Saturday, November 1, 2008

CAM-PAINS: Corrupt Dem politico replaced this week by bipartisan politico

Tuesday of this week was supposed to be the point in which Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama took one final “hit” from Antoin Rezko.

Rezko is the one-time fundraiser who federal prosecutors say improperly used his contacts with political officials, and a jury agreed. Until he started cooperating with federal officials (creating the possibility he may testify against other officials, including Gov. Rod Blagojevich), he was scheduled to be sentenced this week.

TUESDAY, TO BE exact. Or, exactly one week before Election Day, which would mean the nation would get a fresh dose of being reminded about how Rezko helped Obama get a slightly larger plot of land as part of his Hyde Park neighborhood home.

Now to the dismay of Obama critics, the presidential candidate’s activity never became a focus in Rezko’s trial during the summer months in U.S. District Court. The Illinois governor’s name came up much more prominently, and he’s the one who has to worry about his reputation being tainted with Rezko muck.

Which is why I find it ironic that we DID get some activity from federal prosecutors this week that related to government corruption. Only instead of being a Rezko prison term, it was an indictment for Bill Cellini.

I know, I know. Those of you with real lives who don’t pay attention to government minutia are saying, “Who’s he?” Cellini is quite possibly the most important person whom the general public knows nothing about.

AND THAT WAS always deliberate on the part of the Springfield businessman whose political connections go back four decades. That’s just it. The man who supposedly is involved in government corruption was not an elected official.

If anything, Cellini was the guy whose influence was so strong that he could get political people to do what he wanted, even if it went against their best interests. That’s true clout. Rezko was a guy who got political attention because of his fund-raising abilities.

I’m curious to see how much a Cellini corruption trial taints political reputations. Of course, the people who were most willing to try to use Rezko for partisan purposes will tone down their rhetoric – after all, Cellini was a Republican, even though he was bipartisan enough to be able to work with Blagojevich. Both parties will be hurt by a Cellini trial, even if he’s ultimately acquitted.

So what other observations are possible as we move into the final weekend prior to Election Day?

CAPACITY CROWDS?: All the e-mail interest tied to getting tickets to Grant Park for Election Night (so they could say they were with Barack when he learned whether or not he became president) brought out one fact.

Only about 65,000 people (including 5 who will be chosen randomly in an e-mail lottery, as though an Obama appearance is a game show prize) are going to be able to fit into the official area where the rally will be held. Yet Chicago city officials continue to insist that as many as 1 million people (such an even, and impressive, number) will be on hand.

Municipal officials have even gone so far as to let downtown businesses know it would do the city a big favor if they would let people out of work early on Tuesday – a fact that the Chicago Tribune notes has many business officials upset.

How much of a mess will Chicago be come Tuesday and early Wednesday if hundreds of thousands of people cram their way into downtown without tickets? Probably no more than the mayhem that occurs every year on July 3 when the city has its official Independence Day fireworks display. If the city can handle those crowds, they can probably cope with the Obamamania display that will take place next week.

WE DON’T CARE: There is a place where people have little opinion between Obama and Republican John McCain – mainland China.

The Gallup Organization came out with a survey earlier this week that showed 12 percent of Chinese people who were questioned prefer Obama, compared to 5 percent for McCain. The rest of them “don’t know.”

Their poll found that in China’s three largest cities (Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou), Obama supporters outnumber McCain backers by a 3-1 ratio. But nearly half of those people (46 percent) don’t care.

So what does it say about all the campaign rhetoric implying that Obama is a socialist (if not an outright Communist) that in the land where being a socialist is a positive that a majority of the public could care less about our Election Day?

NO WONDER HE KEPT HIS MOUTH SHUT: Rep. Rahm Emanuel, D-Ill., the one-time Clinton administration aide who was put in a tight political spot when both Hillary R. Clinton and Obama ran competitively against each other in the Democratic primary this year, seems to be getting his reward for not taking sides.

Emanuel became the butt of political jokes about his absolute refusal to come out in favor either of Hillary or Barack until after the primary ended. But now, various reports indicate Emanuel is a favorite to become White House chief of staff, should this country manage to get a “President Obama” in Tuesday’s elections.

So the one-time “Rahm-bo” who is credited with orchestrating the effort two years ago that shifted control of Congress to Democrats could wind up being the politico who does the dirty work of running the federal government in ways that make the grand pronouncements of a President Obama come true.


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