Tuesday, December 9, 2008

The Fall of Rod

Alas, Rod Blagojevich, corrupt soon-to-be-former Governor of Illinois, we hardly knew ye. And it’s probably just as well. Let this be a lesson to us all: never elect a candidate for governor who promises tax cuts on the back of cutting waste in the public universities – such people cannot be trusted. Of course, no one predicted that Governor Blagojevich would go so far as to nakedly try to sell the Senate seat of the President-elect of the United States to the highest bidder, but the point remains.

A few observations:

You have to go back to 1994 for the last time the good people of Illinois elected a governor whose tenure did not end in an arrest for corruption (as seems likely for Rod).

To impeach Blagojevich, the Illinois House of Representatives must investigate the charges against him, then recommend an impeachment trial in the Illinois State Senate. There’s been talk of impeaching Blagojevich for some months in connection with the Tony Rezko business, but it hadn’t gone far - much of it was the usual haziness of state-level corruption changes.

To move forward with the impeachment investigation, the Speaker of the Illinois House would have to create a commitee to do so. Speaker Michael Madigan’s antipathy for Blagojevich is well known, but the matter is complicated somewhat by the fact that Speaker Madigan’s daughter, AG Lisa Madigan, appears to be Senate Candidate Number 2 referred to in the indictment.

Should the committee recommend impeachment, the trial by Senate would take place on the home turf of Emil Jones, the outgoing President of the Senate, an ally of Gov. Blagojevich’s, one-time Obama mentor, and possible Senate appointee himself. The question now, though, is whether Jones was ever in serious consideration, given that his friends may well have been priced out of the market as Blagojevich’s bag-man, Chief of Staff John Harris, tried to shake down the likes of SEIU and Warren Buffet?

So, Blagojevich’s fate now rests with legislative bodies ruled by the father of a now-tainted (and presumably perfectly innocent) Senate appointee-prospect, and an ally whose claim to the Senate is almost certainly hopeless. Resigning now might be less painful.

Final point: Ben Smith reports that this morning’s arrests may have been the result of swift action by Rahm Emmanuel, responding himself to a shakedown attempt. All right and proper on Rahm’s part, of course, but here’s a thought – having taken down Rod Blagojevich, elevated Bill Richardson to Commerce and Janet Napolitano to DHS, and considering elevating Arnold Schwarzenegger to energy czar, Jennifer Granholm to Transport, and Kathleen Sebelius to Labor or Education, Rahm and the Office of the President-elect may end up removing from power over 10% of the nation’s governors. If I were Duval Patrick, I’d sleep with one eye open.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Back from fishing...

...or rather a blissful week in Albuquerque for Thanksgiving with Frank's clan. Sorry for the silence of late: let's get stuck in with what's happened since.

On Hillary: (GULP) it's a good call. It says he thinks he can control the Clintons and that he cares less about their media distractions then he does about implementing his policy (as Nate has now also noted, strategy and tactics anyone?) but it should work out. I may have preferred Kerry (and dreamed of Zbig) but this is as good choice a choice as can be for those desirous of dealing both firmly and fairly with Israel and the Palestinians. Between Rahm Emanuel and Hillary Clinton the Administration has all the pro-Israeli creds it needs to broker a serious peace deal that trades the Palestinian right of return for Israeli settlements so as to create a practicable, territorially contiguous Palestinian state. Land for peace is the best guarantee of Israel's security and I think Secretary Clinton understands that.

On Jones: The most surprising cabinet pick by Obama thus far. Apparently, Obama only spoke with him at length twice during the campaign. As NATO commander Jones showed a preference for force in Afghanistan that I found surprising. Whether he has learned the lessons of the limited utility of force in that country particulalry is something I'm looking into. Still, if anyone can hold their own against Hillary in argument it's likely to be the man who once held the title Supreme Commander Allied Forces Europe - surely the only title in the world better then POTUS!

On Gates: as long as it's short term (no more then a year) then it's a good play. Puts a Republican face on Iraq troop drawdowns. That should make the GOP's fostering of a Dolchsto
├člegende more difficult. After a year though, I want Danzig to step up, not least because I want DoD to be a Democrat's domain.

On Obama's NSC: Including Eric Holder and Susan Rice in yesterday's roll out sent important messages in both policy and political terms: first, that obeying and implementing the law will be key to Obama's war on terror approach whilst re-engaging with the international community through the UN will be crucial to national security as a whole. Second, that Gates, Jones and Clinton will be balanced by two deeply loyalist voices for Obama himself in all NSC discussions. As such, Obama's own likely thinking will be reflected in the NSC from interesting angles: the Justice Department and the UN Ambassador. And that in a team of big, powerful personalities with likely conflicting agendas and counsels will leave Obama where he wants to be as, in the words of his predecessor, "The Decider".