Wednesday, December 10, 2008

The First PR Test For The Obama Administration

Illinois Governor
Rod Blagojevich kind of threw a bit of a monkey wrench into Barack Obama's pre-inauguration honeymoon Tuesday by getting arrested by the FBI for allegedly trying to sell Obama's vacated Senate seat and demanding recompense from the Obama team in exchange for appointing their preferred candidate. US Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald has been investigating Blago (as the cool kids call him) since, like, forever, but nearly all the evidence in the charging document comes from post-election wiretaps. Obama's team wanted Blago to appoint Obama senior advisor Valerie Jarrett to the position. But Blago wasn't thrilled about their unwillingness to bribe him. But Valerie's a major player in the criminal complaint. Who'll have to testify?

ROD BLAGOJEVICH said that the consultants (Advisor B and another consultant are believed to be on the call at that time) are telling him that he has to "suck it up" for two years and do nothing and give this "motherfucker [the President-elect] his senator. Fuck him. For nothing? Fuck him." ROD BLAGOJEVICH states that he will put "[Senate Candidate 4]" in the Senate "before just give fucking [Senate Candidate 1] a fucking Senate seat and I don't get anything." (Senate Candidate 4 is a Deputy Governor of the State of Illinois).

Later in the conversation, ROD BLAGOJEVICH said he knows that the President-elect wants Senate Candidate 1 for the Senate seat but "they're not willing to give me anything except appreciation. Fuck them."

Now Obama's team knew all along that Blagojevich was under federal investigation, and so therefore they were wary of actually giving him anything. They couldn't know the arrest would come before inauguration, but everyone knew it had to come eventually (unless Obama fired Patrick Fitzgerald as soon as he took office, which would've been a public relations nightmare). So while Rod still controlled (and still does control!) who gets the seat, there was a limit to what Obama's team would do to get their person appointed.

This is the kind of scandal that will definitely define the kind of PR machine Obama will run in his administration. Will he follow the failed again and again Bush example of deny, deny, deny, pretend its not happening? Or will he follow his earlier approach during the Reverend Wright controversy and approach the problem head-on, eloquently stating his position without making excuses for himself or others then move on? The later is what I hope we will see from Obama but time will tell the influence of a higher office on the PR approaches of a President.

(Analysis courtesy of Gawker)

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