Patterico's Pontifications

12/10/2008

Jim Lindgren Looks at What Obama Knew

Filed under: Obama,Politics — DRJ @ 10:34 am

[Guest post by DRJ]

Jim Lindgren at Volokh uses the Blagojevich indictment to analyze the timeline regarding what Obama knew and when he knew it. It’s important to read the whole post but I want to address this portion:

“12. On Tuesday, Dec. 8, Obama denies personal knowledge of the corrupt proposal.

“I had no contact with the governor or his office and so we were not, I was not aware of what was happening.”

As I’ve said before, as with Bill Clinton, Barack Obama’s words should be read carefully to see what he is saying and not saying. Apparently, Obama started to say that “we were not” “aware of what was happening,” but corrected himself by saying that “I was not aware of what was happening.”

That language leaves open the possibility that his staff was aware, but he personally was not. But why would Obama’s staff withhold information from him? I assume that Obama is telling the truth about not having spoken to the governor himself, since that might be easily refuted.”

From the first time I heard it, Obama’s statement that “we were not … I was not aware” struck me as legal-speak where, as Lindgren suggests, Obama denied knowledge on his part but left open the possibility that his staff knew. Clinton did it and we called it parsing. Obama does it and we call it nuance. Most lawyers do it because we are comfortable talking with the precision and jargon we’ve been taught to use. Doctors, police officers, engineers, teachers, and most professions also have a specific style and jargon. The problem here is that Obama’s current role is President, not lawyer, and lawyer-speak as President doesn’t work.

My guess is that Obama knew his staff was aware of Blagojevich’s shady dealings but since his knowledge was inconclusive or based on hearsay from his staff, he said he wasn’t “aware” of wrongdoing to a legal standard. Of course, it’s also possible that Obama was simply being evasive and this is part of his emerging pattern because he doesn’t want to admit his knowledge of or participation in shady politics.

Either way, Lindgren is right when he warns Obama it’s not the crime, it’s the cover-up.

– DRJ

50 Responses to “Jim Lindgren Looks at What Obama Knew”

  1. Instapundit has a link to a story dated November 5 from a Chicago TV station about Obama and Blagojevich meeting later that day to discuss filling his Senate seat:

    Ill. governor meeting with Obama today

    By Carol Sowers

    Wednesday, November 05, 2008 at 10:39 a.m.

    CHICAGO, ILL. — Now that Barack Obama will be moving to the White House, his seat in the U.S. Senate representing Illinois will have to be filled.

    That’s one of Obama’s first priorities today.
    He’s meeting with Governor Rod Blagojevich this afternoon in Chicago to discuss it.

    Illinois law states that the governor chooses that replacement.

    There’s already been speculation about his selection…from Congressman Jesse Jackson, Jr. of Chicago’s south side who co-chaired Obama’s presidential campaign, to recently-retired state senate president Emil Jones, to the governor himself.

    It’s likely the governor will make his decision quickly so the new senator will get some seniority before newly-elected senators take office in January.

    Part of the timing depends on when Obama officially vacates his senate seat.

    KHQA’s Alexis Hunt is speaking with Illinois Senator John Sullivan today about his thoughts on that replacement process, his time working with Obama in the state senate, and if there’s a chance Sullivan might play a role in the Obama administration. Watch KHQA News at 5:00, 6:00 and 10:00 p.m. tonight to hear what he has to say.

    http://www.connecttristates.com/news/news_story.aspx?id=217582

    ROA (26e42c)

  2. The real question is what did Obama know, and when did he stop knowing it?

    Official Internet Data Office (9adeb5)

  3. OIDO, there is not a snow ball chance in hell Obama goes down for any of th scummy people and deals he works with.

    This dude has been in a political sewar for years and the media stills claims his shoes are pristine.

    Da'Shiznit (089453)

  4. That’s a fair assumption to make – if the MSM had any interest in the unreal corruption from whence Obama sprang, they never pursued it when they had the ample opportunity to do so. However, as the details of this indictment begin to be disseminated and Blago is leaned on to start spilling the beans, it’s hard to believe that Obama’s wings won’t get at least a bit singed in the process.

    Also remember, Rezko’s plea deal has yet to be finalized. Those details are still under wraps, but we’ll be hearing about his dealings in fuller detail shortly.

    Dmac (e30284)

  5. Amphipolis,

    The timeline states the allegations in the indictment show the wiretap caught Blagojevich in a November 10 telephone conference with his staff talking about his plan to sell the Senate seat, but for now there’s no evidence the November 5 meeting was anything other than a general discussion about who would be the best person to fill the seat. In other words, while Obama almost surely expressed his preference on November 5 for Valerie Jarrett there’s no indication Blagojevich tendered a quid pro quo at that point. [EDIT: If it even happened. See this Hot Air post.]

