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Thursday, March 13

How you learned to stop worrying and love Obama

Hurry hurry hurry! Get your ticket to the Greatest Magic Show on Earth! See how the central issue in the Tony Rezko-Barack Obama relationship vanished right before your eyes! Watch as The Amazing Pundita and her scantily attired assistant Oprah reveal secrets of astounding misdirection and verbal sleight-of-hand! Get your ticket now -- yeah yeah kid here's a ticket for your puppy too. Hurry! Hurry!

[Oprah enters Stage Left and bows to the audience, then teeters in her five inch heels to a large box in the middle of the stage.]

Pundita: No dear this isn't the part where we saw you in half. Start the Power Point presentation, eh?

Vanishing Act
On March 6 the venerable British financial publication The Economist published an overview of the Rezko trial and its implications for Barack Obama. We'll begin by studying a few paragraphs from the report. Watch carefully don't blink. Watch carefully don't blink. Watch -- squeeze the little clicker, dear:
Mr Rezko is seen as one of Chicago's slimiest characters -- no small feat in a city where corruption rivals deep-dish pizza as the local speciality. Unfortunately for Mr Obama, he and this shady operator were once quite friendly.

The trial, as his staff rush to point out, has nothing to do with Mr Obama. Mr Rezko, a political fund-raiser, property developer and restaurateur (of fast food), was indicted in 2006.
We'll pause here to point out -- to point out [Oprah grabs a pointer] an astounding feat of magic.

The assurance by Obama's staff has been repeated not only by The Economist but by every major news outlet that discusses Obama's relationship with Rezko. Again and again, over a period of many months, you have been assured six ways from Sunday that although Rezko is on trial, Obama is not in any way involved.

Now my charming assistant will point to two words on the screen. Just as we rehearsed. Just as -- [Oprah points to the words "political" and "fund-raiser" in The Economist text.]

Thank you. Now let us repeat the sentence but with emphasis on those two words:
Mr Rezko, a political fund-raiser ... was indicted in 2006.
Tony Rezko has pleaded not guilty to all charges. However, it's vital to understand that the trial does not only relate to charges of extortion, money laundering, fraud, and aiding and abetting bribery. It also relates to allegations about how Rezko used the extorted money.

A large part of the money that Mr Rezko controlled was used to finance election campaigns for a host of politicians in Illinois going back several years, and ranging from the lowest positions right up to the office of governor.

From this you can see it's somewhat misleading to allege that Rezko is a crook; he is a political fundraiser who used crooked means to finance political campaigns. He conducted this operation methodically, consistently, over a period years.

This involved considerable risk on Rezko's part -- and the more his modus operandi became known, the more people he pulled into his network, the riskier the enterprise.

So unless Mr Rezko is barking mad we can rule out that his method of fundraising was in the altruistic spirit of fostering the democratic process. He did not risk many years in prison to be helpful; he risked his freedom to buy up politicians.

From that viewpoint it's splitting a hair to assert that Barack Obama is not in any way involved in Rezko's trial. True, Mr Obama has not been indicted on any charge but every politician in the state of Illinois touched by Rezko's money is involved.

Indeed, The Economist article eventually mentions:
Mr Obama's name may come up in the trial, but only peripherally: Mr Rezko told two associates to give money to his 2004 Senate campaign.
This statement is a splendid example of verbal sleight-of-hand. Rezko was a major campaign contributor to Obama, told several people to donate to his Senate campaign, and served on his finance committee when Obama ran for the US Senate.

However, we'll save discussion of lessor feats of magic for Act II. For now, understand that everyone of reasonably sound mind running for political office in Illinois knew that when Tony Rezko offered to help them get elected, he expected help in return.

Even in the unlikely event that Barack Obama was so dense that he did not immediately comprehend the Rezko Way, you may trust that repeated fundraising help from Tony Rezko was accompanied by very clear explanations.

Yet by constant repetition of the statement that Barack Obama is not involved the trial of Tony Rezko, the whole point of the Obama-Rezko relationship was made to vanish -- was made to -- was made -- [Oprah throws gold glitter] to vanish into thin air, right in front of your eyes.

Now I, The Amazing Pundita, with the help of my irreplaceable assistant, will reveal the secret to this astounding feat of magic.

[Oprah plunks a dunce cap on her head and grins impishly at the audience.]

You are the secret, as the audience's willingness to suspend disbelief is the secret to all magic tricks.

[Pundita and Oprah join hands and bow deeply to the audience, then vanish in a puff of smoke.]

CURTAIN

This post is also published at Rezko Watch.
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