If Barack Obama decides to run for president, we're going to hear a lot more about Antoin "Tony" Rezko, the senator's neighbor.
Rezko is the kind of neighbor you want—the absent kind—and he might be absent for a long time—in the federal pen. That move upriver might keep Obama from his own residential upgrade to that big white house he's got his eye on in Washington.
OK, I'll stop. When you read the Chicago columnists having fun with the relationship between Obama and Rezko, the wiseacre rubs off on you. Here's the story, without the mustard: Barack Obama has a little real-estate scandal that raises questions about his judgment.
As the scandal stands, this is not Obama's Whitewater, the Arkansas land deal that bedeviled Bill and Hillary Clinton during the early part of President Clinton's first term. It doesn't help an inexperienced national politician to have to admit a stupid rookie mistake before the cameras, but there's nothing here so far that seems politically life threatening. Of course, if Rezko tells a different story to investigators or Obama's statements turn out to be unture, that's it for him—you can't run for president on your keen judgment and then show a lack of it by lying and covering up.
If Obama decides to run for president and fails, it will be because he'll show in other ways that he lacks experience, or he can't handle the rigors of a campaign, or because he turns out to speak only in pleasing generalities. The Rezko business is also not likely to hurt him, because his principal rival will probably be Hillary Clinton, and she's not going to bring up the topic of questionable land deals.
Saturday, December 16, 2006
"Barackwater: For now, Obama's scandal is too small to hurt"