DUSTY RHODES: GOP Twists Itself in Knots To Tie Obama, Blagojevich
I suppose, after the deranged behavior of some so-called "conservatives" during the Clinton presidency, it should come as no surprise that there is already a large cohort of wingnuts whose burning hatred for President-Elect Barack Obama makes the rage-zombies from the movie "28 Days" look like a bunch of mildly vexed Sunday school teachers.
It must have seemed like an early Christmas present to them when Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich got arrested for trying to sell Obama's now-vacant Senate seat.
Unfortunately, when you look at the facts alleged in U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald's indictment of Blagojevich, that "Christmas present" seems a lot more like the cheap polyester socks you found under the tree when you thought you were getting a new bike.
Not that this is any defense of Blagojevich. The guy was not only a corrupt sleazeball, but a particularly brazen one. He let it be known far and wide that the Senate seat (which, as governor, he was empowered to fill) was up to the highest bidder, and if he didn't like what was being offered, he'd just appoint himself.
He did everything but put the seat up on eBay.
He also tried to tie state aid to the embattled (and now bankrupt) Tribune Company to the firing of Chicago Tribune editors who had criticized him.
But tying Barack Obama to Blagojevich's corrupt ways is going to take a lot of stretching, even by the relaxed standards of truth and nonexistent standards of logic currently in place in the Republican Party.
When the president-elect comes up in the allegations, it's in the context of Blagojevich either speculating about how he may try to leverage a Cabinet post or ambassadorship out of the new administration, or cursing them bitterly for refusing to play ball.
To quote the affidavit that's attached to the indictment: "Rod Blagojevich said he knows that the president-elect wants Senate Candidate 1 for the Senate seat but 'they're not willing to give me anything except appreciation. [Bad word] them.'" Fitzgerald noted in his inevitable press conference touting Blagojevich's arrest that "We make no allegations that he (Obama) was aware of anything."
Let's sum up: There's no evidence that President-Elect Barack Obama was in any way involved in Blagojevich's schemes or even knew of them. Blagojevich even calls President-Elect Barack Obama and his staff rude names because they won't play along or offer him "anything but appreciation" for appointing President-Elect Barack Obama's favorite candidate. President-Elect Barack Obama has now called for Blagojevich to step down.
Clearly this is a huge blot on the reputation of the president-elect. How can he possibly govern now?
(And yes, I know I used "President-Elect Barack Obama" a lot in that last paragraph. While the frequent repetition of that phrase may seem a bit clumsy, prose-wise, I'm just tickled by the thought of wingnut heads exploding whenever they read those words. But I'll quit now.)
But, you say, this just shows that Obama is tainted by the corrupt political environment of Chicago. After all, when you swim in waters this polluted, certainly some of that pollution sticks to you.
Oh, really? Seems to me that two of the GOP's "rising stars," Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, preside over states with a fair amount of political corruption. Louisiana is as legendary for political corruption as Chicago ever was, and recent revelations out of the previously little-known corridors of Alaska government have led some pundits to christen it "the Louisiana of the Arctic."
If we can assume that some high-profile politician being dirty in a state taints all other high profile politicians in that state, then the indictment and conviction of Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens and Louisiana Sen. David Vitter's recent hooker-related scandal ought to doom the political futures of Sarah Palin and Bobby Jindal.
Funny, isn't it, how the GOP gets all indignant when you bring that up. It's like I've said before: The Republicans may have thrown down and danced upon every principle for which they once claimed to stand, but they are rock-solid on one core belief: Everything's OK if you're a Republican.
Oh, I'm sure the Republicans will attempt to spin this as an Obama scandal. They've already started, judging from RNC press releases.
It's just like when they tried during the campaign to make Obama out as a terrorist because he was on a committee with a washed-up Sixties radical.
To the Republican spin doctors, guilt by osmosis is an article of faith. You can be tainted by being in the same room with an unsavory character, whether or not there's any evidence you even knew the guy was a scoundrel. Unless, of course, you're a Republican.
Well, we all saw how well that trick worked. Someday, maybe, the Republicans will actually come forward with some reasons to like them, rather than tying themselves in knots trying to find reasons to hate and fear the other guys.
Dusty Rhoades lives, writes, and practices law in Carthage.
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