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Obama and the Governor

The brewing scandal involving Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich popped up a couple times on the show today. Charlie Baysel weighed in from Chicago on the unfolding media and political circus. Michele called in from North Dakota. Both seemed of the opinion that the issue would blow off and not overly taint Obama. Michele keep repeating that federal prosecutor Fitzgerald made it clear that there was no evidence linking Obama to Blagojevich.

I agree with Charlie and Michele that I don’t believe Obama was personally involved in any way.

However, I’m not as confident that his staff is as immune. Nor is it clear yet whether Obama can avoid be hurt by what is happening in Chicago. I grew up in the Chicago ‘burbs and it seems like little has changed. You ain’t seen nothing until you’ve witnessed Chicago politics up close. There’s nothing like it. Nothing. Of course, Blagojevich has taken things to a new low, but as I argued with Michele tonight, “perception is reality.” As Obama is trying to define himself to the nation, he is once again being defined by others. If he has staff members who were involved in a possible sale of the Illinois Senate seat, well, I think that damages Obama’s crediblity and weakens him as he starts his presidency.

It is particularly challenging for Obama because the national media is in town to cover his administration and this is a slow news cycle as we approach the holidays. Don’t be surprised if he leaves for Hawaii early or suddenly shows up in Washington — just to get the focus off Chicago. We’ll see.

So the verdict is far from in, but I disagree with my liberal friends who are trying to dismiss this and dash forward. I don’t think we know all the facts and the cloud hangs over Obama until we do. I’m hoping that both Obama and his staff emerge unscathed from this and we have a chance to get back to the issues. We’ll see.

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