Buried in all the reports of Barak Obama’s bogus explanation of the Jeremiah Wright scandal is the fact that the Illinois Senator visited the offices of the Chicago Tribune yesterday to give a bogus explanation about the Rezko scandal. You see the Senator first corrected the amount Rezko raised for his campaign (what’s $100,000 between friends). Then he says that he was duped by his buddy Tony:
Obama: I trusted RezkoRezko behind him, presidential candidate Barack Obama on Friday said he never thought the now indicted Chicago businessman would try to take advantage of him because his old friend had never asked for a political favor.
…After news reports of Rezko’s questionable political dealings first emerged in 2005, Obama said he asked his friend about them. Rezko assured him there was nothing wrong. “My instinct was to believe him,” he said.
Gee if he can be duped by a Political hood in Chicago just imagine what Bashar al-Assad or Mahmoud Abbas will do to him. There is hope for the Senator, John Kass columnist for the Tribune was at the interview. He doesn’t think that Obama was duped…he thinks that he wasn’t telling the truth. I feel MUCH better now.
Barack Obama looked me straight in the eye. I heard him speak. Yet unlike some other pundits, I felt no thrill going up my leg.
I did feel a twinge of Rezko, though, and figured Obama could feel it, too, like when the bottom of your foot cramps up inside your shoe and you can’t dance.
That’s “hardball” the Chicago way, as Barack visited the Tribune on Friday to discuss his old friend, fundraiser and real estate fairy, indicted political fixer Tony Rezko. Rezko himself was quite busy, in federal custody, preparing for this week’s testimony in his corruption trial.
Obama spoke at length about wanting to emerge clean from the cesspool of Chicago politics. He also spoke about his controversial pastor, Rev. Jeremiah Wright, whose racially charged and radically anti-American comments Obama denounced without denouncing the man. There will be more to say on Wright and liberal media guilt and tortured Democratic formulations of race and gender in future days.
But I was focused on Obama and Rezko. I wanted to believe Obama, and almost did.
Afterward, we joked about smoking cigarettes together after the election—and promised not to tell our wives, since we’ve both quit.
If he is elected, he can smoke whenever, like a grown-up, even in the Oval Office, and I’d even lie to Congress about his smoking, just as long as President Obama keeps his mouth shut about me.
Later, when the people from other floors weren’t hanging in the halls like Bono groupies at a U2 concert, I was left alone with a problem: Obama asks us to believe he can swim in the sewers of Illinois politics without catching a cold. He tells us that Rezko helped him scope out his dream house, yet Obama never thought he’d get a call from Tony saying his back was itchy.
“No,” Obama said. “Because I had known him for a long time, and so I would have assumed I would have seen a pattern [of Rezko asking for favors] over the course of 15 years.”
I’m too old to believe in fairy tales.
At issue is the purchase of the Obama dream house on the South Side in 2005. The Rezkos bought the lot next door from the same owners on the same day, even as Tony was leprous with federal subpoenas. The Obamas paid $300,000 less than the asking price. The Rezkos paid the full list for the lot. Everybody was happy until Tony got indicted.
Was it a favor, with a bigger payout intended for later?
“No,” Obama said again, reiterating that I was wrong for writing that he needed Rezko’s help to buy his home.
Obama said he asked Rezko about the federal investigations, if Rezko had any problems, and Tony said no, and Barack believed it.
What will he say when Vladimir Putin of Russia asks President Obama to believe him? President Bush has already looked into Putin’s eyes, thought he saw a soul in there, and was greatly mistaken.
So I left half-satisfied, thinking Obama more naive than crooked, wondering what the Daleys of Chicago and the Kennedys of Massachusetts will do to him.
Obama was asked if coming out of the most politically corrupt city in America hinders his image as a reform candidate for the presidency.
“Look, Sen. [Hillary] Clinton comes out of New York, and there are apparently some issues there as well,” he said, chuckling about the flameout of Clinton’s superdelegate and soon-to-be-former-governor, Eliot Spitzer. “I think that all of you have been following my career for some time. I think that I have done a good job in rising politically in this environment, without being entangled in some of the traditional problems of Chicago politics.
“I know that there are those, like John Kass, who would like me to decry Chicago politics more frequently.”
Just the corrupt parts, I said.
“I’ll leave that to his editorial commentary, but I think it’s fair to say that I have conducted myself in my public office with great care and high ethical standards,” he said.
Except for Rezko.
He did state, unequivocally, that if elected president, he would keep U.S. Atty. Patrick Fitzgerald as the federal hammer in Chicago, no small announcement given that Rezko is on trial and Obama ally Mayor Richard Daley is feeling federal heat.
Obama and Republican John McCain are the only presidential candidates who have formally committed to Fitzgerald. Hillary remains mum on the subject. Perhaps she and Bill hope to hold a federal carrot or a stick out to the Daley boys, should she win the Democratic nomination.
“I think he [Fitzgerald] has been aggressive in putting the city on notice and the state on notice that he takes issues of public corruption seriously,” Obama said.
Will this announcement on Fitzgerald harm your relationships with Chicago politicians?
“I can’t speculate on that,” he said. “You can.”
I disagree with his policies, but I like the man. And I almost liked his answers. Almost.