Monday, November 10, 2008

Keep Patrick Fitzgerald working

As someone who used to care a lot about Chicago's culture of political corruption, I'll heartily endorse the Trib's call for Obama to live up to his promise to keep Patrick Fitzgerald on as U.S. Attorney. I still believe this is the single most important thing Obama can do toward solving that problem.

If Obama does keep Fitzgerald on, it seems to me that the anti-machine types who have cried and complained about Obama's complicity in the system would face some serious realpolitik questions -- about their preferred tactic of fighting the machine, which is to loudly and constantly denounce it, and about what really counts as complicity. A politician they deemed insufficiently anti-machine would have quietly helped dismantle the machine, and that would have to be accounted for.

On the other hand, if Obama does remove Patrick Fitzgerald, and if the investigations of Blagojevich, Daley et al. are somehow scuttled as a result, that would strongly reinforce the most cynical views of the city's politics, and of Obama's motivations. I don't know any more than you do, but right now I'd say it's very unlikely but not impossible that President Obama would remove Fitzgerald as a favor to certain Chicago interests.

But it's an open question. Like the Tribune editorial board, I would like to hear from President-Elect Obama about it once again.

P.S. ... Alternatively, there may be ways of fixing Chicago's and Springfield's political cultures without resorting to indictments. That's not what I believe, but that may be one of my points of disagreement with some of the anti-Obama-anti-machine types. If you believe an Illinois politician now living is capable of changing the fundamental structures of Illinois political culture, you will not agree that counting on the U.S. Attorney to clean things up is an acceptable answer.

P.P.S. ... Another alternative, Fitzgerald remains in place but still nothing changes. Totally possible. I do not say leaving Fitzgerald in place automatically destroys the machine. I say it's the state's best shot at destroying it.

1 comment:

stridewideman said...

I love Fitzgerald, but the fact that he was never able to close the deal with Rove makes me wary. Still, I suppose that while Rove was able to pull some extra-constitutional bushwah and say he couldn't be compelled to testify, the chances of Blago being able to do the same thing are pretty remote.

The fact that Blago swept in to power on a reform platform and has been in hot water ever since is humorous. The fact that Daley is still holding strong is not. The man's a deity, and I would be shocked if Fitz was able to put it together to take him down. The fundamental structure of Chicago is the Daley machine. Blago is just standing on top of it.

If Fitz wasn't able to compel Rove to testify, let alone catch him in perjury, his chances at Daley are slim to none.