By INVESTOR'S BUSINESS DAILY Posted Thursday, June 12, 2008 4:20 PM PT
Election '08: If Barack Obama has such difficulty picking friends, mentors and advisers, should voters entrust him with the responsibility for picking a Cabinet and Supreme Court justices?
Sen. Obama was going to ride into Washington aboard a white horse and clean out the stables, except his high horse keeps coming up lame.
With the resignation of Washington insider James Johnson from Obama's vice presidential search team, we see the now-typical Obama pattern — surround yourself with either questionable characters or those who don't live up to the standards you yourself set, tap dance awhile, accuse your accusers of political motives, then disown those you said you could not or would not disown.
Obama has a history of railing against "predatory" mortgage lenders, and one in particular, Countrywide Financial. Then it's discovered that Johnson, the former head of the quasi-governmental mortgage agency Fannie Mae, benefited to the tune of $7 million in below-market-rate personal loans and was one of the "Friends of Angelo," Angelo being Countrywide CEO Angelo Mozilo.
Obama's response was to say, gee, it's not like I'm paying him, and besides, his function was only "tangential" to his candidacy. Forgive us for going off on a tangent, but helping pick the person who is going to be a heartbeat away from the presidency is tangential? What if Johnson were to recommend another Friend of Angelo?
Before Johnson's departure, Obama had three people on his VP search team. The second was Eric Holder, a former Clinton deputy attorney general. Holder helped push Bill Clinton to pardon international fugitive and tax cheat Marc Rich, whose wife, Denise, was a big Clinton donor.
The third was Caroline Kennedy, last seen claiming Obama is the second coming of her father, JFK. Right.
Obama has experience with sweetheart real estate deals, having participated in a joint venture with now-convicted Illinois influence peddler Tony Rezko, a scheme that netted Obama the big house he now tells college graduates not to seek. It seems Obama, the self-proclaimed Washington outsider, was quite the Cook County, Ill., insider.
Obama has found a way of getting around contributions from special interests and lobbyists — take it from their employees. The Washington Times reports that while he has said he won't accept money from the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers Association, Obama has taken "tens of thousands" from partners at Covington & Burling, which was paid almost a half-million dollars to lobby for PhRMA last year. One of its lawyers is Holder.
Obama doesn't accept money from the oil companies, either — just their employees. At one point Obama had received $222,309 from donors at Exxon, Shell, Chevron and others. According to USA Today, two oil company CEOs pledged to raise $50,000 each for Obama.
"The Obama campaign is trying to create a distinction without very much of a practical difference," FactCheck.org says. "We're not sure how a $5,000 contribution from, say, Chevron's PAC would have more of an influence on a candidate than, for example, the $9,500 Obama has received from Chevron employees."
Obama has engaged in sweetheart land deals with a donor — Rezko — who is accused of influence peddling while Obama himself has accepted hundreds of thousands from firms that peddle influence. He has associated with race-baiters (the Revs. Jeremiah Wright and Michael Pfleger) as well as terrorists (William Ayers and Bernadine Dohrn). One could forgive him for poor judgment, but such episodes have been too frequent. He is just a politician who says and does what politicians say and do when caught.
Personnel is policy, they say, and so far Obama's choices don't inspire confidence. Before he throws anyone else under the bus, let's hope the bus stops here.