The Campaign Spot

Like Columbo, I Have Just One More Question

Certain members of the press proclaim that the Obama team’s self-examination is sufficient to declare that there is nothing to see here, move along. Lynn Sweet of the Chicago Sun-Times, on MSNBC a moment ago said, “it works for now . . . for now, I think [Obama]’s going to be in the clear.”

The editors of the Washington Post conclude that “it appears for now that Mr. Obama and his team can put this distraction behind them.”

But this scandal/nonscandal/brouhaha is following a certain pattern — we’re told that there is nothing there, we learn some new and surprising information, and then we are told again that there is nothing there. For example, yesterday we learned:

The report also revealed for the first time that officials with the U.S. attorney’s office investigating the Blagojevich case interviewed Obama on Dec. 18 as part of their criminal probe. Emanuel was interviewed on Dec. 20, and longtime Obama friend and adviser Valerie Jarrett was interviewed on Dec. 19.

A U.S. Attorney interviewing the president-elect as part of a criminal probe would seem to be a fairly significant bit of news, no? Yet it’s in paragraph four of a page A3 story.

Hugh asks a basic question that no one in the MSM has asked yet: “Was the President under oath during that discussion?” And a follow-up for the U.S. Attorney’s office: If not, why not?

Beyond that, as we discussed on his program last night, if there was no evidence that Blagojevich’s corruption ever came within several nautical miles of Obama’s team . . . why did the U.S. Attorney’s office want to interview Obama, Jarrett, and Emanuel? Clearly, these investigators weren’t just sitting down to say “hi.” Something made them feel the need to ask questions of these figures; something in their investigation led them to those figures.

Also note this strange detail:

One conversation described in Fitzgerald’s complaint hinted that the governor was frustrated by contacts with Obama or his staff.

“Blagojevich said he knows that the President-elect wants Senate Candidate 1 for the Senate seat,” the complaint states, referring to an individual many believe to be Jarrett, and goes on to quote Blagojevich as saying: “But ‘they’re not willing to give me anything except appreciation. [Expletive] them.’ “

The report helps explain the first part of that statement: In his early conversations with the governor, Emanuel touted Jarrett as the best candidate, according to the Obama memo, before learning from Obama that he wanted to remain neutral on the subject.

The return of the rogue staffer! Just as Axelrod felt comfortable saying on Chicago television that he knew that Obama and Blagojevich had spoken about who would be appointed — a statement he retracted when that assertion contradicted Obama’s denials — we are to believe that Emanuel, on his own, felt the need to articulate Obama’s opinion on his successor without actually speaking to Obama.

Maybe they’re telling the truth, and they commonly speak to others about what Obama wants without speaking about the topic with Obama . . . but a more cynical mind would wonder if they were covering for their boss.


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