It’s a rare treat when liberals and conservatives can get together, and they seem to agree that Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich is one awesome crook. Lefty outlets have been following the Blagojevich “fiasco,” exploring the linkages between Blagojevich and Illinois politicians who might accommodate his desire to “make some money” off Obama’s vacated Senate seat, and his ties to Senator-designate Roland Burris.
But rightbloggers are not by and large very interested in such mundane quid-pro-quo details. Symbols are what they seek — names and terms they can use to dirty up Obama. During the election campaign, they tirelessly sought scandals to bring him down and, when they couldn’t find anything substantive, turned to non-existent Michelle Obama tapes, birth certificate stories, and other ephemera.
Now events have handed them a real scandal — though one with a mainly geographical relation to Obama — and something more like a tsimmis than a scandal, involving a cabinet appointee who perhaps mischaracterized his fitness for office and has been prevented from taking it. It’s thin stuff, but rightbloggers have feasted on thinner.
The Blagojevich mess has got them talking a lot about “Illinois politics” (“There are two kinds of politicians in Illinois,” says Classical Values. “Crooks and those who haven’t been caught”), in hopes that readers will remember that Obama is from Illinois and implicate him on that basis. Illinois’ own Backyard Conservative is tireless in establishing casual links between the President-Elect and the Governor. “Yes, [Burris] lost to Illinois current disgraced Governor Rod Blagojevich,” she wrote. “But one prominent Democrat who supported Roland Burris at the time?… Barack Obama. And they both supported Blagojevich’s reelection as Governor in 2006, at a time when he was under at least nine federal corruption investigations.” Elsewhere: “It’s democracy the Chicago Way, Barack Obama’s political stomping grounds.” She also refers to “President Whitewash” and “ChicagObama.” Basically, if Blagojevich cuts a fart, Backyard Conservative holds her nose and points to Obama.
Conversely, when Democrats try (however ineptly) to block Blagojevich’s appointment to the Senate, they are accused of racism. “So at at time when there isn’t a single black person in the U.S. Senate, a black man arrives at the doorway and means to go forward to take what he believes is his rightful seat… great imagery, Democrats!” said Ann Althouse, who includes a picture of George Wallace standing in a schoolhouse door. “Shades of Democrat George Wallace!” concurred Don Surber.
“What a great symbol of Democratic Party inclusiveness!” added the American Spectator. “Tuesday we may be treated to the sight of an elderly African-American being led off the Senate floor in handcuffs because his sitting there would be contrary to the collective wish of old, white Democrats,” said RedState. “The home of racism in this country is and has always been the Democratic Party,” asserted RightwingSparkle. Well, at least we’ve stopped hearing that Obama’s election proved the country has gotten beyond racism, if only for a couple of minutes.
Their better bet would be to point out that “Above all else, Rod Blagojevich is a DEMOCRAT,” as NewsBlaze upper-cased it, “a fact which in no way excuses his felonies, but which does help explain the medical root cause of his crimes. Liberalism is a mental disease!” Helping that cause along is Bill Richardson, who this weekend pre-resigned his Secretary of Commerce appointment to spend more time with his federal investigators.
As there’s no percentage in warning the nation about “New Mexico politics” — indeed, Commentary‘s Jennifer Rubin quickly took it back home, saying “with the advent of this incident and of Blago-gate, it is fair to ask whether the Chicago crowd isn’t too relaxed about the appearance of corruption” — this too is a crisis of unprecedented proportions for Obama, or as Ed Morrissey put it, his “his first brush with scandal in his administration.” (Technically there isn’t an Obama Administration yet, but why quibble? Opportunity knocks, and so do they.)
Some looked forward to further blood on the cabinet floor. Michelle Malkin hoped “the Richardson bungle will embolden Republicans for a fight over Eric Holder.” In fact, to MacsMind this meant maybe they’re all crooks: “What then don’t we know about other key cabinet picks?” Ace of Spades suggested Hillary Clinton might be next out the door (Stop the ACLU playfully referred to this as a “fishy smell”); Daily Pundit suggested Clinton was actually behind Richardson’s defenestration.
Some reached further afield for Obama-slanging materiel. Wizbang took the opportunity to suggest that Obama will seek to “find another Hispanic for the SoC post” because “once a cabinet post is to be filled by a diversity candidate it must remain a ‘diversity’ post throughout the administration. A white female or African-American will not do. This seat must be filled by a Hispanic. Preferably one with a name more obviously Hispanic than Bill Richardson.” The great thing about so slight a scandal as the pre-emptive dismissal of a cabinet official is that it can be used to attack Obama on a wide variety of grounds, including affirmative action.
As Obama is widely thought to have pressured Richardson’s resignation, it also gives nostalgic rightbloggers a chance to revive the old “under the bus” routine.
Overall the rightblogger consensus is that the Obama almost-Administration is hopelessly corrupt, and Obama’s dismissal of a possibly tainted official before he even took office proves it. One can only imagine what they would have made of the removal of sitting cabinet member Simon Cameron by that other compromised Illinois politician, Abraham Lincoln.
Meanwhile PowerLine, oddly pleased to see Obama mocked at an anti-Israel rally in Jakarta, said, “Many liberals enjoyed the disgusting attacks on President Bush by anti-American critics around the world. It will be interesting to see how they react when Obama is the target.” Actually, we’re already quite accustomed to it. When it comes to attacking not-yet-President-Obama, the rest of the world will have a very hard time catching up with rightbloggers.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on January 5, 2009