With the fastest Cabinet appointments in 40 years completed, Barack Obama is off to a working vacation in his native Hawaii. It increasingly looks like he's rolled through two teapot tempests. One in which the far right flipped out, and another in which some on the left, frustrated at an avoidable defeat on same-sex marriage, forgot about the center part of center/left.
The far right flipping out about Obama is nothing new. Nor, I suppose, is a lot of the media going along for the ride. The media loves controversy, deep or otherwise. It's easier than contemplating pressing issues. The far right, well, it's downright impossible now to keep defending the failed Bush/Cheney administration -- which doesn't stop from bitter enders from trying -- so it's not surprising they've been pretending that Blagogate, which barely touched the president-elect, is more important than Bernie Madoff apparently making off with $50 billion.Wall Street legend Bernie Madoff apparently swindled investors out of $50 billion. Great regulation.
Are we surprised that Obama's staff was in contact with Blago and his staff about the appointment to replace the president-elect? Only if we don't get politics. I don't go as far as my old friendly acquaintance Willie Brown, the legendary ex-California Assembly speaker and San Francisco mayor, who says Blago did no wrong.
I've met the governor and talked with him. He's a typical type, as it were, in politics. He is charming and a loudmouth and wants to make a big deal for his own betterment.
Shocking, positively shocking.
Is he a crook? In this instance, perhaps not.
A crude loudmouth? Oh, yeah.
Which doesn't have much to do with Obama, one way or the other.
There will be no evidence of wrongdoing by Obama. He knows the milieu too well. What we have here is the latest cable chatfest hysteria, along with the relatively new element of yaposphere blog nonsense and the old toxic talk radio culture.
In fact, as I predicted the other day, once Blago let it be known that he wouldn't appoint Obama's successor, the big scandal already started to die down.
And now we're learning that the contact between Team Obama and Blago was more limited than presumed, and just as innocent as the federal prosecutor already indicated it was.
But hey, it's more fun to fulminate about a Midwestern pol with big hair and a salty tongue than to contemplate how easy it was for somebody to steal $50 billion.Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson staunchly defended the Wall Street bailout last month. Now banks are declining to say what they've done with hundreds of billions of dollars in public funds.
Or to wonder how it is that we have no idea what the banks we have bailed out have done with hundreds of billions of dollars in public funds.
Now, on the left, Obama has had to weather another teapot tempest.
As an agnostic, and a political analyst, I don't take prayer picks all that personally. Rick Warren, a fellow Californian (of the Orange County mega-church variety) -- who's developed a really sweet gig for himself -- had very little to do with the victory of Prop 8 in California. The right to same-sex marriage, granted earlier this year by the Republican majority California Supreme Court, should not have been defeated in last month's election.
Blame the terrible No on 8 campaign effort, which absolutely blew the ballot frame provided by former Governor-turned-Attorney General Jerry Brown, who changed the initiative wording on all the ballots to make it clear that Prop 8 took away a constitutional right (and is now intervening with the Supreme Court to have Prop 8 invalidated). Or, if you want to ascribe personal causality ... Look to the mayor of San Francisco (my dear hometown) -- who I strongly defended last year when a lot of netroots folks wanted to politically lynch him after his affair with his staffer (and campaign manager's wife) came out, and he then went into alcohol rehab. He inadvertently starred in the Yes on 8 TV ad campaign, providing it with an unappealing poster boy and ammunition for its charge that same-sex marriage would be promoted in the schools.San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom, prominent for advocating same-sex marriage, was the inadvertent star of the the campaign that abolished it in California.
Rachel Maddow, my new favorite broadcaster, please take note.
If No on 8 wasn't blown, nobody really cares about Rick Warren, a fellow who's found the sweet spot of the faith gig, delivering an invocation.
Why does Obama have Warren doing this? Politics, naturally. Warren has been a key player in including elements of the evangelical community in the climate change issue, endorsing Al Gore's An Inconvenient Truth. And it's a way to keep slicing off some of what has been a Republican vote.
Does that make it right or wrong? It makes it politics. Perhaps smart, in the big picture.