Christmas is coming and, like Scrooge conducted to the Crachits’ by the Ghost of Christmas Present, we peer in at the rightbloggers’ meager festivities, though we confess the effect is less improving for us than it was for Dickens’ miser. We see their tables laden with but small dishes, their tree graced by only shabby, shopworn presents, and hope receding that Tiny Norm will survive. But at least they have the spirit, and makes the scene tolerable — indeed, hilarious.
The Rod Blagojevich treasure-trove of cursing and corruption continues to delight all fans of political scandal and, as Democrats are involved, rightbloggers are also celebrating. But as we saw last week, the Fitzmas plum for which they have been hoping is Obama, whom they have portrayed as fatally damaged by Patrick Fitzgerald’s widening gyre. Their hopes in this regard are quickly receding, though, as incoming Obama Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel’s speculated “21 calls” to Blagojevich have been downgraded to “call” (singular), and evidence of an Obama quid pro quo remains unseen.
That hasn’t slaked their ardor, but it has lowered their standards for corruption to a ridiculous degree.
The Strata-Sphere seized on former San Francisco Willie Brown’s report that Emanuel remonstrated with Blagojevich on his alleged plan to appoint Lisa Madigan to Obama’s Senate seat. This sort of arm-twisting, if it indeed happened, sounds to us like nothing more than old-fashioned politics. But Strata found “Obama pressuring a sitting governor to allow the President-Elect to dictate the selection” to be even more damning than the still-outstanding charges against Blagojevich.
“The President-Elect may make his wishes known,” Strata conceded, “but if he was putting political or financial pressure on a sitting Governor to override his choice for the Senate Obama is going to be truly damaged goods.” (Strata did not indicate whether Emanuel’s customary threat of “I’m going to fuck you” would meet this definition of pre-Presidential malfeasance.)
Others rightbloggers made of this what they could — mainly by characterizing the flimsy case as damningly as circumstances would allow, and then some. Flopping Aces was outraged that Obama, or Emanuel, may have suggested a suitable Senate replacement to Blagojevich. “First we were told it was Blagojevich who was upset that Obama wasn’t giving any quid pro quo for the empty Senate seat,” explained author Curt. “It was the corrupt Blago wanting something for the seat. But now the situation may have changed. Did Blago want something for the seat because Obama was pressuring him to select someone he wanted?” That would be inducement, or entrapment, or the near occasion of sin or something. “Was the pressure illegal? No idea,” admitted Curt, “But the fact that Obama and his team lied about their role in this affair is big.”
Can you imagine the public’s response when they hear Emanuel may have suggested a Senator before Blagojevich started soliciting bribes? It would shake Obamalot to its very foundations. But “expect the MSM to ignore it all,” added Curt, thus preempting any questions as to the lack of outrage at this bombshell.
Ed Morrissey cited a rather anti-incriminating exchange between Blagojevich chief of staff John Harris and Emanuel (“All we get is appreciation, right?” “Right”), but found unexpected meaning in it: “That question… may not be explicit enough to qualify legally as an offer to bribe,” said Morrissey, “but it clearly shows that Harris wanted a better deal than gratitude for the Senate seat”; so if Obama did not, upon hearing about this extremely veiled solicitation (if he did hear about it), “pick up the phone and inform the FBI and/or Patrick Fitzgerald… then Obama and his team are off to a disastrous start, ethically speaking.” One only has to connect the dots, after first drawing the dots oneself.
Others had a go: Extreme Mortman revealed that, while in a poll by the Washington Post “Obama generally gets high marks,” 34 percent felt he hadn’t done enough to explain the Blagojevich scandal — which Mortman asserted could “spoil the Inauguration.” His concern is touching, but rightbloggers would be better advised to attend to their own mood. At Commentary Jennifer Rubin wanly laid out what we expect will be their post-scandal spin: “Lack of criminal liability is an awfully low bar to hop over.”
Not enough there to stuff a stocking. It’s also hard for rightbloggers to work up a decent “huzzah” against the share-the-wealth policies of Obama, with their erstwhile hero George Bush speeding our slide into socialism with a car-company bailout (though some of them did try). Michelle Malkin wanted to file a lawsuit, but others just filed a complaint, then moved on to such Obama outrages as the cost of the Inauguration. (Flopping Aces, though, found a wonderful patriotic angle, praising Ford for not taking any bailout money and showing a Ford commercial in which people are nice to soldiers, which “conveyed the national pride that that I’d like to believe may just hike them up by their bootstraps to their previous stature in history.” If Chrysler and GM start waving flags — and we rather expect they will — perhaps all will be forgiven.)
So they sought consoling crumbs where they could. Giggles over Obama’s choice of a gay-rights opponent to deliver the Inaugural invocation got them through a few days, and there is an effort afoot to work up controversy over Elizabeth Alexander, the inaugural poet who is black and uses bad words. But we can’t expect rightbloggers to get too excited about poetry, unless Alexander performs it in a running suit over phat beats.
Even the War on Christmas, in which some of them found pleasure some weeks back, seems to have wound down (despite some valiant efforts); maybe even these excitable souls are realizing that the real enemy of our winter shopping holiday is not obstreperous atheists but the rancid economy.
This review has left us in a generous, Christmasy mood. Be of good cheer, rightbloggers: If this yuletide isn’t all you’d hoped, there’s always January 20, when Obama ascends to the Presidency and becomes the true, official target of blame for everything. There’ll be payback for Bush Derangement Syndrome, in spades, so to speak! Till then God rest ye merry, and our thanks for another year of fine sport.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on December 22, 2008