Barack Obama’s spokesman Robert Gibbs said Rod Blagojevich should resign. “The president-elect agrees with Lieutenant Governor (Pat) Quinn and many others that under the current circumstances it is difficult for the governor to effectively do his job and serve the people of Illinois,” he said.
For a master contortionist like Obama, that statement affords a world of wiggle-room. In the extremely unlikely event he’s pinned down by a reporter who wants a first-hand declaration, Obama has several commitment-free options. First, he can say, “You’ve heard Robert Gibbs on this matter and I don’ think it would be helpful to muddy up the issue at this time with further statements from me. Let’s see how the situation unfolds.” Second, he can try, “Robert Gibbs said what he believed my position to be, but ultimately I’m the only one who speaks for me and I’d caution against trying to put other’s words in my, or anyone else’s mouth. The real issue here is sadness and disappoint in government at the state level. And I don’t want to get caught up in a who-said-what kind of distraction.” Remember, during the campaign he separated himself from his advisor’s comments in order to preserve his position-free position on NAFTA. Third, he can say, “I wholeheartedly agree with Robert Gibbs that the current predicament would make it very hard for Governor Blagojevich to continue to be an effective public servant.” That’s more an assessment than a prescription, and it keeps the vagueness alive.
Obama could really defy our previous understanding of his M.O., and unequivocally state in simple terms, “I call on Governor Blagojevich to resign at this time.” If he did, it may very well constitute the first concrete position of the Obama years.