An internal report from Barack Obama’s presidential transition team found that there was no impropriety in his or his staff’s dealings with Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, said The Washington Post in an editorial. That conclusion “will no doubt be treated with some skepticism,” but there’s no indication that Obama’s inquiry missed or withheld any facts. After all the “hyperventilating” leading up to the report, it looks like “Obama and his team can put this distraction behind them.”
Not so fast, said Joe Gandelman in The Moderate Voice. This “story will continue to have legs,” if for no other reason than that the report was released right before Christmas, at 4:30 p.m., while Obama is in Hawaii and his chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel—a focus of the report—is off “on a ‘long-planned’ family trip—to Africa.” That’s how you bury bad news, not issue a clean bill of health.
Obama wouldn’t be so “foolish” as to lie about his staff’s involvement with Blagojevich, said USA Today in an editorial, when the FBI has hours of Blagojevich’s wiretapped conversations on tape. But if Obama is really wise, this near-brush with scandal will teach him how to handle “other sticky situations that will inevitably arise once he’s in the White House”—tell everything yourself, and tell it early.
When there’s a real Obama scandal brewing, “I’ll be happy to help stir it up,” said Dan Riehl in Reihl World View. But this Blagojevich blowup is an “unwarranted” distraction. Whether of not you like Obama, in these “far from ideal times” it’s “in the best interest of our country” to help him start off without “an unnecessary cloud” hanging over his head.