Kathy Petersen’s Blog

Obama and Blagojevich

Posted in politics by Kathy on December 11, 2008

Ok, so the evidence is pretty conclusive that Blagojevich was involved in pay-to-play politics — since he is the only person who can appoint a person to the now-vacant Illinois Senate seat, it seems he was offering it to the highest bidder. Of course, since the seat was vacated by President-elect Obama, the question then becomes, was he involved in it in any way?

The thing that intrigues me most of this is the developing story (and the subsequent denials, “misquotes” and altered memories). Before there was any hint of scandal, one of Obama’s staff said that Obama had been in contact with the Governor (or perhaps this was done through liaisons) on who Obama wanted to fill the vacant seat. No biggee — that is in fact understandable, that if you won the Senate seat fair and square (of course, this is Chicago we’re talking about, so I’m using that term loosely!), that you’d want to have some input or suggestion on who should fill the vacancy, to be best able to represent your constituents — the people who originally elected you to the 6-year term. In other words, it is to be expected that Obama or somebody acting for him would get in contact with the Governor or somebody acting for him and suggest a person to fill the seat, maybe even lobby hard for him or her.

But now Obama (and by that I mean him and those associated with him — his staff and underlings who do business in his name) is saying that he had no contact with the Governor’s office about this. Is that believable? Ok, I guess I can buy that. But why did the first person lie? (Oh, no, I forgot — he just “mis-remembered” that Obama spoke with the Governor concerning who to fill the Senate seat. Yeah.) So if what’s-his-name (Axelrod, was it?) was wrong, it sounds like he was posturing — “Oh, yes, Obama can be in two places at once!” sort of thing — of course he wouldn’t let down his constituents by having no input into who would be chosen to represent them. So, it could be spun that Obama didn’t care enough about the citizens of Illinois to even suggest the most suitable replacement. But what if he did?

See, what’s the big deal about whether or not Obama mentioned a name? If you look at the transcript of the taped conversations, it seems obvious that Blagojevich talked to somebody authorized to speak for Obama, who was acting entirely honest and above-board and never offered any money or position or prestige in exchange for the Senate appointment. This also coincides with what Axelrod was quoted as saying on Nov. 23 — that the President-elect was in contact with the Governor about possible replacements. So, why wouldn’t Obama just say, “Well, of course, as the out-going Senator, I spoke with the Governor of the state to suggest a person (or a few people) who I thought would be the best choices for filling the vacancy”? Why not? It’s believable. In fact, it’s more believable than, “No, I cared so little about the state of Illinois or politics in general that I dropped them like a hot potato as soon as I was declared the winner of the Presidential race.”

If Obama hadn’t talked to Blagojevich about a suitable replacement, why wasn’t there a correction from the Obama camp following the Axelrod interview? That’s one interesting thing to consider.

Another is, if Obama did not talk to Blagojevich, why is it in the transcript that Blagojevich got flaming mad when Obama (or his authorized representative) did not offer anything for the seat? Just from what I read, it sounds like Blagojevich and Obama did not talk one-on-one, but rather that the Governor and possibly the President-elect used intermediaries. Otherwise, Blagojevich wouldn’t have asked what Obama offered, and been so mad when he found out that the answer was “nothing.” So I would say that the transcript clears Obama (and his authorized representatives) of any immediate wrong-doing in the scandal, in that he did not offer any sort of bribe in order to get the person he wanted appointed.

So why the denials? Why the obfuscation? And how to account for the transcript if there was no contact between the two parties at all?

Is it possible that while Obama (or an authorized representative) declined to try to bribe Blagojevich, that if it became public that he was approached by Blagojevich with an expectation of graft, and Obama did not report this, that he could be guilty of breaking some law. Which is a suitable explanation for why there is a denial of any contact, when that is almost not logical (unless Obama and Blagojevich were political enemies — which is possible, if Blagojevich wanted to run for the Presidency and was preempted by Obama; or if there was some other “bad blood” between them that we don’t know of — although they each endorsed the other in their most recent political runs), and in fact is contradicted by both the Axelrod interview and the transcript itself.

So, it’s possible that one of Obama’s underlings talked to one of Blagojevich’s underlings, and the President-elect did not speak personally to the Governor. Then, Obama can truthfully say that he did not speak to the Governor about a replacement. But if your authorized representatives talk to each other, it’s still deceptive to say that you didn’t. But why didn’t Obama just say, “Of course I suggested a person whom I think would best represent the people of the state of Illinois to someone in the Governor’s office, but at no time was there any attempt at corruption”? — unless there was?

Can you imagine the fall-out if somewhere on these tapes is Obama talking to one of Blagojevich’s lackeys in which the lackey starts to hint or even press Obama for some sort of ambassadorship for the Governor or his wife, or something of that nature, in exchange for appointing so-and-so to the vacant Senate seat? Yikes! Talk about being tainted!

And that’s the conclusion the denials have led me to — that Obama or an authorized representative did indeed talk to somebody in the Governor’s office about a Senate replacement, and that Obama did not offer any political exchange, and that if such was suggested, that he declined any graft for the Governor. How much Obama knew and how much he was shielded from knowing about a suggestion of graft can only be known by Obama and any intermediaries. But it stinks. Even if Obama did nothing illegal, it still stinks — and if he was aware of the corruption that was being attempted by Gov. Blagojevich and did nothing….

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4 Responses

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  1. wilsonrofishing said, on December 11, 2008 at 4:07 pm

    Talking to Blagojevich at any time in the last 40 days or so = bad idea.

  2. goodtimepolitics said, on December 12, 2008 at 7:08 pm

    Obama said no one in his staff had contact with Blagojevich about the senate seat! Well thats not what I have read, check out my blog when you get the time. šŸ™‚

    Yeah, new and interesting things are coming to light all the time! šŸ™‚ I hear that Rahm Emmanuel had several meetings with Gov. Blagojevich. I’d love to have the transcripts of *those* conversations! šŸ™‚

  3. […] that his home-state governor was playing political hardball in the weeks before his arrest (5) Obama and Blagojevich Possibly related posts: (automatically generated)ā€˜I did not have sex with that […]

  4. coffee fiend said, on January 7, 2009 at 8:30 am

    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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