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American Dream Betrayed

Obama's Senate Seat Saga

A look inside the Obama transition team's internal report.

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"Emanuel has declined to speak to reporters about his role in Senate succession and left for vacation in Africa before the report's release," the Tribune reports. "In a conference call with reporters, Craig characterized Emanuel's conversations with Blagojevich as 'completely innocent' and 'completely appropriate'."

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Transparency policy: we'll post our carefully calibrated positions and failures to comment on our website and make our bullshit transparent!

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"Craig said his investigation should put to rest any suspicion that Obama's staff was involved in dealmaking, but the timeline of conversations in the report contained apparent inconsistencies that raised new questions about Emanuel's role on behalf of the president-elect."

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Ed Genson says his internal report should put to rest an suspicion about his client too!

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"Craig's report also did not explain why Blagojevich felt he had been rebuffed by Obama's transition team in trying to cut a deal to name Jarrett to the Senate."

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"Obama has portrayed himself as taking a hands-off appraach to the governor's decision about whom to appoint to his Senate seat. But the report noted that he was very interested in who would succeed him in the Senate."

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Should reporters to whom Emanuel leaked Valerie Jarrett's name as trial balloons now come clean and reveal him as their source? And is it even remotely possible he was "freelancing" against Obama's wishes?

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"Emanuel, in a follow-up call to Harris, later added two names approved by Obama: Atty. Gen. Lisa Madigan and Cheryle Jackson, a former Blagojevich spokeswoman who now heads the Chicago Urban League."

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Why would Obama add Madigan's name to the list? To clear the field for his gubernatorial-minded pal, Alexi Giannoulias.

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"Jarrett did not perceive Balanoff to be speaking 'as an emissary of Gov. Blagojevich' in the conversation, Craig said."

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Is it remotely possible that Jarrett, a veteran of the Daley administration and former board member of the CHA, CTA and various other tasks in the guts of the Machine, failed to see what was so plainly going on? How would such weak perceptive skills square with all those glowing profiles of her as the savvy strategist who is "the other half of Obama's brain"?

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"Obama also said 'he had no interest in dictating the results of the selection process and he would not do so, either directly or indirectly through staff or others,' the report said, adding that Whitaker relayed that information to Peters."

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But we know that Obama indeed did try to influence the selection process.

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Then again, if Jarrett bailed because the process was dirty, why this?

"After Jarrett removes herself from consideration from the Senate seat, Obama discusses other qualified candidates with Emanuel and Obama adviser Axelrod, including U.S. Rep. Jan Schakowsky, U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr., state Comptroller Dan Hynes and Illinois Veterans Affairs Director Tammy Duckworth. Obama understands that Emanuel will relay these names to Blagojevich's office."

And again, if Obama "understands" that Emanuel will relay these names to Blagojevich's office, how is that not trying to influence the selection process?

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"But the report, when meshed with allegations in Blagojevich's criminal complaint, portrays Jarrett as being far more involved in seeking to be appointed to the Senate than has been previously known," the Sun-Times reports. "She removed herself from consideration after a conversation with a union official who had spoken with Blagojevich."

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Emanuel listened to at least one recording, according to an AP report.

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"Blagojevich, the complaint indicates, met with Balanoff around Nov. 5, at which time the governor understood Balanoff 'was an emissary' to discuss Jarrett's interest in the Senate seat."

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"'Though their conversation would seem to suggest that Blagojevich - who holds the sole power to appoint Obama's replacement - was seeking a quid pro quo, 'Ms. Jarrett did not understand the conversation to suggest that the governor wanted the cabinet seat as a quid pro quo for selecting any specific candidate to be the President-elect's replacement,' the Obama report states."

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"Obama, who has downplayed his role in the Senate selection process, 'believed it appropriate to provide the names of multiple candidates to be considered," according to the report."

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"Unlike other contenders, who went hat-in-hand to Blagojevich - under an ethics cloud even before he was arrested Dec. 9 on public corruption charges - Jarrett did not approach the governor directly. I can see why. Would have been off message," Lynn Sweet writes.

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In other words, don't taint the image with reality.

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Greg "Alberto" Craig is going to be Obama's White House counsel.

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"What Emanuel did not know was that Obama 'had ruled out communicating a preference for any one candidate'."

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And yet, that's just what Obama did.

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"No one suggested a link or quid pro quo."

Um, Patrick Fitzgerald did. C'mon!

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"Just after accepting the top post with Obama, Rahm Emanuel discussed with Blagojevich the possibility of keeping his congressional seat 'warm' for him for a couple of years, the Sun-Times has learned."

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Shouldn't Obama be asked if the thinks this is appropriate behavior for his chief of staff?

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"Sources said Obama broached the subject of finding a candidate to temporarily fill the seat . . . there was discussion about whether Blagojevich could appoint an interim replacement, according to the criminal complaint in the governor's case."

That's instead of the special election called for by law.

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"The report suggested that Mr. Obama had been more involved in thinking about his Senate successor than his public statements about the topic had indicated," the New York Times reports.

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That's been clearly established. The question is: Why? Why the phony feints, Barack? My hunch is that Obama did not want to appear to be acting like a political boss - even though that's just what he was doing and it wouldn't have been inappropriate in this case. But also, if Obama actually did choose his successor in the U.S. Senate, he couldn't have helped but peeve off some of those who wouldn't have gotten the job. Barack Obama is a political animal of the first kind, and he tried to navigate a potential minefield - helping to turn it into a real one.



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Posted on December 31, 2008


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