June 4, 2010
When It Rains in Chicago, It Pours
As President Obama discovered when he tried to deliver his Memorial Day speech near Chicago last weekend, "when it rains, it pours."
The mile-deep gusher now polluting Louisiana and the Gulf of Mexico is a metaphor for the Pandora's Box of miseries that seem to be raining on the nation and the world: European financial instability, third-world nukes, South American narco-states, the re-emergence of piracy, America's unprotected borders, our persistent 10% unemployment rate, exploding government debt, runaway entitlements and public pensions, aging infrastructure, a health care system headed for bureaucratic sclerosis, and on and on....
Standing between this onslaught and us is the leader of the free world, Barack Hussein Obama, who, it is becoming increasingly obvious, is in way over his head. If you were Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, would you feel comfortable knowing this White House has got Israel's back? If you were Governor Jan Brewer, would you be confident in the president's ability, even willingness, to halt the hordes of illegals pouring across the Arizona border? If you were Governor Bobby Jindal, would you sleep easy knowing this administration might eventually, someday, perhaps support your request to build protective sand barriers between the advancing oil slick and valuable Louisiana fishing and wildlife waters? Not on your life. You don't have to be a governor or a foreign leader to feel nervous. A lot of people are starting to worry.
Joining those getting worried is Barack Obama. But he's got a lot more on his mind than developing an effective American energy plan, or Israel getting blown off the map, or helping the private economy recover. Part of what keeps the president awake nights is the fact that jury selection has begun in the Rod "Blago" Blagojevich trial, and a federal judge just cleared the way for White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel to testify.
Don't think for a moment that it was a coincidence that President Obama abandoned the BP oil rig mess to take a family vacation to Chicago last weekend. He didn't travel back to the Windy City because it is a fair-weather paradise in the springtime, or because he missed the old Hyde Park home with the side yard bought by Anton "Tony" Rezko's wife. Besides, Rezko hasn't been anywhere near his lot for quite a while. He's in a witness protection program, with federal bodyguards keeping him safe.
Even in Chicago, where politicians are adept at wiring outcomes, this trial has to be making a lot of people nervous, among them the President of the United States, along with the mayor, the current Illinois governor, several U.S. senators, and some members of Congress. Blago has made it clear that he doesn't plan to go to prison quietly. He wants to be put under oath and tell his side of the story. Without a doubt, his side of the story will boil down to exactly this: Blago did only what everyone else was doing. Handing out jobs and selling Senate seats is what Chicago politicians do all the time.
Given the current flap over the administration's offer of a job to Pennsylvania's Joe Sestak in exchange for his staying out the Senate race, and stories of a similar job offer to a Colorado politician, we can understand the concern. Scratch the recently passed Health Care Reform Bill, and you'll find dozens more cases of job offers in exchange for votes. As this trial drags on, who knows how many cans of worms will get kicked over?
As it turned out, that "vacation" to Chicago resulted in the rain-soaked Memorial Day speech, which lead to the news footage that provided the picture worth a thousand words:
There on our television screens was President Obama, grimly clutching his umbrella after the temperature suddenly dropped fifteen degrees and the skies opened up in a mid-west gully-washer. It was all he could do to read the teleprompter and make himself heard over the rolling thunder.
The audience, hundreds of loyal Democrats, stood dutifully shivering in the rain, getting soaked. Many of them had, perhaps, seen Obama speak before, in better times, when he was full of dreamy promises about lowering the sea level, healing the earth, and fundamentally changing America. We can assume it began to dawn on some in the crowd, the smarter ones, just what kind of president we are stuck with for most of the next three years.
When it rains, it pours.
Jed Skillman photographed hundreds of political television commercials, first for one party, and then for the other, over a twenty-year span. He blogs at plumwoodroad.blogspot.com.