Tuesday, December 16, 2008

An Obama PR Crisis? The Blago Update

In the news today, an interesting sneak peek into how the Obama PR team handles a crisis. As Illinois lawmakers took the first step in ousting Blago from office, President-elect Obama announced a review by his own lawyer shows he had no direct contact withe the disgraced Governor about the appointment of a replacement for his Senate seat. Obama's attorney said the investigation revealed "nothing inappropriate" took place.

Obama fielded questions at a press conference yesterday, but sidestepped when asked whether his chief of staff Rahm Emanuel had spoken with aides to the Governor. Obama said the full results of the investigation by his incoming White House counsel, Gregory Craig, would be released "in due course".

My take on this since so many of you have asked: Obama is handling this crisis the same way he responded to the Reverend Wright racism controversy; confronting it head-on but not wasting too much time talking about it. Sometimes the best thing to do when accused of collusion with a nefarious figure or controversy is to do nothing. In this case, Obama was almost immediately exonerated thanks to the FBI wiretap tape where Blago says the President-elect's people would give him "nothing but appreciation" if he appointed a choice of theirs. However, there was a chance of guilt-by-association if it was determined Obama and Blago had associated frequently on other matters, or if Obama considered the Governor an adviser of some kind.

By conducting his own investigation Obama took a good first step toward declaring his innocence, however, I would have suggested a neutral third-party investigation into the matter if he truly had nothing to hide. By giving the job to his own counsel- the investigation doesn't really convince anyone that Obama is being as transparent as he can possibly be. I do agree with Obama deflecting the questions at the press conference and not spending too much time defending himself or talking about Blago. The disgraced Governor is a dangerous distraction and Obama hasn't a moment to lose before taking office. I promise to keep you updated as to more developments in this case!

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