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Par for the Course

President-elect Obama’s uninformative response yesterday (“I had no contact with the governor or his office and so we were not, I was not aware of what was happening.”) when pressed on Blago-gate isn’t getting good reviews. Jake Tapper is parsing it and listing the unanswered questions. He concludes that more needs to be disclosed:

And that would mean that in order to truly be transparent, the American people need to find out as much as possible, as soon as possible, about what role anyone Team Obama played in any of the various shenanigans Gov. Blagojevich is accused of committing — or any others we don’t yet know about.

And John Dickerson at Slate isn’t pleased either:

So we’re left with vagueness. Why does it matter? It always matters when a politician won’t say the simple thing. Maybe it matters a little more with Obama, who can answer the dickens out of a question when he wants to. There’s evidence that Obama wanted Valerie Jarrett to take his seat—the governor sure seemed to think the president-elect wanted that. Suddenly, in the middle of the process, Obama stopped wanting that. Why?

The most intriguing part of Obama’s answer was the adjustment at the end from “we were not” to “I was not” –as if he wasn’t quite sure whether all those encompassed by “we” really were in the dark.

This, plus the failure to call for Blagojevich to resign, should come as no surprise. Obama isn’t know for his sharp and decisive handling of inner circle issues. Remember the atrocious initial response to the James Johnson controversy during the campaign? Recall the slow motion toss of Reverend Wright under the proverbial bus? And Jim Geraghty reminds us of the less than candid handling of the flap over Austen Goolsbee’s conversations with Canadian officials. Quite aside from personnel, Obama doesn’t leap into the breach on policy crises either. ( How long did he take to formulate a position on AIG? On the invasion of Georgia?) And of course, even when entirely appropriate, he’s not one to show indignation or anger (which disturbed critics of his performance yesterday) because he prefers to operate above the fray. His temperament is so superb, you see.

We’ll see if the President-elect regroups and comes out with a clearer explanation of what everyone knew and when. Time will tell whether he can muster up some anger and a call for Blagojevich to resign. If he doesn’t, he’s likely to upset his most loyal supporters — the MSM.



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