[Guest post by DRJ]
The AP reports Obama Chief of Staff-designate Rahm Emanuel and Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich are so close that the only telephone calls Blagojevich regularly takes come from Emanuel. The AP also adds this juicy gossip:
“Emanuel and Obama have remained silent about what, if anything, Emanuel knew of the governor’s alleged efforts to peddle Obama’s vacant Senate seat to the highest bidder.
Emanuel did contact the governor’s office about the appointment, and left Blagojevich with the impression that he was pushing Valerie Jarrett, a close Obama friend, so he wouldn’t have to compete with her in the White House for Obama’s attention, said a source close to Blagojevich. The source requested anonymity because the person were not authorized to talk about the governor’s discussions regarding the vacancy.
It was not clear whether Blagojevich inferred Emanuel’s motive for advocating Jarrett, or whether Emanuel discussed the appointment with Blagojevich directly or with John Harris, the governor’s then-chief of staff who also is charged in the case, according to the source.”
In response, Emanuel’s defenders are using the “He’s just a guy in my neighborhood” defense — a defense made famous by Barack Obama as he described his relationship with Bill Ayers:
“Emanuel’s defenders say he is hardly an ally of Blagojevich.
“They were in different worlds personally and politically,” said Peter Giangreco, a political consultant on Blagojevich’s 1996 congressional campaign and his two gubernatorial races. “They only dealt with each other because they occupied the same political geography.”
However, the AP isn’t completely swallowing the neighborhood defense:
“But there was more to their relationship than a polite acquaintance. The two share a political past, rooted on Chicago’s North Side, and a friendly relationship — although not a close friendship — that made Emanuel the obvious choice to push Obama’s preferences to fill his vacant Senate seat, current and former Blagojevich aides said.
They at times joined forces politically, like in 2005 to promote importing prescription drugs from Canada and in 2006 to push for an increase in the state’s minimum wage. Blagojevich, his aides say, wasn’t shy about seeking the help of Emanuel, referred to in a 2006 Tribune article as his “Washington-based mentor.”
Emanuel has described himself as a one-time adviser to Blagojevich. David Wilhelm, one of Emanuel’s close friends who worked with him in the Clinton White House, informally assisted on that campaign for Blagojevich.
Emanuel, who has declined to comment since Blagojevich’s arrest, told The New Yorker magazine over the summer that he, Wilhelm and Obama met once a week during the 2002 race to plot campaign strategy for Blagojevich. Wilhelm has said Emanuel overstated the group’s role.
Also, Emanuel, Blagojevich and Obama all have hired David Axelrod, the Chicago political consultant who helped engineer Obama’s presidential victory. Axelrod helped Blagojevich in 1996 and Emanuel in 2002.”
It’s over a month away from Inauguration Day and scandal is already dogging the Obama camp. Unlike the election, maybe the media will investigate instead of run interference.