At a press conference today, Barack Obama was "absolutely certain" that no one on his team was involved with making any deals with Rod Blagojevich although he was still investigating to see what other contacts his staff might have had. I think I know why he is so confident.
I think the Obama campaign recognized long ago that Blagojevich was a ticking time bomb and they made the decision that the risk of dealing with him on any level outweighed anything that could possibly be gained. I suspect that a concious decision was made long ago that no deals would be made regarding Obama's vacant senate seat. My guess is that everyone on the Obama team was instructed to tell Blagojevich that he should use his best judgment in filling the senate seat. They could tell Blagojevich who Obama liked, but they never had any intention of offering the governor anything in exchange for any pick.
I think that Obama campaign manager David Axelrod's comments to FOX News Chicago on November 23rd make sense in this context. "I know he's talked to the governor, and there are a whole range of names, many of which have surfaced, and I think he has a fondness for a lot of them." If it had been planned for months that Obama would tell Blagojevich who he liked for the seat and nothing more, Axelrod may simply have assumed that the conversation had taken place at some time.
I think that Blagojevich's behavior makes sense in this light, too. The complaint describes the governor becoming irate with consultants who told him to “suck it up” and give Obama the senate candidate he wanted for nothing. I suspect that the consultants had put out feelers on behalf of Blagojevich and been told Obama wasn’t interested in any deals. The consultants would not have been as blatant as Blagojevich and Axelrod or Rahm Emmanuel would have been smart enough to cut them off long before they reached the point of suggesting a quid pro quo.
What is more interesting to me is what the Obama guys knew about Blagojevich eighteen months ago that made them decide to freeze out Blagojevich from the start. I wouldn’t be surprised if Obama gets away without ever answering that question as the right wingnuts are going to make themselves look silly trying to trump up some improper contact between Blagojevich and the transition team.