My friends, this is very very bad news for Obama:
On more than one occasion during his stunning press conference on Tuesday, U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald bluntly said he has found no evidence of wrongdoing by President-elect Barack Obama in the tangled, tawdry scheme that Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich allegedly cooked up to sell Obama’s now vacant Senate seat to the highest bidder. But for politicians, it’s never good news when a top-notch prosecutor has to go out of his way to distance them from a front-page scandal.
Obama is doomed. Fitzgerald’s blunt exculpatory remarks will prove a fatal blow to the now still-born Obama administration.
It’s like the reverse of Bush-induced scandal fatigue whereby an administration can commit outrageous war crimes, shred the Constitution, out covert CIA operatives as political payback, etc. to a stubbornly disinterested media (until Katrina at least), but Obama not having done anything wrong other than be a Democrat from a state in which a Democratic governor is in trouble for trying to sell a senate seat vacated by Obama is damning evidence of serious malfeasance that demands opprobrium/non-stop coverage and faux-linkage.
[UPDATE: As Larison puts it – boredom with the lack of scandals creates the opposite reaction to boredom with too many scandals:
One reason why this is happening is that a lot of journalists and pundits have become bored with the transition. It’s been going reasonably well, and it has been run so competently and with such an obvious emphasis on establishment-friendly appointments and merit (at least as merit is conventionally defined by that establishment) that most observers have been hungry for something else to talk about, and what better than a scandal involving all of the themes of the “old” politics, complete with bribery and shakedowns? You already have the makings of an overreaching and misleading narrative: “old Illinois politics mars transition period for Obama.”
On top of all of this, there is the problem that most people, especially journalists and pundits and even more particularly pundits on the right, seem to go through extreme mood swings when they talk and think about Obama. This is the tendency to swing between treating him, in John Kass’ memorable phrase, as the Mr. Tumnus of politics to regarding him as the canny Chicago pol, the Obama David Brooks referred to as “Fast Eddie,” or in other cases going between debating ridiculously whether he is more Maoist than Stalinist and then rejoicing childishly over the “centrism” of his appointments. In the mainstream media, it has gone from early adulation over the promised reform and transformation of Washington (whence the Messiah Watch) to a desire to play up conflict between Obama and the left, and now this latter theme has been partially replaced by the “Blagojevich taint” narrative.
In other news, the fact that the Democrats haven’t accused Fitzgerald of conducting a partisan witch hunt is evidence that Democrats “turn on a dime on their former heroes” for partisan reasons as they’ve done with Fitzgerald. Only they haven’t done that. But still, that only reinforces the original argument.
(first link via the Benentron 3000)