The Curious Case of Barack Obama and his One Degree of Separation from Pay for Play
By: Jim Byrd
There is a trivia game called Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon. The premise is that any actor can be connected through their film roles to Kevin Bacon by six degrees or less. Example: Connect Kevin Bacon to Marilyn Manson–Marilyn Manson was in JawBreakers with Rose McGowan; Rose McGowan was in Scream with Neve Campbell; Neve Campbell was in Wild Things with Kevin Bacon. The idea to the game is to connect in as few degrees as possible. To create a board game of degrees starring Barack Obama, the premise would have to be reversed. The challenge would be to try and find more than one degree of separation between Barack Obama and the current crop of pay for play politicians.
The latest pay for play politician to fall within one degree of Barack Obama is New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson. Bill Richardson was Obama’s nominee for Secretary of Commerce. But unfortunately Governor Richardson had to withdraw because of some sort of statistical probability that dictates that if a company gives a governor money and then magically gets a multi-million dollar contract with said governor’s state, there probably is a connection. What will a $110,000 “contribution” to New Mexico’s governor get you? If you are CDR, the company in question, it will net you a $1.5 million transportation contract with the state of New Mexico.
In another one degree of separation between Obama and pay for play politicians, the granddaddy of them all, at least for 2008, is the ongoing Governor Rod Blagojevich’s pay for play scandal involving Blagojevich’s attempting to sell Obama’s Senate seat to the highest bidder. Blagojevich was making strong headway in his merchandising of the U.S. Senate seat until those vexatious FBI Special Agents decided to file a criminal complaint against Blagojevich and arrest him and his plans after a couple thousand hours of incriminating wire taps. Sorting out the degrees on this one is tricky, as it involves unknown conversations, so far, between Obama and Blagojevich, Obama’s Chief of Staff, Rahm Emanuel–who had direct talks with Blagojevich about Obama’s Senate seat. The Obama/Blagojevich conversations are unsubstantiated and still in the conjecture stage, but are still a certifiable one degree link. Emanuel did have direct talks with Blagojevich about the senate seat. Not that there is a pay for play basis for their conversations, but a strong second degree link. Now enter into the fray of first and second degree separations, Obama’s good friend and ad hoc realtor, Tony Rezko.
The Obama, Emanuel, Blagojevich, and Rezko degrees of separations are coming full circle at this juncture.
Obama, as a state Senator for Illinois, chaired the state’s Health and Human Services Committee. In one of Obama’s rare instances where he did something constructive other than vote present, or advocate infanticide, he introduced Senate Bill 1332, the Illinois Health Facilities Planning Act, to trim the 15 member board to 9. Now one only had to “contribute” to five members to have a majority as opposed to eight. The Illinois Health Facilities Planning Act also gave Governor Blagojevich the power to appoint members, in which he wasted no time in appointing Rezko affiliates–Rezko requested 19 people to be appointed to various boards for his benefit, and Blagojevich appointed 10 of them. Perhaps Rezko was not appointed directly to this board as his plate was too full after being appointed, by Blagojevich, to the board that oversaw the permitting of hospital expansions and construction projects. He was also appointed to the board that oversaw the state’s $30 billion teacher’s pension. Thus leading to his indictment for shaking down anyone who wanted to do business with the state concerning hospital construction or wanting investments from the $30 billion teacher’s pension. Its hard to keep count of Obama’s first, second, or even third degrees of separation within the Blagojevich opprobrium.
In yet another one degree of separation from another pay for play politician, along comes Obama’s nominee for Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton and her “what will a $100,000 ‘contribution’ get you in New York scandal.” In keeping the corruption tradition alive and well within the Clinton dynasty, Hillary and Bill Clinton surely could not be on the bench for the pay for play Democrat scandals. Clinton, unlike Richardson, will most definitely not withdraw her name because of a statistical probability. The mathematical dilemma, for everyone except Clinton–as she has weathered much worse political malfeasances, is this: Robert Congel donated $100,000 to Bill Clinton’s library, along with other suspicious foreign U.S. adversarial contributors. He also donated as much as he “legally” could to her election campaigns. In a move that is completely unrelated to monies from Congel to the Clintons, Clinton directed legislation through the Senate that benefited Congel in the form of tax exempt bonds to finance Destiny USA-an expansion to his Carousel Center Mall. And as a bonus, she also added to a highway bill $5 million for road construction around Congel’s Destiny USA mall. Again, any resemblance of association of money and favors is purely coincidental.
So there you have it, the Obama’s one degree of separation between himself and current political pay for play chain. Although this only lists a few links in the chain, conventional wisdom and the law of probability demand there are many more one degrees of separation between Obama and pay for play politicians lurking under the surface. But, then again, it could all be just another misunderstanding.
Jim Byrd's website is A Skewed View.