The internal report prepared by President-elect Barack Obama’s hand-picked investigator clears both the incoming President and members of his staff of any criminal role in the mushrooming scandal surrounding embattled Illinois Gov. Rod Blogojevich.
I’ve read the report. It answers my questions and, according to various responses I’ve heard and read, it also answers the questions raised by most of the few who have the gall to question the President-elect.
I’m satisfied. Hopefully, now we can move on to the more important issues facing a nation in crisis.
But questions had to be asked. Red flags needed to be raised, because Obama himself has set an incredibly high-standard for which he must be judged. You cannot roar into office as a self-proclaimed great reformer and then not expect questions and raised eyebrows when you take what at first glance seems like a politically-expedient path to resolving a scandal that threatens your administration before you even take office.
Obama must be held to a high standard because we expect so much from him after the escalating abuses of power and outright corruption that have dominated our government for too long. It does no good to simply say "well, at least he’s not George W. Bush" because Bush lowered the bar of expectations to subterranean levels. Obama cannot be judged by relative standards. He must be judged against himself because he himself has said he will be different and an agent of change.
I hope he meets that standard. I voted for the man. I like his style and I admire his courage to take on a challenge that some think is impossible. I hope he can take a nation that is mired in depression — both economic and mental — and restore the pride we once felt about America.
But I’m a journalist, an ink-stained newspaperman from the old school. I believe in legendary Chicago newspaperman Finley Peter Dunne’s statement that "it is the role of a newspaperman to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable."
Somebody has to be the one raising the questions because too many others in the press — particularly the mainstream media — aren’t doing so. Too many in the media played cheerleader when George W. Bush invaded Iraq. The New York Times and Washington Post supported the war on both their news and editorial pages. At the time, I questioned the so-called "intelligence" that Bush used as a lie to try and justify his private little war and I was called unpatriotic for doing so.
It is never a journalist’s role to serve as a supporter or cheerleader to any person, cause, philosophy or political party. Real journalists are gadflies, always questioning, always skeptical, always looking for hidden agendas.
During both the Democratic primary and general election, I saw too many in the media become overt cheerleaders for Obama. They didn’t question when they should. I don’t believe in rat-pack journalism. When Obama did good, I wrote about it. When he didn’t so so well, I wrote about it too.
Capitol Hill Blue was born during the administration of William Jefferson Clinton, a brilliant man with many demons and a weakness to resist temptation. Clinton had the potential for greatness but frittered it away because he couldn’t keep his pants zipped. He also had a problem with honesty and his lying under oath cost him his license to practice law. I went after Clinton with a vengeance because I can’t stand a politician who lies to the American public and squanders opportunities.
I went after George W. Bush because he lied (many, many times), squandered too many opportunities and produced one of the most corrupt administrations in our lifetime after promising to create "the most ethical administration in history."
Barack Obama has the most potential for greatness of any President that I’ve watched and covered in more than four decades in the profession of journalism. He has already blazed many new trails and made history. He has created a level of expectation that far exceeds any incoming President in many decades.
I hope he delivers on all the hope and promise he brings to the task. I really do.
But when, in my opinion, he fails, I will say so.
That’s my job.
From all of us at Capitol Hill Blue, our best wishes to all of you for a safe and joyous holiday season. I will be away from the keyboard next week as we prepare to launch a re-designed Blue for the New Year.
See you in 2009.