Obama’s Role In Blagojevich’s Fall

New York has two newspapers which desire to be national papers. One generally does an excellent job. The other, while it does do some good reporting, has its credibility hurt by repeatedly making arguments which are counter to fact in its editorial pages. We can see this in the discussion of the background to the Blagojevich case.

John Fund, in an op-ed in The Wall Street Journal, claims that Obama was mute on Illinois corruption, ignoring Obama’s role in passing ethics reform while in the state legislature. He even admits to one fact quite late in the article which contradicts what he had written above it:

To his credit, Mr. Obama did call Mr. Jones in September to urge passage of an ethics bill banning some office holders from accepting money from a business that has a $50,000 or larger contract with the state. The bill passed and takes effect on Jan. 1

The New York Times leads with the story which The Wall Street Journal buried:

In a sequence of events that neatly captures the contradictions of Barack Obama’s rise through Illinois politics, a phone call he made three months ago to urge passage of a state ethics bill indirectly contributed to the downfall of a fellow Democrat he twice supported, Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich.

Mr. Obama placed the call to his political mentor, Emil Jones Jr., president of the Illinois Senate. Mr. Jones was a critic of the legislation, which sought to curb the influence of money in politics, as was Mr. Blagojevich, who had vetoed it. But after the call from Mr. Obama, the Senate overrode the veto, prompting the governor to press state contractors for campaign contributions before the law’s restrictions could take effect on Jan. 1, prosecutors say…

Mr. Obama used leverage that he had seldom employed — publicly, anyway — and strongly urged Mr. Jones to bypass Mr. Blagojevich and approve the ethics bill, banning the so-called pay-for-play system of influence peddling in Illinois. When asked at the time how Mr. Obama had come to be involved, Mr. Jones replied, “He’s a friend.”

When the Illinois Senate passed the measure by 55 to 0 on Sept. 22, with Mr. Jones reversing his position, Mr. Obama praised the move as one creating “a tougher ethics law that will reduce the influence of money over our state’s political process.” Mr. Obama’s intervention deepened a rift between him and Mr. Blagojevich that had been growing for some time.

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