    I agree with Fitzgerald’s position at his press conference yesterday: I’m not saying Obama knew nothing but for now we can’t say what Obama knew. And absent a transcript/tape of the November 5 meeting, I don’t think the fact that they met proves Obama knew what Blagojevich had in mind or that they discussed anything illegal.

    DRJ (b4db3a)

  6. DaShiz: If people were licking your shoes like they’ve been licking his, your shoes would be clean too.

    Gesundheit (47b0b8)

  7. Obama knows all of these people.
    Obama knows Blogojevich. Blogojevich knows Obama.
    Obama has worked politically with Blagojevich, they both were close to Rezko.
    Emmanuel has worked closely with Obama and Blogojevich.
    Valerie Jarrett is the other half of Obama.
    Andy Stern is a big fundraiser for both of them.

    Did someone act uncharacteristically this time around?

    MayBee (4a9480)

  8. Greetings:

    Quote: “I had no contact with the governor or his office and so we were not, I was not aware of what was happening.”

    I see two problems with President-elect Obama’s statement. The first part (“I had no…”) is, in logic, a disjunction, so if either assertion is true, then the statment is true. So, if the office was not contacted but the governor was, the statement would be accurate, but extremely “nuanced.”

    The second problem is the punctuation. Verbal statements are usually punctuated by the recorder, not the speaker. This statement could be given a somewhat different interpretation if the speaker claims there should have been a period after “office”.

    11B40 (58657e)

  9. As a former Illinois resident for over 24 years, I well know it’s a given that no politician in the shadow of the Chicago machine will advance without the tacit approval and blessing of Mayor Daley and his crowd.

    Consider that Barack Obama moved in a relatively few years from community organizer to state senator to U.S. senator and now president-elect; without the support of powerful individuals such as Blagojevich he would still be at the “organizer” level.

    In the days to come there will be many more questions about the chronic corruption in Illinois politics. I suspect there will be few answers. Where Obama fits into the picture is anybody’s guess.

    navyvet (4c272e)

  10. This pattern of Obama’s of not knowing the crap that goes on right under his nose is becoming a joke. So he’s a member of Rev. Wright’s church for 20 years but never hears him “God Damn America”? Or he sits on various boards with Bill Ayers but doesn’t know he used to be a domestic terrorist blowing up landmarks in Wash. D.C.? Or that slum-lord Rezko is up to his eyeballs in corruption as he’s accepting sweet real estate deals and campaign contributions? If his instincts are really this bad, we can only hope that his staff is not only on the ball, but above reproach. I’m not holding my breath.

    jwarner (0a2a75)

  11. While Obama and his staff were unaware of anything, according to the complaint, Gov. Blagojevich was aware by November 11 that he would get nothing but appreciation from Obama. So how did Gov. Blagojevich know he got nothing for appointing Obama’s choice when Obama and staff had not talked to him?

    From Volokh:

    4. Moreover, by the next day, Tuesday, Nov. 11, Blagojevich already had received his answer from the Obama camp that no quid pro quo would be forthcoming: “ROD BLAGOJEVICH said he knows that the President-elect wants Senate Candidate 1 for the Senate seat but ‘they’re not willing to give me anything except appreciation. F**k them.’”

    Loren (af2946)

  12. I like his correction. How can he make a statement about what his staff may or may not have known. I think it would be premature to make such a bold statement as “my staff was not aware…” before knowing the facts. That sounds like something Bush would say up front, then force his staff to lie about later. As of the last counts I have heard, around 77% of the current population does not want a president like Bush. Kudos to Obama.

    truthnjustice (c313be)

  13. Obama seems to be a man who will lie when the truth would serve as well. If he had said, “we discussed the Senate seat but made no agreement and did not favor one candidate over another,” he would be in the clear. This is not a good omen.

    It may be ego. He may be unable to admit any slight flaw in himself, even if there is nothing illegal involved. This will not serve him well when he gets into real trouble.

    Mike K (531ff4)

  14. Ill. governor meeting with Obama today
    By Carol Sowers
    Wednesday, November 05, 2008 at 10:39 a.m.

    If they met on this date, what did they discuss?

    Comment by liesntyranny — 12/10/2008 @ 1:17 pm
    …and of course, it’s all Bush’s fault.

    Threadjacking, as usual.

    Another Drew (4fff38)

  15. In an interview with the LA Times yesterday, though, Baracky was back to parsing between what he knew and refusing to comment on what his staff may have known:

    An edited transcript of a Tuesday interview in Chicago between President-elect Barack Obama and Peter Nicholas and Christi Parsons of our Washington bureau and reporter John McCormick of the Tribune.

