Obama's 4:30 p.m., December 23rd Blago News Drop
12:40 PM, Dec 23, 2008 • By MARY KATHARINE HAM
The time and date dictated by Patrick Fitzgerald for releasing Team Obama's internal investigation just happen to fall at the most convenient time of the year for burying bad news. Does that mean there necessarily is bad news? Biden told reporters this morning it will confirm Obama's assertions that there were no inappropriate contacts with Blago's team.
Obama is not expected to address the report, and he's unlikely to be asked about it, as he will be attending a memorial service for his grandmother in Hawaii. That would make questions about his involvement with Blago, at the very least, socially awkward. The prickly pres-elect would likely shame whoever tried.
The whole scenario comes off a little shady, so why release the report this way if there's nothing untoward in it? It will necessarily get less coverage than it would otherwise get, but most of that coverage will question the Obama transition's handling of the report and rehash Obama's bumpy response to the breaking of the scandal, in addition to examining the actual contents of the report.
Neither the national press nor the American people are much in the mood to find out that their new, fresh pres-elect was involved in any of this (and most evidence suggests he wasn't, directly), so a fairly clean report would have been greeted with a fairly generous reception, no matter the timing of its release. Releasing it in this fashion casts doubt on the conclusions of the report, Team Obama's competence, and his reputation as a transparent reformer. Why do that instead of letting Obama spend a couple minutes with the press corps last week, charming them into friendly write-ups about the report? (Yes, I know Fitzgerald's investigation required that he keep somewhat mum on details, but he could have been much more helpful to the press than he was.)
Of course, Obama's been so testy with the press since this story broke- indeed, since he was elected- maybe he's just counting on his good reputation to carry him through this without having to interrupt his vacation listening to the pesky press corps. With Christmas allowing everyone to check out of the controversy for a week, it may work.
He's never been accused of underestimating his own charm and abilities, but approaching a fight with the hubris of Apollo Creed can be a risky tactic, no matter how sparkly your top hat is. That seems to be the tack he's taking on the Blago scandal, and forecasts an approach to difficult future situations for which the press is already panning him.