Sunday, December 14, 2008

Obama's Bert Lance

Liberals are complaining bitterly about press coverage of the Rod Blagojevich scandal. "[T]he media have tried to shoehorn Barack Obama into the Rod Blagojevich scandal," as Jamison Foser of Media Matters put it in a 2,900-word tirade Friday:
Most telling is the tendency of many journalists to speculate that the Blagojevich scandal may ensnare Obama without acknowledging that the complaint against Blagojevich contained absolutely no evidence of wrongdoing by Obama . . .
Associated Press reporter Liz Sidoti set the standard for pointlessly speculative news reports with an "analysis" piece declaring that "President-elect Barack Obama hasn't even stepped into office and already a scandal is threatening to dog him." . . .
We cannot afford to be distracted from serious problems by overheated conjecture and baseless insinuation masquerading as journalism.
That's how the media behaved the last time we had a Democratic president. They devoted wall-to-wall coverage to invented "scandals," ignored exculpatory evidence, saw evidence of guilt everywhere, took people out of context in order to accuse them of lying, and generally behaved like a pack of wild animals who couldn't tell right from wrong or truth from fiction -- or who simply didn't care. As a group, they behaved without ethical standards and without regard for the truth.
Foser is correct that nothing now known indicates wrongdoing on Obama's part. However, the revelation that Obama's choice for chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, was in communication with Blagojevich -- sending him a list of potential Senate replacement appointees acceptable to Obama -- undermined Obama's press conference claim that "no representative of mine would have any part in any deals related to this seat."

Foser compares the press coverage to how the Whitewater scandal dogged the Clintons, but a more accurate analogy would be to the scandal that felled Jimmy Carter's OMB director, Bert Lance. A Georgia banker and influential figure in state Democratic Party politics, Lance was forced to resign eight months into the Carter administration by revelations about his financial dealings. Lance was never convicted of any crime, and the scandal involved no suggestion of wrongdoing by Carter, and yet the swirl of accusations damaged -- if it did not entirely destroy -- Carter's image as a squeaky-clean reformer. Perhaps most importantly, the Lance scandal brought an early end to whatever honeymoon Carter had enjoyed with the Washington press corps.

The scolding of Foser and other liberals won't undo the damage that the Blagojevich scandal has already done to Obama, and more damage is likely. The Republican National Committee has issued a Web video aiming to cement in the public mind the idea that Obama (a) is a close ally of Blagojevich, and (b) has been dishonest in his responses to the scandal:

(Cross-posted at AmSpecBlog.)

UPDATE: Linked at Hot Air, where Ed Morrissey points to Andrew Malcolm of the LA Times:
What's puzzled some people and raised suspicions among others is Emanuel's refusal to talk about it (reportedly physically pushing one reporter's tape recorder away and having a verbal altercation with another) and the delay on Obama's part in releasing the promised diary of contacts.
From a practical point of view, if everything is above board, what's to hide?
It's the appearance of impropriety, which would make a great book title, BTW.

UPDATE II: The Instalanche -- what every blogger wants for Christmas. And, of course, it was the professor's book, The Appearance of Impropriety, that I had in mind. Speaking of books and Christmas, now would be a great time to shop the 2008 Holiday Book Sale, and let's go ahead and plug two great books about political scandal:

UPDATE III: Obama's staff has experience in dealing with scandals.

UPDATE IV: Chigago Democrats and the Mob, also accusations of a Blagojevich-Mob connection.


  1. Barack Obama has set up a Shadow Presidency, with his supporters even pushing President Bush to enact OBAMA's policies over his own. This has put Obama into the Press' eyes as an Office Holder, not a President in Waiting... and has invited more scrutiny and formality than he would have otherwise endured.

    Now that there is a scandal in the wings, his 'people' are being held to an office holder's standards as well... and as a result, they have almost managed to end the Obama Honeymoon with the Press before he even gets Sworn In... nothing so fierce as a Press Corps scorned!

    I hope for our Country's sake he gets this straitened out...

  2. Democrats and the media were quick to conflate the action of Scooter Libbey to the entire Bush administration. Why should whatever Rahm and Blogojevich had cooking be any different?

    The usual double standard.

  3. Hey Robert, see what your cousin said about this fiasco:

    JSM just keeps on distinguishing himself...

