Monday, May 25, 2009

Is Obama Going on a Crime Spree?

Is President Barack Obama, in making his choices for ambassadorships, engaging in a criminal enterprise?

If you take the findings in the Don Siegelman case as legitimate, the answer apparently is yes.

That answer, of course, would be ridiculous. But it illustrates the ridiculous nature of the Siegelman prosecution.

Benjamin Sarlin, of The Daily Beast, reports that Obama plans to appoint Chicago investment banker Louis Susman as an ambassador in London:

Susman, like previous presidential friends posted to places like London and Paris, has one major thing to recommend him: money. The Democratic fundraising legend got behind Obama's candidacy early and later bundled some $300,000 in donations toward his inauguration. As John Kerry's national finance chairman, Susman raised a staggering $247 million for that campaign in 2004 and he has worked on several presidential campaigns in the past as well.

Obama is hardly alone in appointing money men (and women) to ambassadorships. It's become a presidential tradition:

Recent examples of the ambassador-as-money-man include Robert Tuttle, one of George W. Bush’s ambassadors to the Court of St. James, a California auto dealer who raised $100,000 for Bush's 2004 campaign and an additional $100,000 for his inauguration. St. Louis businessman Sam Fox, Bush’s ambassador to Belgium, donated $50,000 to Swift Boat Veterans for Truth in 2004 and raised more than $200,000 for Republicans. Ronald P. Spogli, the ambassador to Italy, who raised more than $100,000 for Bush's re-election. There are many, many others like them with similar totals next to their names.

So the George W. Bush administration was awash in pay-to-play schemes--and Obama apparently is following suit--and Siegelman could get a 20-year prison sentence for his appointment of campaign supporter Richard Scrushy to a health-care board?

What's the difference between the Siegelman transaction and those that have been practiced by numerous presidents, including the current one? None that I can see, except this: Don Siegelman was governor of Alabama, a state where Karl Rove had deep ties and the connections to make sure it stayed in the "red" column.

Justice in America. Ain't it great?

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