Hamilton, Madison, and Jay

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Monday, November 10, 2008

"Dear President-elect Obama, please keep Fitz on the job."

Patrick Fitzgerald has made quite a name for himself. He went after Karl Rove and Scooter Libby over the non-scandal involving Valerie Plame. The Left crowed when he put Libby in jail for something he didn't do, and when he was done there, he was moved to Chicago to go after the Daley.Stroger/Blagojevich machine. During the campaign, Obama promised to keep him in place to finish the job he was tasked to do. But US attorneys serve at the pleasure of the president, and today the The Chicago Tribune is pleading with him to keep Fitzgerald where he is:

Yes, voters want change—and not just in Washington. Decade upon decade, the Illinois culture of political sleaze has cheated citizens of this state. Public corruption has distorted governance, thieved from innocents and alienated voters who now distrust many of the officials whose salaries they pay.

Today one unstoppable force of nature threatens the culture of sleaze and its insider financial deals, its illegal patronage hiring, and its pay-to-play contracts for cronies: Since his arrival from New York in 2001, U.S. Atty. Patrick Fitzgerald has demonstrated the energy and integrity that, in time, could liberate Illinoisans from indentured servitude to criminals in government.

President-elect Barack Obama has said he'll keep Fitzgerald in the job, and we trust he'll keep his word. But Fitzgerald, who serves at the president's pleasure, has powerful enemies. They know that as his list of cooperating witnesses lengthens—convicted fundraiser Antoin "Tony" Rezko may be joining that club—so does his list of potential targets. Those with reason to fear Fitzgerald's breath on their necks would love to see him dumped—or promoted high into Justice Department oblivion—when Obama takes office.

Fitzgerald's federal agents and prosecutors are investigating numerous arms of Chicago, Cook County and state governments. The Oct. 30 indictment of Springfield power broker William Cellini, and the Nov. 3 guilty plea from former Chicago Ald. Edward Vrdolyak, are but two more beats in an accelerating drumroll of cases.

These men long were viewed as members of an untouchable caste in Illinois politics: Through the years, how many U.S. attorneys have served in Springfield and Chicago without seriously probing their conduct?This sense that the untouchables finally are under scrutiny is but one reason for Obama to continue Fitzgerald's service. The prosecutor also stands to be Obama's new best friend as he scrubs the president-elect's home state and its culture of sleaze. During this year's presidential campaign, John McCain used Chicago corruption as a means to attack Obama. McCain's TV ads strained too hard in trying to establish guilt by association. But they cannily exploited the perception nationwide that, as in Louisiana and New Jersey, honest pols are museum rarities here. McCain's ads essentially asked: If he's from Chicago, how clean can he be?

Obama can show his commitment to cleaning up this city and state by affirming that he meant what he said during the campaign: He wants Fitzgerald to stay. The sooner Obama silences speculation about the possible replacement of Fitzgerald, the better for both men: Obama will show that he's a man of his word. And witnesses to corruption will know they aren't cooperating with prosecutors who might soon have a new boss. ...

Mr. President-elect, please tell Patrick Fitzgerald that his job future is as secure as yours. And invite Illinois officials to keep this independent and skilled prosecutor at bay not by angling to remove him, but by following the law.

This is the first test Obama will face. The whole point of being connected to the Chicago Machine was to reach the presidency. Now that he's accomplished that, he can throw the machine under the bus. He doesn't need them anymore. If he keeps Fitzgerald on the job, and actually cleans up Illinois from the corrupt machine, he'll virtually guarantee a second term in 2012. Why? Because it'll be real reform to an area of this nation that desperately needs to be cleaned up. Let's face the reality here that the Chicago Machine is just as dirty, just as corrupt as the Mafia gangs that used to run Chicago. The difference is the body count isn't nearly as high as when Capone's thugs ran the show.

Of course he gets a two-fer on this one. If Fitzgerald goes after the machine full force, and takes down the players, Obama can always execute his presidential duties (after inauguration) and pardon key players in the machine, such as Daley and Blagojevich. Chances are he'll end up pardoning his former friend and colleague, Tony Rezko.

But that's beside the point. He promised to keep Fitzgerald on the job in Chicago. If he breaks this promise and either fires him, or bumps him up to an unimportant post at Justice, we'll know where Obama stands on reform. We'll also know that his promises aren't worth the teleprompter the words were typed on.

Publius II


Blogger knowitall said...

The left-wing illuminati are putting in all the elitist who will help them take over, and if you're not on board, get off.

November 17, 2008 at 6:20 PM  

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