• Tips gratefully accepted here. Thanks!:

  • Recent Comments

    William on About Roe
    Ivory Bill Woodpecke… on Just for fun I looked at the O…
    riverdaughter on Just for fun I looked at the O…
    riverdaughter on Just for fun I looked at the O…
    Ga6thDem on About Roe
    Ga6thDem on About Roe
    Ivory Bill Woodpecke… on Just for fun I looked at the O…
    Ivory Bill Woodpecke… on Just for fun I looked at the O…
    Ivory Bill Woodpecke… on Just for fun I looked at the O…
    darthvelma on Fitness: Cool down, COOL …
    darthvelma on About Roe
    riverdaughter on About Roe
    riverdaughter on About Roe
    riverdaughter on Fitness: Cool down, COOL …
    darthvelma on Fitness: Cool down, COOL …
  • Categories


  • Tags

    abortion Add new tag Afghanistan Al Franken Anglachel Atrios bankers Barack Obama Bernie Sanders big pharma Bill Clinton cocktails Conflucians Say Dailykos Democratic Party Democrats Digby DNC Donald Trump Donna Brazile Economy Elizabeth Warren feminism Florida Fox News General Glenn Beck Glenn Greenwald Goldman Sachs health care Health Care Reform Hillary Clinton Howard Dean John Edwards John McCain Jon Corzine Karl Rove Matt Taibbi Media medicare Michelle Obama Michigan misogyny Mitt Romney Morning Edition Morning News Links Nancy Pelosi New Jersey news NO WE WON'T Obama Obamacare OccupyWallStreet occupy wall street Open thread Paul Krugman Politics Presidential Election 2008 PUMA racism Republicans research Sarah Palin sexism Single Payer snark Social Security Supreme Court Terry Gross Texas Tim Geithner unemployment Wall Street WikiLeaks women
  • Archives

  • History

    December 2021
    S M T W T F S
     1234
    567891011
    12131415161718
    19202122232425
    262728293031  
  • RSS Paul Krugman: Conscience of a Liberal

  • The Confluence

    The Confluence

  • RSS Suburban Guerrilla

  • RSS Ian Welsh

    • Open Thread
      Use comments to discuss topics unrelated to recent posts. Facebook Twitter WhatsApp LinkedIn
  • Top Posts

Yes, Presidents are held to higher standards or, why Rahm Emanuel’s dealings with Rod Blogojevich matter

I have just one question about this. Did Rahm Emanuel mention all of his connections to Rod Blagojevich on the famous vetting questionnaire that the Obama team supposedly required all prospective staff to answer? Given the broad wording of the questionnaire and the fact that Blagojevich has been under investigation for years for all sorts of crimes and shenanigans, I would have thought the Obama administration would want to know the full extent of overlapping ties, even if Emanuel has not done one improper or illegal thing in connection with the Senate vacancy created by President-Elect Obama’s resignation.

The issue that President-Elect Obama seems to have is one that cost him some people’s trust back in the primary season. The change many of us have been waiting for is not us. It is a change from the hypocrisy, corruption, and absurdity that have riddled the last eight years of this country’s political leadership.

If the Obama questionnaire was meant to do more than provide protection for President Obama, that is, if the questions it asked were asked in good faith, seeking full disclosure up front in the name of creating a culture of transparency and truthfulness, then Mr. Emanuel should have revealed all of his overlaps and ties to Gov. Blagojevich. If you deal with dirty politicians, however much out of necessity, disclose your dealings; and, if need be, put them in context so as to show why you should not be seen to be cut from the same cloth. If Mr. Emanuel only now  explains himself – or rather if an explanation is supplied only on December 22, when the Obama-Biden transition team releases its “internal investigation (the one that it has already told us clears its members of any wrongdoing), that is a post-hoc effort at rationalization, which is not going to cut it with people who thought that President-elect Obama was coming to the Presidency to stop that sort of thing.

