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Thursday, December 11, 2008

More on Governor B and the Feds

Folks love a good scandal. Politicians caught with their hands in the cookie jar or with their flies open satisfies a deep and too rarely fulfilled need to prick the huge balloon of bourgeois hypocrisy.

But behind every public exposure is a political back story of intrigue, connivance and opportunism. Only a freshman journalism student still believes that good stories are simply mined from the everyday labors of hard working reporters or picked like ripe plums from the myriad events of the day. Stories are leaked, provoked, manipulated, and choreographed. In an age where the line between news and entertainment is blurred, at a time when careerism, self-interest, and political advantage motivates, this is especially true. If you're a Marxist, this calls for the M-L scalpel to cut away appearances and expose the underlying forces at play. And if you're a movie buff, you may prefer the imagery of a gullible Kansas girl pulling back the curtain to reveal the manipulative Wizard of Oz (with lyrics by the blacklisted Red, Yip Harburg). However you take your dose of political skepticism, there's always more to the story than meets the eye.

The saga of Governor B continues to unfold with more and more interesting wrinkles. Wednesday's Wall Street Journal screams in headlines of a possible link between Governor B and Jesse Jackson, Jr. In lower case type, the Journal alleges a tie to The Service Employees (SEIU). The glee in which these claims are stated is barely contained. Innuendo about a connection with President elect Obama drips from the columns. Clearly, a political campaign is emerging, directed by the Bush appointed US attorney general, Patrick Fitzgerald. Fitzgerald was, of course, the special prosecutor charged to investigate and prosecute in the infamous "Plame" affair involving the outing of a CIA agent deemed hostile to the Bush administration. After five years of slow-moving, cautious, and enormously costly investigation, Fitzgerald convicted a Cheney aide, "Scooter" Libby and closed the case despite strong public evidence of Rove and Cheney involvement. No journalistic hatchet men were charged and Libby walked after a Bush pardon with a laughable fine and probation.

Compare this with the early morning raid and Governor's B's perp walk in handcuffs: No grand jury, no judicial process, no caution, just a dramatic arrest guaranteed to draw media fervor (and take attention away from the Governor's prior act of solidarity with Republic workers). Clearly, Fitzgerald has more enthusiasm for this case than he showed in the Plame matter.

Buried in the Wednesday Journal article is the revelation that many defense attorneys who read the 76 page FBI document "noted many of Gov. Blagojevich's headline-grabbing conversations weren't necessarily crimes". Prominent attorney Gerald Lefcourt affirmed this, adding "Every politician keeps accounts - what is horse trading, and what is hyperbole?"

The Thursday Journal adds even more detail to what is shaping up to be even more clearly a case of politically motivated judicial head-hunting. In an article about convicted Chicago developer and fundraiser Antoin Rezko, the authors point out that Rezko had written to the judge in his case complaining that Fitzgerald was pressuring "him to tell them the 'wrong' things I supposedly know about Governor Blagojevich and Senator Obama". After more arm-twisting and a possible plea bargain, Rezko has now agreed to cooperate with Fitzgerald's office, serving as one of the principal sources supporting the charges against Governor B. Politically motivated? For sure.

Is there any doubt that "facts" will appear that will send the talk radio and cable snakes into a frenzied attack upon Obama?

The broken two-party system, where public office is essentially bought and sold, creates this cesspool of corruption, judicial manipulation, and political opportunism. To run for any office beyond dog catcher, sums of money are necessary - well beyond the resources of any but the very rich. It becomes virtually impossible to raise such sums without establishing relationships with contributors, relationships based upon favors - what has come to be called "pay for play". It is naive to think that this behavior is an aberration. At best, politicians are either shrewd, by distancing themselves from any incriminating transactions, or less reckless than others.

In this context, nearly all financial exposure is foolhardy or politically motivated. And in the case of Governor B, likely both are true. The financial difficulties of fighting the Feds through nearly all of his tenure as well as Fitzgerald's hit-man mission left him vulnerable to the charges that are emerging. The timing of the arrest may well have been made to overshadow the Republic factory occupation, but the ultimate goal is to embarrass and tarnish the Obama administration. But, then, that's bourgeois politics.

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