  4. Come on, did anybody besides the legion of Kool-Aid drinkers actually think a Chicago democrat-machine politician was going to be anything but tainted, I'll just ignore the whole "he's a reformer" bit they were shouting.

    A different kind of politician...yeah, right. The Chicago dems are different alright, they make the rest of the political class look humble and virtuous.

  5. "Democrats and the media were quick to conflate the action of Scooter Libbey to the entire Bush administration."

    Ummm....hardly an appropriate analogy. More telling is the subtle admission that there is an element of payback involved in the Conservatives desperate attempt to suggest ,by repetition, some kind of connection to Blago's pay-to-play scheme.
    The Libby deal was connected to the outing of a CIA agent from WITHIN the White House.
    Rahm Emmanuel and Obama making suggestions as to who should take over Obama's Senate seat is not a crime.
    Sorry, Cons. You can stomp and pout, but the tantrums won't work.
    Well, maybe it'll work on all those closet Bush lovers, the ones who voted for him twice and are now....
    They're susceptible to the cheap tricks.

  6. Rahm Emmanuel and Obama making suggestions as to who should take over Obama's Senate seat is not a crime...

    until they denied having had said discussions, and withheld information about a federal crime in progress.

    Key word, "Appreciation."

    Robert, you really deserve a better class of troll.

  7. Rae-
    Try as you might, denying discussions took place is not a crime.And to clear things up for you since you are obviously challenged intellectually, Obama denied having discussions on the pay-to-play scheme. Of course he was involved in discussions as to who would inherit his seat. Not that it makes any difference to you. Anything Obama does is suspicious.
    I know, you really,really want there to be a scandal, but the wishful thinking that has characterized your party's ideology is just outdated.

    And by the way, you suggest that Rahm and/or Obama withheld information about a federal crime in progress...OK Matlock. Why don't you tell us everything you know. Don't hold back on all that inside information you claim to be privy to.
    Oh, that's right. You believe in your own speculations. Enlighten us since you seem to have an inside track on this mess.Or are your conspiracy theories supposed to be interpreted as fact?
    Here's the deal: you don't know what you are talking about. But if Obama fear makes you feel better about your flawed ideologies and political belief systems then be my guest.
    Go curl up under that rock you call your home.
    PS- I'm the best kind of troll there is....

  8. "Obama denied having discussions on the pay-to-play scheme. Of course he was involved in discussions as to who would inherit his seat"

    Okay, Matlock. Give us all the inside-baseball you know, come on, don't hold back on the inside-information you have. Of course you don't know squat, but you're eager to drink the Kool-Aid and carry the water.And maybe you should look up the definition of analogy because his was spot on. Unless of course you'd like to argue more directly that instead of there being just a "connection" to the White House with Bush there was a direct involvement with Obama and Blagoyevich in pay-for-play. Maybe getting a special prosecutor involved to dredge-up a process crime would be appropriate at this point. Maybe Barry could set Rahm up as his scapegot.

    People are finally noticing the stench from electing a Chicago democrat-machine politician. Just wait, it will get much worse.

    Too bad the lefties already can't stand the same kind of scrutiny they delivered to Bush for eight years. I guess they found out that tantrums don't work from firsthand experience.

  9. "Unless of course you'd like to argue more directly that instead of there being just a "connection" to the White House with Bush there was a direct involvement with Obama and Blagoyevich in pay-for-play."

    Ummm...Hoss. Get a grip buddy. I can see the ass whooping your side received at the hands of Obama is gettting to you. For instance, there's a difference between the wishful thinking-hoping- that Obama was involved in some kind of criminal activity and the grand actuality of fact.No wonder Kathleen Parker and others are throwing your kind under the bus. There's a large swathe of lunacy on the Right.
    If you believe there was criminal activity then bring forth the evidence. Your wacko punditry saying it is so does not make it so. At least not in the real world.
    But hey! It's X-mas( Happy Holidays)!!!
    If believing in something that isn't true helps you sleep better at night then sweet but deranged dreams.
    And just to remind you of a bit of recent history:
    All the wailing and hollering about Bush turned out to be true. On the other hand, your defense and water-carrying of the Bush administration leaves you somewhat...with a bit of egg on your face,no?