Since the inception of the office  the President of the United States of America has merited a great deal of public scrutiny. No, this did not just start with Bill Clinton. In his own time, President Ulysses S. Grant’s drinking habits were subject of much speculation; whether he was or was not an alcoholic and how that affected his ability to serve his country remains a topic of historical study and debate. The question of whether Thomas Jefferson fathered children with Sally Hemmings came up during his first term as president. I have no particular view as to whether Grant’s drinking or Jefferson’s relationship with Hemmings mattered during their own eras or whether and how they should matter know. But I do have a view about Presidents who expect not to come under scrutiny. In anything like an egalitarian democracy, it is the right of citizens to question their public servants, especially those who enjoy great public power. It is their right to care about the precise relationship and connections between  their President’s chief of staff and an apparently crooked Governor from the President’s home state. It is their right to care about who their President chooses to write the words he speaks; or who he chooses to bless his inauguration.

It is not only unrealistic to bleat about how unfair it is for the public to care about these things. It is to forget that the American public has always cared about these sort of things, even if at times the press has been selective and inconsistent in its reporting on different Presidents and  presidential candidates.

Certainly, part of why people care is that they care about sensationalistic matters or matters that may have nothing to with a person’s actual qualifications or ability to be a good President. But people also care because they want to decide for themselves whether what a President reads or who she or he puts into a kitchen cabinet relates to a President’s qualifications and abilities.

So, people care about how Rahm Emanuel answered question 63: “Please provide any other information, including information about other members of your family, that could suggest a conflict of interest or be a possible source of embarrassment to you, your family, or the president-elect.” They care whether he had to answer the question; they care whether he discusses any of his dealings with Gov. Blagojevich. And they care not only because they voted for a change in our nation’s political culture; they care because many of them voted for the candidate they did because they took his discussions of change to mean a change from low standards when it comes to corruption or even questionable dealings. People want to trust Barack Obama. Many react badly to people who criticize his integrity or trustworthiness. But again, to expect any President to be forever unscrutinized by the public is naive. And if a a candidate makes people believe he offers more integrity and truthfulness than any of his rivals, it is naive to suppose that President will not be watched closely to see if that President lives up to the standards he himself set.

Thursday: The Village, SIDS and everything

I’ve been searching for a plot summary of the 2008 election and the four years to come.  What explains the way things have played out?  What are the forces at work?  Who has the true power?  I can say with assurance that if the DNC had gone with Hillary Clinton, the party and the country would have been better off, even if the economy and government were in a shambles.  Instead, we have something that is dead before it begins.

But first, a little diversion.  Back in the day, when certain kinds of high powered workstations were new and groovy, they were also prone to failure within a few weeks after delivery.  The technical support specialist would come on site, open the sucker up, poke around a bit and say, “I hate to tell you this but your elunium pu36 explosive space modulator has SIDS and we’ll have to swap it for a different one.”  Hmmm, I would say, perplexed.  What happened?  The TSS would smile thoughtfully.  “It just left the factory that way.  It has a flaw.  Sometimes it’s one thing, sometimes it’s another.  It happens.  We test them before they leave but we don’t test them long enough to catch everything.  If the unit is going to fail, it usually does it within the first month and it’s probably a major failure.  So, we don’t even bother trying to fix it.  We just replace the whole unit.”

Conflucians, the Obama administration has SIDS.  It is already a failure.  It has a flaw in its design.  The flaw has been there since the beginning but the product was so shiny and new and promised to make our lives so much better that many people overlooked it.  The sucker is version 1 and no one in their right mind buys version 1 unless it comes from Apple.  And even then, you make sure you buy it with your platinum VISA with the extended product purchase warantee and a direct line to some geeky Genius.

The QC test for the Obama administration is the Villagers, that little bastion of political pundits and DC courtiers with the narrow minded collective conscious that is stuck in the fifties.  They are the status quo.  They are the power.  Piss off a Villager and your job is misery for four long years.  The Clintons know that the Villagers never forget.  Their memories are lonnnnnnng.  Their grudges never ending.  They pass judgement on everything: Your marriage, your clothes, your children, your interns, your policies that might cost them a teensy bit more in taxes or anything that might make THEIR lives uncomfortable.  You can’t do anything in DC without the approval of the Villagers.  They control the horizontal and the vertical.  Step out of line and your ass is glass.

