As President-elect Obama is beginning to dig in to real work of a President, he experienced his first real shot of political humility today. While many Obama fans moved quickly to claim their certainty about the former-Illinois Senator’s involvement with Governor Blagojevich’s attempts to sell the vacant Senate seat, this event has increased the level of uncertainty about Mr. Obama’s true ability to lead the country in what is a very difficult and challenging time.
But, rest assure, Mr. Obama is not sifting through this scandal without allies. He has his always ready army of reporters, which some refer to as the mainstream media, who are ready to defend Obama’s abilities to walk on water, and attack anyone who claims otherwise. In their attempts to act impartial, the AP made an effort to come across like true journalists, while in the midst of defending the President-elect’s name at every turn. I really enjoyed the Weekly Standard’s analysis of the AP’s ‘reporting’ (term used loosely) on the situation.
Ok, so I’m having some fun with this. In reality, this situation isn’t going to hurt President-elect Obama much at all. Republicans will no doubt use it, but it will most likely be long forgotten in a few months. I seriously doubt any real connection will be made between Obama and Blagojevich. The real challenge for Team Obama come re-election time will be anything else the redeveloping GOP research machine might uncover about Barack Obama’s time in one of the most corrupt politicall environments outside sub-Saharan Africa.
The reality is that no one can rise through the Chicago political scene without doing some things that even the most skilled politician might term as “questionable.” What’s most interesting about the whole thing is that no one there attempts to hide anything. This actually lends an explanation to the question of how Blagojevich could have been so naive as to think no one would ever find out about his efforts to openly sell the open Senate seat to the highest bidder. At first, I assumed the Governor was just really dumb; however, as I emerged further into the situation’s analysis, it donned on me that he just suffered from the illness of all Illinois politicians - he thought he was untouchable. And, the GOP won’t hesitate to intervene as Eliot Ness and Jim Malone, with cool Sean Connery accent and all.
So, what will the fallout be for the Obama-Biden Administration? Well, first things first, Mr. Obama can ask his Vice President, who has considerable experience distancing himself from embarrasing scandals. Overall, I doubt the Transition Team is all that concerned with this issue. They will manage it on the PR front, but that’s about it. I have no doubt the response will be something along the lines of, “President-elect Obama had no involvement in the events leading to the arrest of Gov. Blagojevich, and going forward, he would like to focus on resolving the economic and financial crisis that is on the minds of most Americans.” The incoming White House will likely say nothing more than that on the issue, nor should they.
This doesn’t mean there won’t be any fallout for Mr. Obama. He is about to face a great deal of struggles and his first term will not be a breaze by any means. Indeed, I have talked before how the challenges he will face may very likely chip away at his untarnished reputation, to the point of the American voting public turning on him when he inevitably fails on some of his promises. And, this is not a shot at Barack Obama’s ability - I am simply saying that the challenges the country face cannot be solved in a short time or by one individual, regardless of what that is or what political party they represent. John McCain would experience the same problem, to the point that I would seriously doubt the ability of McCain to have been re-elected if he won the election. George Bush couldn’t solve them. Even Ronald Reagan didn’t receive his superstar status until well after his Presidency (or at least towards the end of it).
What I am saying here is that four years won’t be enough to solve all of the challenges we’re facing, which include a major recession, insolvency in the financial markets, two major wars, significant domestic issues (immigration, healthcare, etc) and serious national security threats. The best the incoming President can hope for is to keep up a positive sentiment long enough to get him into a second term, because there will be a lot of disappointed Americans when they realize that those promises from President-elect Obama were never possible in the first place.