We've seen this show before: specious attempts to connect Barack Obama with corrupt or controversial figures in Chicago, followed, then, by a Republican and establishment media outcry for the president-elect to denounce and reject them.
A friend wrote earlier today:
I'm pretty sure you can tie Obama to the first Daley administration and its attendant corruption. Also, wasn't Obama somehow connected to Chicago crime boss Al Capone? And are you going to tell me that Chicago-based Obama was never involved in milking Mrs. O'Leary's arsonist cow?
We just can't be sure, can we? To be on the safe side, perhaps the president-elect ought to denounce and reject the cow anyway. Forcefully. Several times. While he's at it, how about rejecting Principal Rooney from the Chicago-based movie Ferris Bueller's Day Off? Breaking and entering the Bueller household through the dog door? I mean, come on, Mr. President-elect! That's not only a felony but also an egregious abuse of high school administrative power, sir, and you must denounce it.
It began yesterday with the RNC demanding to know the full extent of the president-elect's relationship with Blagojevich even though Patrick Fitzgerald was perfectly clear about the relationship when he said on national television that the president-elect had nothing to do with any of it. But to suggest that the former junior senator from Illinois never communicated with the governor of Illinois is ridiculous on its face -- of course there was the usual level of professional communication there, though it entirely fails to prove or even implicate any corruption on the part of Barack Obama. Then again, since when does reality matter?
Meanwhile, the Politico and numerous other news organizations have been attempting to make this the first "scandal" of the Obama presidency as if Blagojevich is somehow a member of the transition or an appointee to the future administration. The truth is Obama never endorsed Blagojevich and Blagojevich never endorsed Obama. Unless you consider Blagojevich's obnoxious "fuck him" remark to be an endorsement, that is.
Sean Hannity last night played the preemptive Minority Report card by suggesting that the president-elect could, some day in the future, become involved with the Blagojevich pay-or-play scam. In the future, Hannity said from the cockpit of his time-traveling DeLorean, Obama might grant favors to Blagojevich. And then he'll be doomed! Sometime in the future. Maybe.
On the clearly "liberal" MSNBC, daytime anchors went from not being able to pronounce the Illinois governor's name yesterday to repeatedly suggesting this morning that the president-elect wasn't forceful enough in his initial denouncement. Odd, considering this was exactly what RNC chairman Mike Duncan said in his statement.
Speaking of MSNBC, the word of the day in the establishment press? "Taint." To wit, my inner Beavis & Butthead giggled at this actual on-air MSNBC exchange:
NORAH O'DONNELL: Can Obama avoid being tainted by all of this?
CHUCK TODD: It depends on your definition of taint.
Huh-huh. Seriously, the only taint here is the taint that's being forced upon the president-elect by, well, all of the aforementioned taint... mongers? Taint merchants?
Nevertheless, as I write this, the president-elect has released a new statement calling for the governor to resign. This of course begs the establishment press topic for the rest of the day: Was Obama's statement calling for the governor's resignation strong enough? Should Obama release a third statement demanding that Blagojevich be launched into space inside of a creepy Phantom Zone square like the one from Superman II?
Really, is there anything the President-elect can do to satisfy these people?
Let's check the recent historical record. When former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay was accused of ethics violations and money laundering, and then was indicted on charges of conspiring to commit campaign finance fraud and consequently resigned from Congress in disgrace, President Bush publicly denounced and rejected DeLay -- a fellow Texan.
Oh. Wait. President Bush didn't denounce DeLay at all. In fact...
Bush Expresses a Belief in DeLay's Innocence
New York Times
President Bush Shows Support to Embattled DeLay
The News Hour
President Says DeLay Is Not Guilty of Money Laundering
The Washington Post
Bush Declares DeLay Innocent
The Washington Post
Lott urges Bush to give DeLay 'aggressive support'
The Washington Times
Bush to Give DeLay a Lift to Show Support
The Los Angeles Times
Read that last headline again. Not only did President Bush not denounce and reject the corrupt Republican leader, but DeLay was literally rewarded with a free ride aboard Air Force One. Both men wantonly tainting each other aboard the presidential aircraft.
Contrastingly, Obama can't even live in the same state as Blagojevich without having to emphatically denounce the governor's crimes and stupidity. And even when he denounces and rejects Blagojevich, he's still defined as tainted.
The double standard confounds reason. Once again, Digby's prescient use of the phrase "intellectual violence" applies here: the shameless ability of the far-right and certain members of the establishment press to violently ignore reality and embrace dishonesty and hypocrisy at a level far beyond that of normal silly-season discourse. A while back, for example, I wrote that it was only a matter of time before the far-right attacked the president-elect for taking a vacation, even though President Bush set a White House record for vacations. And sure enough, it happened.
It appears as if in this post-Bushie universe, the president-elect doesn't have to be involved in corruption in order to be pegged as corrupt. Indeed, he can be entirely and vigorously declared corruption-free and still be tagged with a scarlet letter "T" (for "taint"). This is what we can expect for the next four years. The crazy has only just begun.
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