Sometimes Doing the Right Thing Pays Off

The NY Times reports:

In a sequence of events that neatly captures the contradictions of Barack Obama’s rise through Illinois politics, a phone call he made three months ago to urge passage of a state ethics bill indirectly contributed to the downfall of a fellow Democrat he twice supported, Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich.

Mr. Obama placed the call to his political mentor, Emil Jones Jr., president of the Illinois Senate. Mr. Jones was a critic of the legislation, which sought to curb the influence of money in politics, as was Mr. Blagojevich, who had vetoed it. But after the call from Mr. Obama, the Senate overrode the veto, prompting the governor to press state contractors for campaign contributions before the law’s restrictions could take effect on Jan. 1, prosecutors say.

Tipped off to Mr. Blagojevich’s efforts, federal agents obtained wiretaps for his phones and eventually overheard what they say was scheming by the governor to profit from his appointment of a successor to the United States Senate seat being vacated by President-elect Obama.

This has Daniel Halper at Commentary magazine in a snit, and he treats us to some Grade A sarcasm:

Additionally, in case anyone doubted it, Obama’s “relationship with Mr. Blagojevich [has] always [been] defined more by political proximity than by personal chemistry.” Phew, glad that’s cleared up. In a way, it’s too bad Obama was elected; who, now, will be able to bestow upon the former-Senator the Presidential Medal of Freedom?

The second commenter in the thread expands on the derision:

Yeah, St. Barack saved the day, with his courageous phone call to Emil Jones re ILLINOIS POLITICAL ETHICS REFORM — a no-lose proposition if there ever was one, with absolutely no political downside for a national politician. Besides, Rezko had ALREADY bought Barack’s house using $$ he’d shaken down from the construction industry and other state vendors. So Barack didn’t have to worry about being evicted from either his house or his US Senate seat. How freakin’ courageous. He’s a bigger hero than Lincoln AND Grant rolled into one.

Now look, neocons. I know it must upset you that this Blagojevich scandal as of yet has failed to taint Obama, because I understand how excited you were to continue your guilt by association high from the election. The letdown is always rough after a binge, so a little hair of the dog is understandable.

But let me break this down for you. Sometimes, elected leaders are asked to show real courage, and vote against the will of the people to do something that is unpopular, but the right thing to do. They will pay a political price, but as leaders, that is what they have to do if they have the best interests of the nation at heart. In these cases, there is no reward other than knowing they have done the right thing, and there is a short-term political price to pay.

Other times, elected leaders get no-brainers- political gifts, if you will. They get to do the right thing, and they will be rewarded by the electorate for doing what is best for the country, and it really is a “gimme”- they get to do the right thing and will be given credit by the media and the voters. This case, with Obama pushing for the passage of this legislation, appears to be one such occurence.

This is just how it works out, and I know this is going to be hard for you to understand. After all, we have just spent eight years with George Bush and his third way, in which Republicans do the wrong thing for the wrong reasons and suffer huge political costs. I know that you have confused yourselves into thinking that is political courage, but in reality, it is just stupid, bad for the country, and for politicians, untenable. Unless, of course, you like the new heights of electoral success that the Republicans have achieved in 2006 and 2008.

Fortunately for everyone involved, Barack Obama is no George Bush.

*** Update ***

Halper writes in to clarify that his intent to mock the speed with which the NT Times to defend Obama, not Obama himself. Not sure how that jibes with his medal of freedom remark, and I am not sure why the Times is to be mocked for getting something right, but thought I would put the clarification out there. Picking on them for getting something right, particularly when their pages featured Judith Miller for so long and still have the inestimably wrong Bill Kristol writing for them seems to be rather odd. At least we are both glad that Obama really isn’t culpable for anything in this case as of now.






44 replies
  1. 1
    cleek says:

    "who, now, will be able to bestow upon the former-Senator the Presidential Medal of Freedom?"

    GWB, Hero To The Stupid, is still in office, right ?

  2. 2
    Punchy says:

    Here comes the STOOPID:

    Obama isn’t accused of anything. But the fact that Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, a fellow Democrat, has been charged with trying to sell Obama’s now-vacant Senate post gives political opponents an opening to try to link him to the scandal. A slew of questions remain. The investigation is still under way. And the ultimate impact on Obama is far from certain.

    Look at the first sentence. Look at the last. Translation: "Obama’s done nothing wrong, but it would be irresponsible not to speculate that he’s guilty as shit, probably also raped some children, and smokes in bed".

    Unfuckingreal. Righty blogs just got handed 18 fucking months of material to chew on. I’m not kidding.

