By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

In search of a crime

Jay Fitzgerald rounds up more on the matter of whether Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich broke the law simply because he wanted something in return for a Senate seat.

Everybody wants something. Some somethings are legal, some aren’t. But simply being a foul-mouthed, arrogant moron is not a crime.

Jon Keller doesn’t like Barry Coburn’s op-ed in today’s New York Times, in which Coburn takes U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald to task for his inflammatory anti-Blago rhetoric.

I think Coburn makes some good points, though. A prosecutor in a high-profile political-corruption case has enormous credibility with the public, as the charges invariably play into (often justified) cynicism about politics.

I come neither to praise nor bury Blago. But let’s calm down until we see the specifics.

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  1. Bill Baar

    The troubling thing is not any crime, just the stupidity of talking with the Guv. Dan Curry nails it here.We’re in for some very hard times.

  2. Dan Kennedy

    Bill: You’ve got to be kidding. Blago is the governor, and he gets to pick the interim senator. (Or at least that was the case before last week.) The idea that an aide to Obama can’t have an appropriate, legal conversation with a sitting governor about an important matter is ludicrous.If Obama had adopted such a policy, it would not have been a matter of good governance — it would have been simply to pander to his most knee-jerk critics. It would make as much sense for him to prepare a dossier proving that he really was, honest to God, born in the United States and isn’t a Muslim.

  3. Bill Baar

    Forget the crime.Obama lost his negotiations with Blago.Obama should have had the horse sense to stay clear of Blago.Read Curry.Obama’s been humiliated. He can’t negotiate with the Gov of Illinois and achieve his goals.The rest of the world is going to note Blago made a chump of the Prez Elect.The crime –if any– is the least of our worries here.A weak Obama is a big worry.

  4. Rick in Duxbury

    About 20 years ago, my wife and I were at a fancy resort in Jamaica, (Tryall Golf Club, I won a contest). Met some ADA’s from Cook County, one of whom hit on my wife. Watching the news the other night, my wife yelled “Ohmigod, it’s Rod with the weird hair from Jamaica!” You can’t make this stuff up. A slug then and a slug now. (Does explain how a guy ostensibly making $30-40k could afford a $500 a night room in the late 80’s, though. He started early taking bribes, I guess.)

  5. bostonmediawatch

    Horse-trading for favors, even for a Senate seat, is just politics.Bringing cash into it is entirely different.But there’s nothing wrong with Obama and/or his staff talking to Blago about the vacancy.The Feds have Blago on tape saying he can’t get anything from Obama. In the short-term, that’s the end of Obama getting any Blago-stink on him.The hysterics of Dems like the Attorney General Madigan aren’t particularly helpful. It’s overkill.In this case, Fitzgerald will reel in whatever fish there are to be had, because there’ll be plenty of singing fish.

  6. Aaron Read

    I feel it’s a little understandable if Fitzgerald feels he has to grandstand quite a bit to make sure Blagojevich stops in his tracks and doesn’t appoint a US Senator in an incredibly suspect manner. Once that appointment is made, it’s a hella hard to un-make it…so Fitzgerald is doing everyone in Congress a favor. Which probably tells you all you need to know about why Fitzgerald is doing it. I’d be amazed if there isn’t some heavy pressure coming down on him from the entire US Senate to make sure Blago doesn’t make that appointment.Plus, I mean, Fitzgerald’s been screwed by politics before. He busted his ass to nail Scooter Libby to the wall (and sadly, Libby was just the fall guy) and had to sit back and watch as Bush totally emasculated him on the spot with that sentence commuting. By damning Blago before there’s even a trial, he’s ensuring that Blago can’t weasle his way OUT of a trial.Think about it, if Blago appoints himself as a US Senator, he’s got all those extra resources to stymie an investigation, no matter how outraged everyone is. But thanks to Fitzgerald, if Blago appoints himself to the Senate, the rest of the Senate will immediately convene and boot him out before 24 hours have passed.

  7. bostonmediawatch

    From what I know about Obama, I expect he managed to slither his way through Chicago machine politics without getting too much on him.For the righties to portray this as weakness is laughable.You have to wonder how many false bottoms there are in Chicago politics.

  8. O'Reilly

    The righties are pathetic losers. Everywhere they look they signs of the apocalypse. Too bad they weren’t looking with such scrutiny when Bush was running the ship of state and the economy into the ground instead of enabling him.Bill Baar should be required to disclose whether he listens to Rush Limbaugh or Hugh Hewitt and the ‘facts’ he learned there that he draws on for his comments.

  9. Rick in Duxbury

    “Bill Baar should be required to disclose whether he listens to Rush Limbaugh or Hugh Hewitt”. What he or I listen to is none of your damn business, pal. Where are you posting from, Pyongyang?

  10. Peter Porcupine

    Mr. O’Reilly: who died and left you boss? Shall you be posting a list of your favorite media sources?DK – Obama did nothing illegal, or even immoral. So why the weaseling? It was the same with Wright – never HEARD such a thing, until the videotape was produced. Claimed to be only a distant acquaintance of ‘some guy in the neighborhood’, until he needed to populate the underside of his bus again. Why he couldn’t just say, “Some of their rhetoric creeped me out, but hey, they RAN Chicago politics when I was getting started, so I had to play along..until now.”It’s the prissy weasel factor. Somebody needs to tell him that it’s never the lie, but the cover up.

  11. O'Reilly

    Rick, You listen to Rush down there in Deluxebury, don’t you? Um, Rush is not news, it’s propaganda. I’m just saying, you might want to corroborate what Rush has to say with a news source that cares about accuracy. I was impressed by an article that Mort Kondracke wrote recently that said, “Can we continue to listen to Rush Limbaugh?” Is this really the kind of party that we want to be, when these kinds of spokespersons seem to appeal to our lesser instincts rather than our better instincts?-Colin PowellPowell on Fareed Zakaria – What’s Wrong With RepublicansSince, you asked. I live in a small town (thus, I have small town value.)

  12. Rick in Duxbury

    So if I’m following, you quote Powell who quotes Kondracke who quotes Limbaugh. Yeah, I can see why you’re losing sleep about “accuracy”. In that vein, it has been years since anyone used the old saw about “Deluxebury”, with the notable exception of Howie Carr. I’m sure he’s glad he still has listeners with “small town value (sic)”.

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