Sunday, December 14, 2008

Obama and Emmanuel: What Did You Know and When Did You Know It?

For some, discussions about Rahm Emmanuel -- President Elect Obama's choice for White House Chief of Staff -- resigning seems a tad premature. I'm surprised it hasn't already happened.

Rahm Emmanuel, who is one of the most fierce partisans in American politics today has long been a lightning rod of controversy. When word broke of the political scandals that have rocked Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich, Obama was quick to declare that he and his team had nothing to do with any of the alleged criminal activities being raised. It was similar to walking into a kitchen and the cookie jar being broke on the floor and some declaring "I didn't do it." Those quick to declare their innocence without questioning are the ones I find suspect most. The biggest concern was the apparent effort by the Governor to sale Barack Obama's Senate seat.

At first, most in the media seemed willing to take Obama at face value. Closer scrutiny from FBI investigators and the media indicate that some in Blagojevich's office had in fact been visiting with Obama's people, or at least a person. The person in question was Emmanuel, who was captured on tape discussing the replacement with the Governor's staff after Obama decalred no such discussions took place with his people. When questioned about his involvement, Emmanuel did nothing to help his cause by stating to reporters "I'm not going to say a word to you," ... "I'm going to do this with my children (go to a school play). Don't do that. I'm a father. I have two kids. I'm not going to do it" I understand the sentiment. Every father wants to protect his children. But the lack of denial of involvement is being interpreted in the worse possible way.

What makes matters worse, in my opinion, is that ABC is reporting that "it is unknown who on the Obama transition team had communicated to the governor's office that they wouldn’t engage in any 'pay to play' scheme to pick the Senate replacement." Why does this make matters worse? No where has it been reported that the Obama campaign exposed the Governor's actions to authorities. For not taking the knowledge of such to authorities could be interpreted as "aiding and abetting" a crime. It goes back to the question that besieged those stuck in the Watergate scandal: "What did you know and when did you know it?" The last thing a President who has marketed himself as an agent of change, but has cut his teeth in the most politically corrupt city in the country, wants is this type of cloud to follow him to his inauguration.

I am almost certain that the series of events that have happen will lead to a resignation and maybe more (even criminal charges) in the Obama team. But will they choose a low or mid level staffer as a scapegoat? If Emmanuel was forced to go it would send a message that Obama is serious about providing a truly different Administration.

Kevin Price is a syndicated columnist whose articles frequently appear at ChicagoSunTimes.com, Reuters.com, USAToday.com, and other national media. Kevin Price is Host of the Price of Business (M-F at 11 AM on CNN 650) and Publisher of the Houston Business Review. Hear the show live and online at PriceofBusiness.com. Visit the archive of past shows here.

Labels: , , , , ,


Post a Comment

<< Home