    Q: Have you ever spoken to [Illinois] Gov. [Rod R.] Blagojevich (photo left) about the Senate seat?

    O: I have not discussed the Senate seat with the governor at any time. My strong belief is that it needed to be filled by somebody who is going to represent the people of Illinois and fight for them. And beyond that, I was focused on the transition.

    Q: And that was before and after the election?

    O: Yes.

    Q: Are you aware of any conversations between Blagojevich or [chief of staff] John Harris and any of your top aides, including Rahm [Emanuel]?

    O: Let me stop you there because . . . it’s an ongoing….

    …investigation. I think it would be inappropriate for me to, you know, remark on the situation beyond the facts that I know. And that’s the fact that I didn’t discuss this issue with the governor at all.

    Q: Could you talk to the point of whether an appointment by Gov. Blagojevich would taint whoever your successor would be, given what we know?

    O: I think what the people of Illinois deserve is somebody they can trust, somebody that’s going to fight for them and, you know, I think we’ve got to make sure that whatever process emerges gives them that assurance. I haven’t examined all the options that are out there at this point.

    daleyrocks (5d22c0)

  16. “As of the last counts I have heard, around 77% of the current population does not want a president like Bush.”
    Again, what the hell does an idiotic remark like this mean? “The current population?” I mean could you try anymore desperately to try to dress up your meaningless opinions in a shroud of pseudo-intellectual posturing? As opposed to whom? The previous population? And what was this survey that asked this question, “Do you or do you not want a president like Bush?” “The last counts?” This is a joke, right?
    You pull these fake statistics out of your derriere that you supposedly “heard about”, you never back anything up, and then you claim people need “help with the big words” to read your lame links to leftist blogs. The fact that you smugly claim even one scintilla of intellectual or logical high ground over anyone here is beyond laughable.

    Jack Klompus (cf3660)

  17. Talk about nuanced lawyer-speak, catch this Q&A from Obama’s Chicago Trib interview:

    Q: Are you aware of any conversations between Blagojevich or [his Chief of Staff] John Harris and any of your top aides, including Rahm [Emanuel]?

    “John, let me stop you there because, as I said it out there, it’s an ongoing investigation. I think it would be inappropriate for me to, you know, remark on the situation beyond the facts that I know. And that’s the fact that I didn’t discuss this issue with the governor at all.”

    Note that he was asked for facts that he knows (“are you aware?”) and he simply doesn’t answer the question, giving an incoherent response before simply repeating that he didn’t discuss the issue with the Gov.

    Mike H (dda662)

  18. “…My strong belief is that it needed to be filled by somebody who is going to represent the people of Illinois and fight for them…”

    And, he believes we need to take it on faith that he never communicated these beliefs to the Governor, who would be filling this position?

    This man is a world-class LIAR!

    RMN could have taken lessons from this …!

    Another Drew (4fff38)

  19. …and another thing.
    I’ll just bet that Bubba is sitting back in some nice comfy chair just laughing his ass off over this.
    1, because it’s not happening to him.
    2, out of admiration for someone who can dissemble as well as Bubba does himself.

    Another Drew (4fff38)

  20. As of the last counts I have heard, around 77% of the current population does not want a president like Bush. Kudos to Obama.

    Yeah — instead of an honorable man hated by the press and attacked by an endless series of lies, we’ve got a corrupt slimeball so loved by the press they’ll run cover for him.

    Rob Crawford (04f50f)

  21. Just imagine, if it’s even possible, that John Mccain had won and the governor had clearly negotiated with his transition team for payola in exchange for Mccain’s pick to replace him in that Senate seat.

    And Mccain refuses to answer questions about it in anything but a plainly dishonest way ‘We… er uh, I anyway… didn’t meet with him!’

    And Mccain employs Axelrod, who wrote an editorial talking about how this kind of payola scam is 100% ok and Fitzgerald is a horrible USA for fighting it.

    How would the media be treating this? How would our left leaning commenters feel about it?

    This is pure and naked corruption, and it’s obvious that Obama was aware of it before it was brought out in public light (his staff obviously were asked for payola… the governor wasn’t asking nobody for millions). Obama did not bring this to the authorities, or we’d already know it. Therefore, Obama at best covered this up to protect Democrats.

    Juan (4cdfb7)

  22. Get used to the ‘But Bush polled worse!’ argument.

    Every time Obama does something absolutely horrible, his poll number will be compared with Bush’s to ‘prove’ that Obama is better than Bush. too bad those polls are BS, and Bush won reelection despite Kerry polling better.