  3. 3
    Tom says:

    "who, now, will be able to bestow upon the former-Senator the Presidential Medal of Freedom?"

    Wonder what this guy will have to say when Bush pardons Ryan.

  4. 4
    Joshua Norton says:

    Oh, but they think a few wins in the south have them on the road to recovery. Boehner put it so strongly as to say "The future is Cao" when he’s exceptionally unlikely to win re-election. It also might have helped that Anh "Joseph" Cao ran against the political corpse who is Jefferson down in the Louisiana

    I suppose it’s all about the soundbite right now showing that a republican won and yadda yadda, but I wonder if Boehner’s crystal ball also shows the future of Cao losing in two years by 20% to a non-indicted Democrat.

  5. 5
    Napoleon says:

    @Punchy:

    None of it is going to stick and it is going to make the right look like they are disconnected from reality.

  6. 6
    Faux News says:

    I would like to do a pre-emptive strike here:

    PLEASE don’t feed the anatana-whats-its-name Troll. Ignoring it is the best option as it is a waste of internet space.

  7. 7
    Zifnab says:

    Now look, neocons. I know it must upset you that this Blagojevich scandal as of yet has failed to taint Obama, because I understand how excited you were to continue your guilt by association high from the election. The letdown is always rough after a binge, so a little hair of the dog is understandable.

    Nonsense, John. This isn’t a letdown at all. Just one more piece of "evidence" that the commie rat duel citizen of Kenya and Indonesia who used strong arm CHICAGO-STYLE POLITICS to misogynize and smear his opponents on his rise to the Presidency is a dirty little crook.

    I mean, look at the facts. Obama and Blagojevich won state-wide office in the same state! And Obama tacitly supported Blagojevich over his Republican rival. That PROVES Obama is dirty. All this talk of "legislation Obama passed to curb corruption" and "Obama’s Senatorial pick was explicitly rebuffed because he refused to pay-to-play with the Governor" is just namby pamby white washing of the fact that Barack Obama is the most liberal corrupt Senator to ever rise to the station of President.

  8. 8
    Robin G. says:

    Reading around this morning, it looks like everyone is very very worried that this "guilt by association" thing is going to get some traction. Obviously the wingnuts will try; probably the MSM will breathlessly follow suit; in all likelihood the Dem leadership will stumble around trying to distance itself. But one of the big reasons I voted for Obama is because he’s smart enough to outwit them all. He’s a young black Democrat with the middle name Hussein and he just won the presidency. In other words, I think he can manage people attempting to connect him to this scandal.

  9. 9
    Joshua Norton says:

    Obama and Blagojevich won state-wide office in the same state!

    And they both also have many of the same letters in their last names. Coincidence? I think not.

  10. 10
    jenniebee says:

    There’s also courage in doing something that is unpopular with your fellow pols, even though it’s the right thing to do, and this clearly falls into that category. I’m not saying that this is Profiles in Courage-worthy or anything, but Obama comes out of this one looking like a pretty good guy who doesn’t stoop to playing crooked politics.

  11. 11
    Incertus says:

    @Napoleon: I don’t know–there are some folks out there who still think Hillary pulled the trigger on Vince Foster. Politico has gotten in on the concern trolling as well.

  12. 12
    Zifnab says:

    I’m not saying that this is Profiles in Courage-worthy or anything, but Obama comes out of this one looking like a pretty good guy who doesn’t stoop to playing crooked politics.

    Just ask yourself this. If Obama’s name were "John McCain", would we be reading about this or about how federal investigators just caught VP-elect Sarah Palin swapping her pick for a Senate seat for a new Birkin Bag and some pumps from Neimann Marcus?

  13. 13
    Napoleon says:

    @Incertus:

    People who believe that stuff would never vote Dem in a million years. They make up something, anything, to use as the justification for their wacko views. I have long thought (15-20 plus years) that it actually helps the Dems when the right adopts their wacked out story lines. I got an e-mail from a friend this morning that at an event last night at her church someone goes into how there is something more here. From now on she will never grant the woman who revealed herself to be a wack job any credibility. The stupider and wackier the story line from the right the better it is for the Dems. Pray that Palin is their ’12 nominee since it will just reinforce the perception of 55% of the population that the right is run by and full of crackpots and really does not offer solutions for this countries problems and can not be trusted to run the country.

    By the way, Clinton won twice even though his wife "killed" Foster.

