Troublesome Storylines

News pops this morning that oft-embattled Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich has been arrested under suspicion of corruption, specifically on charges that he has been seeking bribes for his job of naming the replacement U.S. Senator for President-Elect Obama, including cash offerings and well-paid spots on various boards of directors for him and his wife.

One line I have heard frequently during the campaign and since the election has been the criticism that President-Elect Obama is a member of the Chicago ‘political machine’.  Especially given the influence that other Chicago politicians, including Rahm Emanuel and Obama advisor Valerie Jarrett, will have in the administration, it makes sense as a criticism.  And I think I know fairly well what that means – dirty politics, pay-for-play, favoritism and nepotism and all sorts of other bad -isms.  The whole Tony Rezko story was part of this narrative, since he was apparently Blagojevich’s top fundraiser.

It’s probably inevitable that, in a city with a well-defined political hierarchy and superstructure, anyone who wants to play the game will have to deal with the dirty actors – they simply control too much influence, money, etc.  Now, that doesn’t mean that there has to be a clear quid pro quo, but it still leads to less-than-favorable appearances.  I don’t think that President-Elect Obama has dirt on his hands, but here’s hoping they can get extracted from messes like this without any spots showing up on their records…

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