    Obama will have to succeed. He’s already disappointed everyone but die hard Bush supporters (because so far he’s a clone of Bush). He promised the world to the left, but we will still be in Iraq in 2012, the economy will be worse, and sadly, I fear that Obama will be laughed at by our enemies.

    Can the Republicans offer something much better? I have no idea, but Obama being compared to Bush’s poll numbers is an obvious admission that Obama isn’t inherently good enough on his own.

    Juan (4cdfb7)

  23. It’s completely possible Valerie Jarrett pulled her name because she and Obama realized how ridiculous it would be for her to get the seat.
    It would have been like Bush getting Rove a Senate appointment.

    The timing could come about because it was a trial balloon that went thud.

    MayBee (4a9480)

  24. I’m more concerned that Susan Rice will have UN control – - and that her spot will be elevated to a Cabinet post. This B-Rod story is just straight Barry for the next four years.

    Vermont Neighbor (de46bd)

  25. truthnjustice shows just how dishonest the Obama defenders are.

    They know just how crooked a President they elected but they’ll lie to you, me and themselves to avoid confronting it.

    SPQR (72771e)

  26. Huh…seems to me that Obama can’t really speak definitively for everyone on his entire staff now, can he? Surely he doesn’t know what everyone on his staff has ever communicated about with another. But he can speak definitively for himself – if only for himself. What’s wrong with him doing just that?

    Tom (79a87e)

  27. ^ Tom, his answer was evasive and not in control of his team or its actions. Or, as Juan said:

    Just imagine, if it’s even possible, that John Mccain had won and the governor had clearly negotiated with his transition team for payola in exchange for Mccain’s pick to replace him in that Senate seat.

    And Mccain refuses to answer questions about it in anything but a plainly dishonest way ‘We… er uh, I anyway… didn’t meet with him!’

    And Mccain employs Axelrod, who wrote an editorial talking about how this kind of payola scam is 100% ok and Fitzgerald is a horrible USA for fighting it.

    Vermont Neighbor (de46bd)

  28. Tom, I guess you don’t care whether or not Obama takes responsibility for his staff, and you don’t care if he hides behind them in crooked deals.

    Amusing given the way President Bush has been treated.

    SPQR (72771e)

  29. “What’s wrong with him doing just that?”

    Tom – What is wrong with Baracky answering a direct question such as the one he was asked, which is basically to your knowledge, has anyone on your staff met with the governornor or his staff to discuss the senate vacancy. It’s an easy question for somebody with nothing to hide.

    daleyrocks (5d22c0)

  30. “truthnjustice shows just how dishonest the Obama defenders are.”

    deflect, deflect, deflect!!!!!!!

    never engage, pivot and attack!!!!!

    tnj shows just what a dishonest, ignerent turd fondler he proudly plays on the intarwebs.

    daleyrocks (5d22c0)

  31. Tom,

    Obama will never know everything that someone does on his behalf, whether it’s in his campaign, the transition period, or his Administration … but he still has to answer questions about his statements and actions and those made on his behalf.

    DRJ (b4db3a)

  32. but he still has to answer questions about his statements and actions and those made on his behalf.

    DRJ, you and I and most everyone would think so. But for Obama this might be above his pay grade.

    Vermont Neighbor (de46bd)

  33. Actually, I’m thinking of the opposite scenario: just imagine if Barack Obama had stated unequivocally, “We were not aware of what was happening” and months from now, some flunky is revealed to have been approached by one of Blagojevich’s goons. Then, everybody who’s here complaining now would be screaming: Liar! Cover-up! And he actually would be in the wrong in that instance – unlike this one.

    DRJ,

    Obama will never know everything that someone does on his behalf, whether it’s in his campaign, the transition period, or his Administration … but he still has to answer questions about his statements and actions and those made on his behalf.

    Of course he does. But I doubt that even Obama’s internal efficiency is sufficient to have been able to personally guarantee absolute airtightness on this issue a mere 24 hours later.

    I would, for the record, like him to clarify that he has vetted his staff, and responsibly claim that none of them have been approached by Blagojevich. But ultimately, this is a non-issue – the fact that the Guv actually believed he had a shot in Obama’s cabinet is indicative of how crazy and narcissistic Blago is. Even corrupt people usually aren’t outright stupid.

    Tom (79a87e)

  34. just imagine if Barack Obama had stated unequivocally, “We were not aware of what was happening” and months from now, some flunky is revealed to have been approached by one of Blagojevich’s goons.

    But Stern is already on tape, working on behalf of Jarrett. Of course he can’t say no one in his circle knew what was going on.

