Yesterday former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich was convicted on 17 charges involving extortion and bribery, eleven of which were connected to attempts to sell Obama’s former Senate seat. Despite early setbacks, Blagojevich’s conviction seemed almost like a foregone conclusion given the conversations detailed in the initial criminal complaint against him.
There have been so many faux-scandals since the initial complaint that your memory might be a little hazy. So allow me to remind you that when Blagojevich first faced accusations of trying to sell President Obama’s former Senate seat, speculation was rampant that allegations of corruption would marr Obama’s presidency before it even began.
For months after the initial accusations became public, media figures kept vaguely claiming that a “cloud” was now hanging over Obama, even though there was little evidence Obama or his staff had done anything wrong. When Obama said he wouldn’t comment on an “ongoing investigation,” that drew comparisons to the Valerie Plame and Jack Abramoff corruption scandals. When no gotcha moment occured, cable news pundits actually took to criticizing Obama for not being more effective in convincing reporters not to baselessly speculate that he was corrupt.
It’s not hard to understand how this happened, given how cynical American politics can get. Many reporters must have been thinking, “when was the last time a politician denied being involved in a corruption scandal and was actually telling the truth?”
It’s usually a better than even bet that they aren’t. And in the case of the Blago tale, the anticipation of a juicy corruption scandal going “all the way to the top” just didn’t pan out. It wasn’t the political press’ finest moment. No wonder we don’t really talk about it much anymore.