  14. 14
    Napoleon says:

    @Napoleon:

    A PS to my post as an example of how the wacky helps the Dems, I saw Dan Burton, the congressperson who famously shot pumpkins in his backyard to prove that the Clintons killed Foster and during the question and answer with the host (I forget who it was) they brought up his wacky investigations into the Clintons which he refuse to comment on an just tried to brush it away with a "that is old news", but you know what, it discredited him as the fringe whack job that he is.

  15. 15

    Yeah, but Governor Blagojevich said that Barack Obama had carnal knowledge of his deceased mother. Doesn’t that count for some degree of separation in right-wing world? Or do they all sleep with mommy?

  16. 16

    Righty blogs just got handed 18 fucking months of material to chew on. I’m not kidding.

    Well, that’s a plus for our side, since they will be occupied and marginalized for a while. The natural born citizen challenge is about to flame out on them.

  17. 17
    Incertus says:

    @Napoleon: Yeah, but this isn’t about getting votes. It’s about poisoning the public discourse, which is what the bullshit reporting surrounding Whitewater really did. And it looks to me like they’re ready to make another run at it, even though there’s even less here than there was to Whitewater.

  18. 18

    it looks to me like they’re ready to make another run at it

    Uh, for those of you who have never noticed the tabloid rack at the Supermarket checkout stand …… of course, they are always read to make a run at anything that moves.

    There’s a market for scandal, gossip, and disinformation, and providers who are eager to dish it up.

    Some new version of Alfonse D’Amato will be along to be the ringmaster for the circus that is taking shape now, and that’s the way it will be going forward. Did anyone really think that the maroon brigade was going to be silent for four years?

  19. 19
    Conservatively Liberal says:

    See John, Comrade Stuck found a nugget and you polished it up all nice an purty. All is well in the world (or so we wish).

    Let the crazies rant on because they will only look (and act) crazier as Obama calmly handles stupid stuff they throw at them, brushing it off of his shoulder like so much dust. ;)

    Seriously, if this is the best they got then they are grasping at straws. People will listen to the boy cry ‘WOLF!’ the first few times, but after enough false alarms they will get wise and dismiss the cries as only ‘alligator tears’ (fits in with the reptile theme of the crazies, eh?).

    Obama (by pure luck) helped to take Blagalphabet (or whatever John called him) down, and the wingnuts were already trying to tie the crook to Obama and now it is all for naught. Let the press hyperventilate, people approve of what Obama is doing and they are going to listen to him, not the press.

    People know that it wasn’t just the pols who got us in this mess, the press helped them do it by turning a blind eye. We all know that the wingnuts intend on pulling a ‘Clinton’ on Obama, dogging him every contrived chance they can get. Obama knows this too, and I am sure that he is ready to deal with them (and the newfound love of the ‘truth’ that the press has discovered).

    Obama isn’t even in office and he is making them look bad without breaking a sweat. I can’t wait until he can do it from the Oval Office. :)

  20. 20
    Napoleon says:

    @Incertus:

    They are going to try to do that no matter what, and they will the rest of your life, so get use to it. Better they do it with wacked out stuff that the common person knows is BS. Do you think that anyone that is not a blind partisan and gives it any thought believes that somehow Obama is in cohoots with Gov. B.?

    By the way Whitewater would never have amounted to anything but for Clinton’s own missteps, both in f—ing up his program then being a fool when it came to Monica.

  21. 21

    […] Cole: Fortunately for everyone involved, Barack Obama is no George Bush. […]

  22. 22
    ChrisS says:

    I like how Rezko is still very important and there will, no doubt, be a grand unifying theory of the Clintons/Blagojevich/Rezko/Obama/Weather Underground spelled out in 14,000 words on some wingnuttily blog.

    There’s no indication that there was any kind of trickery or deceit with Obama’s real estate deal. Nothing. The Obamas weren’t even the low-bidder on the house.

    Meanwhile, GWB’s days of portraying a cowboy have come to an end and so has any reason to live at his ranch. Instead he buys a Dallas estate next to Tom Hicks, the guy that bought the Rangers from GWB and helped Bush to a 2,400% return on investment.

  23. 23
    kay says:

    @Incertus:

    I think guilt by association is currently reaching peak. Let’s face it, it’s endless. Politics is about associations.

    This game has no beginning and no end. It has to reach overload insanity level before it runs out of steam, but it will.

    It will reach peak and die when it’s used against a slew of conservatives, effectively, like the whole special prosecutor/"criminalizing politics" concept did.

  24. 24
    r€nato says:

    Has Blagojevich produced the original copy of his birth certificate?

    NO!

    Coincidence?

    I think not!

