Two Illinois poliblog institutions, The Capitol Fax Blog (by political journalist Rich Miller) and ArchPundit (by political blogger Larry Handlin), are producing primers for the American people and the self-proclaimed media of record (not that the "national" media feels a need to be bothered with actual details when there's a good soap opera to splash some ink on).
For those interested in learning just what Sen. Barack Obama's not-very-much-of-a-relationship with Chicago developer Tony Rezko is, read up...
CapFax's In defense of the locals reviews the Illinois political media's coverage of Sen. Obama and attempts by the Tribune, Sun-Times, etc. to find skeletons in his closet over the years. Of note: the Chicago Tribune discovered two instances of what might be of interest to those hoping to turn Tony Rezko into Obama's Marc Rich or Norman Hsu.
First, the Trib uncovered the property purchase in which the Obama family bought a home and Mr. Rezko's wife bought an adjoining piece of property from the same seller on the same day. Sen. Obama has apologized for this event and acknowledged how, from the outside looking in, it appears unseemly even though everything was done legally and legitimately.
Second, the Trib also found that Sen. Obama's staff gave an internship to a kid whose father was connected to Rezko and who had donated money to Obama's previous campaigns. Ummm... ok.
Mr. Miller also writes that the Trib explained the research they did to investigate the connections between the law firm Sen. Obama used to work for and Rezko. Would that more media would bother to actually "work" a story as the Chicago papers have with regards to any sort of ties between Obama and Rezko (and most, if not all, of those ties seem to be perfectly legit based on that rather exhaustive research).
In his post, Mr. Miller also notes that an oppo-research consultant from one of Sen. Obama's US Senate primary opponents, Mike Henry, was hired by the Clinton campaign and that since his hiring Clinton's attacks have mirrored the earlier attacks from that 2004 primary opponent. Go figure.
UPDATE: Rich Miller has posted a follow-up today in "Present votes and Rezko".
ArchPundit also currently has a series of
five eight "Rezko primers" up on his blog ( don't know if he'll add more so check his site for the latest UPDATE: Arch did add a few more and has a summary/linky post on all eight in "The Rezko Primer"). His posts' titles are rather self-explanatory:
- Rezko Primer I: Job Offer and Friendship Begins
- Rezko Primer II: Political Donations
- Rezko Primer III. Legal work on projects Rezko was involved
- Rezko Primer IV. Letters of Support for projects Rezko was involved
- Rezko Primer V. Intern-son of Rezko ally/Obama donor
- New: VI. House Purchase
- New: VII. Land Strip Purchase from Rezko
- New: VIII. Landscaping and Property Maintenance Arrangement
Don't get me wrong. Rezko is going to court after having been accused of some pretty serious white collar crimes. If convicted he ought to pay his debt to society.
But guilt by association witch hunts are damn weak -- just ask the Clintons their thoughts on Kenneth Starr and his investigation of the, ahem, Whitewater Land Deal... -- even if the national media is willing to lazily regurgitate an opponent's spin on their front pages and TV news crawlers.
If some sort of quid pro quo had ever surfaced there'd be something to talk about but as it stands there's really no there "there" between Rezko and Obama. No one has ever found any instance of Obama doing anything as a legislator that would have illegally (or even unethically) benefited Rezko. (That said, journalist Miller correctly notes that something about Obama may yet surface during Rezko's trial but given the boxes of files the Illinois media has analyzed it seems unlikely.)
(c/p Illinois Reason)
UPDATE 2: DKos diarist and Obama biograper John K Wilson has written "The Real Story of Rezko and Obama: 10 Myths Debunked"... (He even clarifies the debunked attacks surrounding the "house deal" noting that Obama's bid for his home was the higher of two bids, even though his winning bid was below the seller's asking price. Usually, that's called a good deal.)