    MayBee (4a9480)

  35. It has been reported in the media that BHO and Hot-Rod met on Wed., 11/5/08.
    What did they discuss?
    That is the question before the court of public opinion.

    Another Drew (4fff38)

  36. - the fact that the Guv actually believed he had a shot in Obama’s cabinet is indicative of how crazy and narcissistic Blago is.

    You kidding? The Chicago machine put Obama on the fast track. They all think they’re above the rules, certainly Barack Obama himself. Sorry, if Blag expected cabinet he over anyone probably deserved something. The whole bunch is tough, ruthless, corrupt, cutthroat. Not at all ethical, even by political standards.

    Vermont Neighbor (de46bd)

  37. Tmj is dishonest.

    Obama caught himself about to being untrue yesterday.

    Ayers on Hardball was a prick.

    Olberdoucheman thinks that Baracky’s approval numbers will keep this scandal from effecting Baracky, and he will make sure of it.

    JD (5f0e11)

  38. Good to see the wingtard hivemind reaching Vince Foster levels already. The next several years should provide lots of opportunities for us to point and laugh at you.

    Festivus (86f13d)

  39. Comment by Festivus — 12/10/2008 @ 5:47 pm
    JD, I think one of your old admirers is back.

    Another Drew (4fff38)

  40. Hmmmm. Festivus. Truthnjustice.

    You don’t suppose….?

    Only their IP numbers can tell for sure!

    Eric Blair (57b266)

  41. There have been so many, it is beginning to be difficult in telling them apart, or even wanting to remember.

    Another Drew (4fff38)

  42. “Of course, it’s also possible that Obama was simply being evasive and this is part of his emerging pattern because he doesn’t want to admit his knowledge of or participation in shady politics.”

    It’s shocking to me just how much Obama gets away with. You would think the long and ever growing list of Obama going back on his word would clue people in to the value of his word. Heck even Obama has belittled his own campaign statements as mere rhetoric.

    Obama fits the classic stereotype of a lying politician who will say anything to anyone to get his way. As usual the best way to predict what any politician will do (including Obama) is to pay attention to what they do instead of what they say.

    The continuing willingness of Obamaphiles to unquestioningly swallow Obama’s rhetoric doesn’t say much for the wisdom of Obamaphiles. Yet those boobs are now running the nation. Yikes.

    Brad (9bfdc3)

  43. “It depends on what the meaning of the word ['contact'] is.”…

    Obama claimed Tuesday:

    “I had no contact with the governor or his office and, so we were not – I was not aware ……

    The Volokh Conspiracy (fa8fba)

  44. DRJ: Obama was simply being evasive and this is part of his emerging pattern because he doesn’t want to admit his knowledge of or participation in shady politics.

    I’m sorry DRJ, but you’re better than this. With all due respect what a load of over-analyzed sour grapes right-wing bunk. Really, you guys could only wish that Obama is as crafty a dissembler as Bill Clinton. This is not the 90s and I don’t think the Right yet realizes this is the sort of partisan BS that did them in in 2006 and this year and will continue to do so until the discourse is raised beyond the ken of Rush, Hannity and Drudge.

    Are you aware of everything Pat knows, or WLS knows about an individual or a situation. I doubt it. And I’m sure if you were asked you also, would qualify your response in a similar manner.

    Enough said.

    Peter (e70d1c)

  45. “With all due respect what a load of over-analyzed sour grapes right-wing bunk.”

    Peter – You are the one who is full of it tonight. He completely dodged an easy direct question. There is a pattern. During the campaign Obama had to repeatedly walk back his positions on Rezko, Rev. Wright, Billy “I’m not a terrorist” Ayers, ACORN, and more. You may not want to acknowledge it, but it’s a pattern. The man is constitutionally incapable of telling the truth.

    daleyrocks (5d22c0)

  46. “Enough said.”

    More than enough.

    Icy Texan (b7d162)

  47. Anyone paying attention during the campaign could see how carefully Obama would phrase things. Plausible deniability is contained within almost every Obama promise. Slick Willie has nothing to teach Obama!

    One Obama peculiarty though, is his penchant for never admitting a mistake or admitting he has reversed his position. The excuse is it’s the mistake of an underling or a claim that it’s really not a reversal. It’s very Orwellian and probably a function of his narcissism.

    Brad (da1e65)

  48. Brad, great cartoon. ^

    Obama must be used to people bailing him out, thus the avoidance of copping to his own mistakes. Someone’s always there to provide cover, whether it’s the machine or the media itself. And B-Ho dispenses talking points, puppet-style. Such as his initial response.

    Vermont Neighbor (de46bd)


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