  25. 25
    gbear says:

    @Robin G.:

    Democrat with the middle name Hussein and he just won the presidency. In other words, I think he can manage people attempting to connect him to this scandal.

    Unfortunately, the senate democrats will listen to the flack and see this as another reason that maybe they should bend over backwards to appease those who would crap on them anyway.

    Senate democrats are always going to lose their lunch money to the schoolyard bullies, now and forever, no matter how smart the president is.

  26. 26
    r€nato says:

    So, the people who regularly support politicians who propose ‘no-lose’ legislation like anti-flag-burning amendments…

    …are in a snit because Obama supported ‘no-lose’ ethics reform legislation?

    Gotcha.

  27. 27
    r€nato says:

    What did Obama know about Blagojevich, and when did he know it?

    It would be irresponsible NOT to speculate.

  28. 28
    Robin G. says:

    @gbear: I totally agree, but when listing people that Obama can run circles around, I would include the Democratic Leadership.

  29. 29
    JR says:

    gbear says: "Senate democrats are always going to lose their lunch money to the schoolyard bullies, now and forever, no matter how smart the president is."

    No, the Senate democrats are always going to lose OUR lunch money to the schoolyard bullies, now and forever, or until we somehow get the treasonous residue out of office. Their own lunch is being catered in the skybox with said bullies.

  30. 30
    Comrade Stuck says:

    @Conservatively Liberal:

    Comrade Stuck found a nugget

    very light digging required — front page on Memerandum

  31. 31
    Face says:

    I’m withholding judgement until I see what Blagalphabet’s preacher has to say about America.

  32. 32
    gbear says:

    @JR:

    No, the Senate democrats are always going to lose OUR lunch money to the schoolyard bullies, now and forever, or until we somehow get the treasonous residue out of office.

    I guess ‘lunch money’ was the wrong word for what I was trying to say. I should have said ‘nuts’, or ‘balls’, or maybe ‘manhood’ (‘personhood’ to be gender neutral?).

  33. 33
    Bubblegum Tate says:

    Fortunately for everyone involved, Barack Obama is no George Bush.

    A-fuckin’-men.

  34. 34
    liberal says:

    @Joshua Norton:

    Boehner put it so strongly as to say "The future is Cao" when he’s exceptionally unlikely to win re-election.

    I read a front-page article on that in the deadtree ed of the Washington Post. IIRC they failed to mention the bit about how he’s unlikely to win re-election.

    Guess they’re repenting for supposedly being too negative on McInsane.

  35. 35
    Montysano (All Hail Marx & Lennon) says:

    @Conservatively Liberal:

    Seriously, if this is the best they got then they are grasping at straws. People will listen to the boy cry ‘WOLF!’ the first few times, but after enough false alarms they will get wise and dismiss the cries as only ‘alligator tears’ (fits in with the reptile theme of the crazies, eh?).

    CL: I think the point, made by others upthread, is that there is now a infinite market for Wolf Hollering. Like my co-workers who listen to 9 hours of Boortz, Limbaugh, and Hannity: they never tire of it, no matter how lame it is. A great example: our chief accounting person, very bright and likable, totally bought into the Poor Brown People Wrecked The Economy meme, even though 30 seconds of simple math (which she is quite good at) disproves it.

  36. 36
    gopher2b says:

    Apparently Harris worked for Daley at some point. This thing (locally) is not over and it could get real bloody.

    Obama seems relatively unscathed. What people outside Chicago don’t seem to get is that Obama far too fast to be part of the Chicago machine. He was elected as a State Senator to represent Hyde Park and a few other south side neighborhoods. Then, whip/bam he’s a U.S. Senator who is running for President. For a comparison, see Rod Blagojevich’s career path which started by marrying the daughter of an Alderman.

  37. 37
    joe from Lowell says:

    First the profanity-laden tirades from Blago about Obama not being willling to perform corrupt acts, and now this?

    I’m just afraid that Obama will turn out to be too clean.

    The last thing we need is another one of those ineffective, Jimmy Carter choir boy types. Washington’s a dirty enough town, nevermind foreign government.

    On the other hand, it’s going to be nice having an honest president for a change.

    For.

    A.

    Change.

  38. 38

    The last thing we need is another one of those ineffective, Jimmy Carter choir boy types. Washington’s a dirty enough town, nevermind foreign government.

    I think Rahm Emanuel had Hamilton Jordan killed.

  39. 39
    dmsilev says:

    I’m just afraid that Obama will turn out to be too clean. The last thing we need is another one of those ineffective, Jimmy Carter choir boy types. Washington’s a dirty enough town, nevermind foreign government.

