Obama’s “Transparency” Many Shades Of Gray In Blagojevich Scandal

One of the more annoying things Obama promised us over and over again was that his would be “the most open and transparent administration” in history.  Year after year we see politicians selling us the same cans of goods, and year after year we end up getting rotten snake meat.

Well, newsflash to those who forgot to pay attention when Obama promised to serve his entire six-year Senate term and NOT run for President:

MR. RUSSERT:  Before you go, you know there’s been enormous speculation about your political future.  Will you serve your full six-year term as U.S. senator from Illinois?

SEN.-ELECT OBAMA:  Absolutely.

Or when he promised to accept public campaign financing:

Common Cause: “If you are nominated for President in 2008 and your major opponents agree to forgo private funding in the general election campaign, will you participate in the presidential public financing system?”

Obama: “Yes.”

Obama lied.

In the immediate aftermath of the Blagojevich arrest, Obama told Americans that:

“I had no contact with the governor or his office and so we were not, I was not aware of what was happening.” — Barack Obama on December 9th

But that didn’t hold water, given this photo of the two men take just one week earlier:

Blagojevich shaking hands with Barack Obama on December 2nd

Blagojevich shaking hands with Barack Obama on December 2nd

Now, it doesn’t seem to me that this is one of those moments where the experts have to study the tape from several different angles in slow motion.  I see “contact” in that handshake.  They were together.  And the most relevant thing they had to discuss between themselves would have been Barack Obama’s open Senate seat, and who should fill it.

As Fox News puts it:

Compounding the headache for Obama is a statement made and since retracted by Obama top adviser David Axelrod that Obama and Blagojevich had discussed the Senate seat.

Axelrod told FOX News Chicago on Nov. 23: “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 retracted his statement to spin the truth at the same velocity as his boss, but come ON.

The really incredible thing about this is that it would only make total SENSE for Obama to talk to Blagojevich about who would replace him.  There would have been nothing illegal, unethical, or even improper for him to do so.  Furthermore, I can’t for the life of me figure out why President-elect Obama would even contemplate risking his presidency to pay a bribe to buy back the Senate seat he’d vacated.  How could it possibly be worth the risk to him?  And yet the denials and the obfuscation of the truth.  You get reminded of Shakespeare’s words, “Methinks thou dost protest too much.”

Then we find out that there was a November 10 2-hour long conference call during which Gov. Blagojevich specifically asked for what he could get for Obama’s vacated Senate seat.  It appears as though the conference call – recorded as part of the FBI wiretap – details criminal conspiracy.  Obama claims that he and his staff had no knowledge of these activities, and yet within hours of that call “CNN reported that ‘two Democratic sources close to President-elect Barack Obama tell CNN that top adviser Valerie Jarrett will not be appointed to replace him in the U.S. Senate.'”

You have to start asking: what did Obama know and when did he know it?

The Volokh Conspiracy has an article that sums up the issue: “The Blagojevich Timeline: Everything Fits Easily Except Obama’s Monday Denial.”

And now we’re beginning to find out that President-elect Obama’s own chief of staff Rahm Emanuel was himself picked up in the FBI wiretaps.

And I don’t think I need to define “open” and “transparent” for you to demonstrate that the Obama camp isn’t doing much of either:

Emanuel has refused to comment as to whether he is the un-named presidential adviser cited in the FBI affidavit filed in the Blagojevich case. “You’re wasting your time,” Emanuel told a Chicago Sun Times reporter yesterday. “I’m not going to say a word to you.”

Without having heard the tapes containing the Emanuel-Blagojevich conversations, I can only safely say one thing: we can expect a prolific use of every tense of the F-word.

And the most “transparent” administration EVER is already saying, “Stop asking questions” more than two months before they even assume the White House.

Fox News ran this story about just how “Open for Questions” the Obama team is:

The Obama-Biden transition team has launched a new feature on its Web site called “Open for Questions” which is designed to be an open forum for users to ask policy and issue questions. However, it is subject to what amounts to censorship by other users because the more votes an entry gets the higher it moves on the overall list. But some questions are being downplayed by Obama supporters who are trying to remove the entries entirely.

Postings concerning Democratic Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich are being flagged as “inappropriate” by some users — leading the questions to be removed from the main list. Only by searching key words such as “Blagojevich” can one find those questions.

“Is Barack Obama aware of any communications in the last six weeks between Rod Blagojevich or anyone representing Rod Blagojevich and any of Obama’s top aides?” asks Phil from Pennsylvania. But the text underneath that posting reads, “This submission was removed because people believe it is inappropriate.”

Another flagged entry reads, “Why are reasoned questions about Blagojevich being flagged as inappropriate and voted down? I would personally like to hear more from our president-elect about the state of politics in his home state.”

I don’t see this issue being over Obama trying to buy his own Senate seat back.  Rather, I see it more about “Questions Arise About Obama/Blagojevich Relationship.”  It is embarassing enough that Barack Obama TWICE enthusiastically endorsed Blagojevich for Governor – even in 2006 AFTER he was already embroiled in political scandal and investigations.

In 2002 we have Barack Obama in an interview:

State Senator Barack Obama (D-Chicago): …right now, my main focus is to make sure that we elect Rod Blagojevich as Governor, we—

Jeff Berkowitz: You working hard for Rod?

Barack Obama: You betcha.

We can go back to Jeremiah Wright and Trinity United Church, where Obama spent 23 years listening to hateful, racist, and anti-American sermons, and question Obama’s personal judgment.  We can go back to Tony Rezko and several other Chicago figures and question Obama’s willingness to look the other way while scumbags acted like scumbags.  We can look at Obama’s relationship with figures like William Ayers, Rasheed Khalidi, Michael Pfleger, and others and question Obama’s ties to extremely radical behavior.

The beauty of Rod Blagojevich is that it puts the whole package – personal judgment, willingness to look the other way, and radical associations – all into one basket.

And this brings back a lot of behavior that the media was simply unwilling to look at during the campaign.  Tony Rezko was a top Blagojevich bag man, using bribery, pay-to-play, and intimidation to get money and favors for Democrats.  Rod Blagojevich’s wife Patricia was part of the incredibly suspicious house deal in which Obama and Rezko teamed up to buy property in an arrangement that was clearly intended to benefit a Barack Obama who at the time did not have the money for such a venture.

The media have fallen all over themselves to point out for all to know that Barack Obama is innocent of any wrongdoing.  But in the background, the very bleeping vitriole of Blagojevich’s language about Obama directly implies that Blagojevich had a conversation about selling the seat with Obama surrogates, and didn’t like the answer he got.  And that undermines Obama’s denials, and also raises the question why Obama’s team didn’t notify law enforcement of such blatant official corruption.

The thing I wonder about – as this fiasco slowly moves forward – is what Rod Blagojevich will say about Barack Obama as he starts to name names in an effort to reduce his sentence.  Blagojevich has been dirty for years, and Barack Obama came out of the most corrupt political establishment this country has ever seen; what does Blagojevich know about Obama’s dealings?

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One Response to “Obama’s “Transparency” Many Shades Of Gray In Blagojevich Scandal”

  1. coffee fiend Says:

    i’m hoping Blagojevich will inspire Congress to finally grow a pair and start doing what’s best for the people they represent (by putting this guy away for a long time)

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