My Obama/Blago Scandal Theory

by John Hawkins | December 15, 2008 10:11 am

Here’s what I am thinking is really going on….

Rod Blagojevich was peddling Obama’s Senate seat and trying to get paid. He discussed it with Rahm Emanuel, who then went back and talked it over with Obama. That makes perfect sense, right? Obama was obviously interested in who was going to fill his seat and if Emanuel discussed it with Blagojevich, of course he would have told his boss all the details.

So, Obama finds out Blagojevich is looking for a bribe to fill his Senate seat. He decides not to play ball, but also doesn’t warn the FBI because he doesn’t want to get involved, cheese off his allies in Illinois, create a distraction, etc., etc.

Then, the FBI swoops down on Blagojevich and the press comes to Obama. Obama, being Obama, doesn’t think very quickly on his feet and is used to the press covering up for him when he lies. So, he issues a blanket denial and hopes the whole thing quickly goes away.

Unfortunately for him, the fact that his story smells and that there are tapes that could prove he’s lying peaks interest. The story doesn’t go away. To the contrary, it picks up steam.

Then, it comes out that Emanuel & Blagojevich’s aides[1] talked about the seat and it’s on tape.

Now, we have a real pickle for Obama.

On the one hand, it’s not illegal to fail to disclose that a public official solicited a bribe from you. However, it looks bad for a number of reasons. While Obama wasn’t playing ball, was he going to play ball later? Would Obama be comfortable paying off a bribe in other circumstances? Why wasn’t Obama appalled by the whole situation? Etc., etc.

Typically, the way this would be handled, especially by Obama, would be to say Rahm Emanuel didn’t inform Obama, and to toss him under the bus.

However, because Nancy Pelosi doesn’t like Emanuel and because there is a corruption angle to this, it’s entirely possible that Rahm would lose his leadership position — and to go from Chairman of the Democratic caucus in the House, to White House Chief of Staff, back to a run-of-the-mill Congressman with a cloud over his head, all in a few weeks time, would be a very bitter pill to swallow indeed. So, although being willing to fall on your spear for the President goes with the job description, that might be asking a bit much given the circumstances.

So, what does Obama do? If he keeps Emanuel on, it looks bad at this point. On the other hand, if he dumps him, Emanuel will be under enormous pressure to let the real truth get out — that he didn’t say anything because Obama didn’t want him to do so. It’s not an enviable spot to be in.

  1. Emanuel & Blagojevich’s aides:

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