Both Hillary and Obama knew that.  But where Hillary was willing to take them on and was actually succeeding, pressing forward inch by inch against the hurricane force gusts of Villager hot air, Obama decided to gain their confidence.  He bravely marched over to the Villager side and adopted all of their conventional wisdom.  Hillary was a monster, women should be seen, not heard, the new FISA law is good, telephone companies were viciously maligned, the Iraq War isn’t nearly as bad as we thought, Michelle will make a great “Mom-in-Chief”.

Obama bowed and dipped and flattered and danced a merry little Pavane.  All was cheery and delightful.  He was the perfect solution to their civil rights dilemma.  Why, he is just like them, except a little darker.

Meanwhile, David Axelrod and David Plouffe fluffed the nation’s nipples in extended foreplay, whispering sweet nothings into our ears about how good it was going to feel when Obama finally won.  There would be multiple orgasms across the nation.  It kept building and building and many waited in breathless anticipation for the next big thing, the new electronic gadget that we all had to have by Christmas time.

Well, we’ve got it.  But it will never work right.  Because in order to get the presidency, Obama had to play the Villager game.  And these people might be stubborn in their foolish consistencies but they aren’t stupid.  They know the creature that Obama is.  He’s b-b-b-bad to the bone.  He’s corrupt as all get out.  They know and he knows that Blago knows where all of the bodies are buried.

Now, Obama can make all kinds of promises and policies and have Jon Favreau insert “hope!” and “Change!” into every speech but Obama knows that if he proposes anything to displease the Villagers even one little bit, he’s going to be slung with a big, stinky albatross called Milorod Blagojevich for the duration of his four long years. And we have seen that Obama is very reluctant to court controversy.  He’s not a fighter.  He’s a “get out of town on the day of a tricky vote” kinda guy.  He will not stand up to the Village because he is afraid of them.  Before he can sign one bill into law, Obama is already a non-functioning unit.

So much for hope and change.

As for Hillary, well, we can’t look back.  We can only look forward.  It’s not a good year for her.  It seems like she’s got enemies everywhere but she actually had only one- sexism.  I’ve tried to figure out what it is that would cause her to lose so spectacularly and nothing else makes sense.  It can’t be arrogance because the powers that be tolerated a surfeit of that from Obama.  It’s not stupidity.  She outshined her opponents.  Ruthlessness was hailed in Obama but condemned in her.  I think we have to acknowledge that sexism is at the root of all evils that befell Hillary this year.  It’s the kind of sexism that emanates from political scions like Ted Kennedy, whose own family had issues with women who were a bit too unorthodox.

The Jezebel wore Scarlet

The Jezebel wore Scarlet

His own sister Rosemary was lobotomized, not for mental retardation, but because she was an angry young women who didn’t fit in with her wealthy social climbing family.  Think about that for a sec.  Women in Kennedy’s family were kept in a convent and parts of their brains were removed because they threatened to ruffle the smooth facade of the Kennedy mysitique.  We shouldn’t forget this.  The Ted Kennedy generation of his family is full of socialites with charitable causes, debutantes and women who married for titles.  Women were  definitely subordinate and objects of affection, or non-consensual sex for the likes of Ted Kennedy’s generation.  This is the man who put all of his lever pulling to work for Obama and to the detriment of Hillary Clinton.  This is his mindset.  It’s sexism.

But she nearly beat the old dudes.  Nearly wrested the power away from them.  Nearly banished the Villagers from court.  If it weren’t for the corruption, the flaw, that lies at the core of Obama’s meteoric rise to fame, she could have pulled it off.  Instead, we have a president who will be frozen in amber by that corruption.  Stray but a little from the edge of a knife and he will be the victim of Villager backlash. And they will be vicious.  Blagojevich will be blackmail that keeps Obama in line for the next four years.  Even if Obama had initially courted them with the intent of defusing them with legislation later, this latest scandal with Blagojevich threatens to make that impossible.  It’s already out there and the ties are there, like faint silvery lines just waiting for the press to do its job and illuminate them.  At its own convenience, of course.

The Obama administration has SIDS.
Update: Kudos to Joseph Cannon for bringing us a little Fitzmas.  He’s done a stellar job following the Blagojevich indictment.  Today, he rewrites The Little Drummer Boy and Oh Come, Oh Come Emanuel!  Deeelightful!