Obama, Rezko, Blago...Oh My!
Obama’s Helpful Hand in Blago-Rezko ‘Pay-to-Play’ Scheme
By Abraham Miller (Guest Commentary)
Against the backdrop of Chicago’s Wacker Drive, Fox News’ Greta Van Susteren stood and analyzed Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich’s most recent “pay-to-play” scheme, the auctioning of President-elect Barack Obama’s seat in the U.S. Senate.
Absent from the analysis of Governor Blagojevich’s role as auctioneer was the governor’s involvement in an earlier scandal. That earlier story went generally untouched by the media — outside of Chicago — because it had a direct bearing on the character of then-presidential candidate and media darling Barack Obama.
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President-elect’s convenient ignorance
When your pals are corrupt, ignorance is bliss
As President-elect Barack Obama prepares for the Oval office, his transition into power has been interrupted by the recent arrest of Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich. The indicted Democrat allegedly tried to sell the President-elect’s vacant senate seat to the highest bidder. Obama has not been implicated in any wrong doing, but keeping with the tradition of Chicago politics, unethical people and corruption once again surround our next President. Regarding his own tradition of ignorance, Obama is clueless to the behavior of the people around him.
Let’s put the current debacle in perspective.
U.S. Senator from Illinois, Barack Obama, was just elected President of the United States. Soon after the election, he submitted his letter of resignation from the senate, so the governor, an avid campaign supporter, could appoint a replacement. When the current scandal broke, Obama was asked if he ever discussed his replacement with Blagojevich. He responded by publicly stating, “I have not discussed the Senate seat with the governor at any time.”
Reality check: Does it make any sense that the President-elect wouldn’t take five minutes to pick up the phone and call the governor, who decides his replacement, to discuss the vacancy? Add the fact that he made it known (leaked) that he wanted the seat to go to long time friend and advisor Valerie Jarrett.
Is it conceivable at all?
In the world of Barack Obama, there certainly is precedent to believe in what can only be described as convenient ignorance.
President-elect Obama spent more than twenty years as member of Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago. The church pastor, Rev. Jeremiah Wright, is a man he has lavishly praised. Wright married the President-elect and his wife, baptized their children and has been credited by Obama as his spiritual mentor. But during the Presidential primaries it was revealed that Wright preaches racism, despises America and promotes anti-Semitism.
"I wasn't in church during the time that these statements were made. I did not hear such incendiary language myself, personally. Either in conversations with him or when I was in the pew, he always preached the social gospel,” Obama repeatedly said.
For twenty years he prayed with and sought guidance from his pastor. Wright was an intricate part of Obama and his family’s life. But he never knew his spiritual advisor harbored so many hateful feelings.
During the Presidential race America had the misfortune of reopening an old wound known as William Ayers. The unrepentant domestic terrorist turned college professor was a member of the 1960’s radical group the Weather Underground. This group was responsible for numerous bombings that included the Pentagon and U.S. Capitol. Ayers and his wife, fellow Underground member Bernadine Dohrn, were also implicated in the murder of a San Francisco police officer.
When reports surfaced during the primary that Ayers and his wife played an intricate role in Obama’s early political career, as well as the fact that the two served together on a board for a non-profit group, Obama and his staff went into convenient ignorance mode.
He “didn't know the history” of William Ayers, said Obama’s chief campaign strategist, and current senior advisor, David Axelrod.
Obama studied political science at Columbia University and has a Jurist Doctor from Harvard Law School. However when it comes to knowing U.S. history, including the political turmoil of the 1960’s, which prominently features Ayers and his wife, he is conveniently ignorant.
The number of incidents in which Barack Obama had no knowledge of criminal activity, bigotry or unethical behavior amongst friends, family and advisors is disconcerting.
Since Chicago politics has once again become a favorite target of late-night comedians, who can forget Obama and Blagojevich fundraiser Anton “Tony” Rezko. The man who advised the President-elect when he purchased his Chicago home and sold him property on the adjacent lot, was convicted of 16 felony counts, including fraud, money laundering and bribery conspiracy.
At least in this case Obama admitted that his dealing with Rezko was a “mistake.” Regarding his friend’s criminal activity, Obama said, “This isn't the Tony Rezko I knew.” I always found that remark pathetically naïve. Everyone else in Cook County politics knew that’s exactly who Rezko was.
The examples I used to showcase Obama’s convenient ignorance, is only the tip of the iceberg. I won’t rehash the discussions about anti-Israel advisors Samantha Powers and Robert Malley or his friendship with Columbia University professor and former PLO spokesman, Rashid Khalidi.
I’m sure the President-elect never knew his foreign policy advisors despise Israel and his teaching buddy called the establishment of the Jewish State a “catastrophe.”
As the Blagojevich soap opera unravels, the President-elect’s senior advisor, David Axelrod, has already had to retract a statement that contradicted Obama’s claim that he never discussed the vacant senate seat with the indicted governor.
During a November 23 interview with the Fox affiliate in Chicago, Axelrod said “I know he has talked to the governor,” referring to the senate seat. At the time they were forgetful remarks. Today they mean the next President of the United States is dishonest.
Axelrod has issued a statement claiming that he was “mistaken” during the interview and that Obama and Blagojevich, “did not then or at any time discuss the subject.”
Call it a Christmas miracle!
The latest Obama confidant to get caught-up in “Blagogate,” is Chief of Staff to the President-elect, Rahm Emanuel. According to the Chicago Tribune, Emanuel did have “conversations with Gov. Rod Blagojevich's administration about who would replace Obama in the U.S. Senate.”
This recent revelation contradicts Obama’s statement that he was "confident that no representatives" of his staff had engaged in any negotiations with the governor over the senate seat.
There are very few certain truths in politics. One thing that is for sure is that the Blagojevich scandal won’t be going away soon. As the walls come crumbling down, so will the skeletons hidden in the closet of various Chicago Democrats.
If the Blagojevich indictment and continued investigation has more political casualties, will any of them have any ties to the President-elect?
This of course is all speculation. What is not speculation is how Obama will react if anybody with ties to the President-elect is found to be involved in criminal or unethical behavior.
“That isn’t (insert name) that I knew.”
As President of the United States, convenient ignorance is never convenient.