timeline for them meeting would be 1988 when Obama's Developing Communities Organization was part of Ayers' ABC Coalition.


Your link makes no mention of the Developing Communities Organization, the ABC Coalition, or 1988.
12.14.2008 1:10am

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