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.