BLAGO UPDATE….Thanks partly to this being a slow news day and partly to the sheer juiciness of the whole thing, the blogosphere is ablaze with chatter about the arrest of Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich on corruption charges. Main theme: the guy has been under investigation for three years by the same prosecutor who convicted both Scooter Libby and the previous governor of Illinois, but he was merrily blathering away to friends anyway about selling off Barack Obama’s senate seat to the highest bidder? What kind of fucking moron is this guy?
Other, slightly more substantive comments from around the ‘sphere:
Who are the six possible candidates for Obama’s senate seat mentioned in the idictment? Adam Serwer tries to track them down.
It wasn’t just senate seats in play! Blago also told the Tribune Company that he wouldn’t approve any state financial assistance for their effort to sell the Chicago Cubs unless they fired some editorial board members who had been critical of him. Apparently Blagojevich told the Tribune Company’s representative, “our recommendation is fire all those [expletive] people, get ’em the [expletive] out of there and get us some editorial support.”
Is Barack Obama implicated in any of this? At a press conference today, prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald said no: “I should be clear that the complaint makes no allegations whatsoever about the president-elect or his conduct.” What’s more, the indictment quotes Blagojevich telling a friend that he wasn’t willing to appoint Obama’s favored candidate to the Senate because “they’re not willing to give me anything except appreciation. [Expletive] them.”
Still, Time’s Michael Scherer thinks this is going to be a problem for Obama anyway: “The President of the United States has a higher burden than just about any elected official anywhere. His staff will be called on by the press to account for all their conversations with Blagojevich and his aides. Obama will have to explain what he knew about these discussions.” Etc. My guess is different: I think Obama will be so open about this, and so obviously uninvolved, that it won’t cause him any pain whatsoever. It’s an Illinois story, not an Obama story.
My colleage Jonathan Stein runs down the corruption record of Illinois governors since 1973. It’s not pretty.
Bizarrely enough, despite his 4% approval rating and ongoing corruption investigation, Blago seriously considered appointing himself to Obama’s open senate seat because he thought it would a good launching pad for a 2016 presidential run. The mind reels.
Anyway, that’s your Blago roundup for the morning. More, much much more, to come later, I’m sure.