Most of the thoughts in this Politico article – “Big risks for Obama in Blago scandal” – are already familiar to our readers, so I won’t review the article’s content beyond the basics: the danger for the new administration is not that they end up being directly implicated in dirty Illinois politics, but that they get associated with it. We’re already seeing a certain amount of public contradictions on just how much Obama and Blagojevich discussed the former’s replacement; and there’s going to be more of that. This is going to get tangled before the end, folks.
But I actually want to focus on these two paragraphs from the article (H/T: Instapundit):
And, in a Politico interview, Illinois state Republican chairman Andy McKenna, pressed Obama to commit to keeping U.S. attorney Patrick Fitzgerald in his post until the corruption cases run their course.
“What he should do tomorrow is say, ‘Patrick Fitzgerald has a job and can have for as long as he wants,'” McKenna told Politico. “Some have wondered if Barack Obama would keep Fitzgerald [as U.S. Attorney]. It would be great if he confirms that he plans to.”
It’s been claimed already that President-elect Obama intends to keep Fitzgerald on; but under the circumstances, it behooves the man to make it clear right now that even if every other US Attorney gets fired on January 21, 2009, Fitzgerald stays where he is – untouched, unspoiled, and unmolested. Because – and I will give the Left this one for free – if Obama gets rid of Fitzgerald while he’s still setting up a trial for the second sitting Illinois Governor that he’s indicted, there is no chance at all that this will not be seen as a brazen attempt by a Democratic President to save a Democratic colleague. There is equally no chance that massive amounts of political hay will be made of this, either.
Look, I am willing to believe Fitzgerald when he says that there’s no evidence that Obama was involved with what Blagojevich was indicted for (although I’d still like to know why the heck the two apparently weren’t consulting on Obama’s replacement), but the unique nature of this case requires strong action to avoid the classic phrase “appearance of impropriety.” That means that Fitzgerald is now bulletproof, and needs to be acknowledged as bulletproof… because until Obama signs off on the political reality, people are going to be pointedly asking why he hasn’t, yet. And many of those people will have louder voices than me.
PS: One thought for those thinking that firing Fitzgerald will allow for an eventually quiet life for the new President: it looks quite possible that there’ll be a special election for Senator next year, and the next gubernatorial election for Illinois is in 2010. Patrick Fitzgerald is currently too busy indicting, prosecuting, and sending to jail crooked politicians to participate in either. If he’s fired in January, he won’t be.
Contemplate the implications of that.