Thursday, January 31, 2008

Eric Zorn on Obama and Rezko

Defying almost all preditions by the experts, who are often wrong, the name Tony Rezko did not come up tonight's CNN debate between Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama. But the Chicago Tribune's Eric Zorn adds his thoughts on the Tony Rezko story in his Change of Subject Blog.

Zorn went through some old Trib stories, and posts excerpts from some of the more important ones. The first of which dates back nine days before his storied keynote speech at the 2004 Democratic National Convention. The affirmatative action scam Rezko was involved in, something that as far as I know has been overlooked by the national media, doesn't escape Zorn's notice.

Here's what Obama said about Rezko eight days ago:

Well, my relationship is [that Tony Rezko] was somebody who I knew and had been a supporter for many years. He was somebody who had supported a wide range of candidates all throughout Illinois. Nobody had an inkling that he was involved in any problems... CBS "Early Show" Jan. 23

Nobody had any indications that [Rezko] was engaging in wrongdoing... Barack Obama on ABC's "Good Morning America" Jan. 23

In his today's Tribune column, Zorn adds more. Who's to blame that the Rezko story is still dogging Obama 15 months after the Tribune broke the news on the 2005 property deals?

Well, it's the junior senator from Illinois.

Local news organizations began exploring all the intricacies of Obama's long-term relationship with the shady moneyman and putting to the test Obama’s early claim, "[Rezko] never asked me for anything. I’ve never done any favors for him."

Nothing significant has surfaced to contradict the essence of that claim or prove Obama acted unethically. But journalists are still looking because they're not satisfied that they have the full story.

And that's Obama's fault. At some point early in his campaign for the White House, he apparently decided he'd said all he wanted to say and all there was to say about his dealings with Rezko. He would not grant follow-up interviews on the subject to investigative reporters, and his staff provided written and often inadequate responses to written questions.


His failure to have done this for 15 months doesn’t speak to a guilty conscience so much as it speaks to dubious crisis-management skills.

And as a reward for reading this far, here is the Chicago Tribune story that started it all, Rezko owns vacant lot next to Obama's home.

When I opened the front door of my home and picked up the paper that day, I gave out a sustained, "Whoah!" I knew this would be big trouble for Obama.

Related post:

Why Rezko is an issue for Obama

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