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Obama the Unlikely Reformer

December 28, 2008

Blagojevich’s lawyer wants the Illinois House committee to subpoena Obama’s Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel and his friend and advisor Valerie Jarett. Smart move in a desperate case. It’s in the interest of pretty much everyone among the most powerful people of the nation that Emanuel and Jarett know nothing about the illegal dealings Blago’s accused of. So it’s likely – to say the least – that their accounts of exchanges with M Blagojevich and his staffers will sound totally innocent.

Meanwhile, we learn that in 2003 a “reform” bill reduced the number of the members sitting at the Illinois Health Facilities Planning Board (a name that says “swift and efficient” like nothing else) from 15 to nine and thus helped M Blagojevich to set up his own five-member majority on this board. Those five people voted after the pay-for-play principled dictate of Blago, mediated through none other than Antoin “Tony” Rezko, the man found guilty of several charges of fraud and corruption, who raised funds for Obama and whose sweetheart deal for his house in Chicago Obama accepted.

And here’s what’s (also) funny: the above mentioned “reform” bill passed the Illinois Senate in 2003 with the approval of a committee chaired by none other than then-State-Senator-now-President-elect Obama. He also received $15,500 from three board members involved in the Blago scheme.

Now, you can make all you want of this. It isn’t impossible that the incarnation of Change has managed to get through the slum of Chicago politics and lives to tell the story (or rather to prevent the story from getting told). Maybe M Obama made it from his political roots in notoriously corrupt Chicago to become the President of the United States with neither accepting nor offering as much as a cup of black forest berry tea as a political favour. But does it not strike you as a bit odd that if you had to name two people who surrounded the President-elect during the last decade who were not involved in shady or illegal political dealings, you would be able to come up with no one except his two daughters?

It does not exactly evoke confidence in the French Cowboy, especially when considering that the man we’re talking about promised the end of “politics as usual” and the most “transparent” government ever. Wouldn’t someone with the heart of a genuine reformer have started to clean the smaller Augean stables of Illinois (in which, purportedly, Obama got born and placed in a manger) before going to DC with the alleged aim to clean the stables there? Is it reasonable to expect a squeaky clean, transparent government from a man who turned two blind eyes to corruption all around him?

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