    "Clean" and "nice" aren’t the same thing. Obama is pretty clean. But he’s shown that when the occasion demands it, he can be Not Nice. That’s why he hired Rahm. And that’s why there are reports that Rahm stuck a knife into Blago’s back after the attempted shakedown. The reports have been denied by Rahm et al. of course, but it certainly won’t hurt his reputation.

    -dms

  40. 40
    Person of Choler says:

    Wingnuts or whatever, Obama came from the swamp of Illinois politics and we’ll see if he tracks any mud into the White House.

    Expect some amusement in the days ahead.

    Again, Merry Fitzmas.

  41. 41
    bobbo says:

    "Tipped off to Mr. Blagojevich’s efforts, federal agents obtained wiretaps for his phones."

    The feds got a warrant to wiretap based on the fact that Blago opposed the ethics bill? That can’t be right. What am I missing here?

  42. 42
    mere mortal says:

    Mr. Obama placed the call to his political mentor, Emil Jones Jr.

    "I’m here with Sergeant Emil…Emil? Sergeant Emil Klinger. No mother, I didn’t believe it, either." – Roger Thornhill

  43. 43
    pattonbt says:

    @Zifnab:

    Harumph!!! Harumph!!! Harumph!!!!!!!!

    I am soooo glad to finally see someone opening their eyes to what Obama REALLY is. I mean, the evidence has been there all along and the compliant MSM just rolled over because they were afraid of Obama and his thug-Chicago way. Plus the MSM hates the god fearing, country loving, fiscally responsible, democracy spreadin Republicans.

    Welcome to the Soviet Union suckers!!!! Hope you like Chavez’s and Castro’s puppet as your new preznit!!!!!11!!

    On the serious side, while I really enjoy the insane spittle of the conspiracists and mocking them mercilously, I do fear growing tired of the non-stop pricking from the daily howling. I mean I knew (know) the right has nothing but antics like this but I guess I hoped (still hope) that some semblance of sanity and adulthood would peer through the inanity. 8 years of watching this during Clinton was draining.

    I just want a fucking adult country with an adult opposition and level headed people in positions of power. Is it really too much to ask for?

  44. 44
    Conservatively Liberal says:

    Comrade Stuck, some places on the right are loaded with nuggets, the problem is that they are usually brown. I hope you wore gloves when you picked that one up. ;)

    @Montysano (All Hail Marx & Lennon):

    I know there is a market for that crap, but other than a small surge provided by the racist ‘Democrats’ who went for McCain, that group is currently in decline (IMO). Obama is heading into this with an 80% approval rating just on his actions so far. If he keeps this up he is going to enter office with strong public support for action. His actions are instilling confidence for him being a good President into a large segment of the population, that is a nice tailwind have coming into office when things are in a mess..

    If he can keep this approach up and the public maintains its high level of confidence in him, then it is going to make life miserable for the 20% who don’t like him. The better he does, the nuttier they are going to rant and rave. The nuttier they rant and rave, the less attention they are going to get (other than laughter and derision, of course).

    When W won stole the election in 2000, people talked alot about fatigue from the incessant attacks on Clinton by the Republicans throughout the 90’s. People got sick and tired of it, even the BJ in office was only big news in the press and on the right. The public was sick and tired of it by then, the over-hyping of everything Clinton hurt the Republicans and they knew it.

    Everything is in a mess right now and a majority of the people out there understand this is because of a lack of true leadership and rampant corruption in DC. If Obama can stay above this corruption and act as a strong leader then he can call people out, even the members of his own party. If anyone can stand up to these invertebrate Democratic pols and show them what a spine is for, I have a feeling that Obama will be one to do it.

    The guy exudes confidence, there has to be some serious mojo backing that up for him to get where he has today. Obama is dancing the political dance of his life (and ours) and he has been leading so far. He has had his little missteps, but when you look at that 80% positive rating number you know there are a lot of people who did not vote for him that are liking what they see.

    If Obama remains popular and keeps his nose clean (and the noses of those he appoints), he is going to make Teflon look sticky and no matter what the wingnuts throw at him it just ain’t gonna stick. People want solutions, and the mess that is Washington D.C. now is not getting it done.

    Some of the public are looking to Obama to be the miracle man and he is not going to be one, they will probably be disappointed. Most people are looking for honest and competent government. If Obama delivers that, almost everyone wins. I said ‘almost’ because the wingnuts would lose and we already know that will not make them happy at all. Good.

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