Obama’s Blago Problem
So, it didnâ€™t take long for the taint of scandal to hit Barack Obamaâ€™s not-yet-in-power administration. With the arrest of Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich, itâ€™s hard for anyone but the hardest core Obamaphiles to wonder what Obamaâ€™s relationship with Blagojevich is and whether the president-elect or his people had any dealings with the governor concerning the appointment of Obamaâ€™s successor in the senate.
As Steve Benen of Washington Monthly notes, the media isnâ€™t waiting for any proof of wrongdoing by Obama before jumping onto the story and pressing Obama for answers. Some of this is due to the mediaâ€™s constant need for a juicy story. But part of it is also due to some very real questions.
Rick Klein of ABCâ€™s â€œThe Noteâ€ has a long look at the contradictions in the Obama teamâ€™s statements concerning Obamaâ€™s relationship and contacts with Blagojevich.
Dick Polman takes the questions a step further:
Notwithstanding the fact that Obama isn’t accused of any wrongdoing in the federal complaint, is it possible for an aspiring reform politician to navigate the traditional Chicago/Illinois political culture and emerge with squeaky-clean hands? What’s the accurate extent of the taint (if any)? Does Obama have dirt on his nails or mud on his palms? Has he been in bed with Hot Rod, substantively so, or is this merely a facile case of guilt-by-association?
As Polman notes, itâ€™s possible to maneuver the Chicago machine and still be clean. Adlai Stevenson and Paul Simon both succeeded in Illinois without being dirty. Obama could very well be of the same mold.
For me, the concern isnâ€™t that Obama may be corrupt (I donâ€™t believe he is). The question is whether he too easily suffers the corrupt or is too willing to look the other way. Can he live up to his promises to be a reformer? Maybe the Blagojevich case will spur him to fight against the very system of corruption he had to maneuver while in Illinois. Maybe not. Time will tell.