Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Recommending Rod's Rapid Resignation

President-elect Obama has upped the ante in the Illinois corruption scandal, by calling on Governor Blagojevich to resign.

I doubt that a politician as skilled as Obama would make such a statement, unless he considered it likely that the governor would comply. If the president-elect were rebuffed in such a high-profile situation this early in his time as leader of his party, I think it would reduce his authority in that role.

It should always be remembered that a president has multiple roles, one of which is head of his political party. As I see it, it is in that role that Obama is acting in this case.

I don't think it fits the head of state/head of government roles that he is preparing to take on, to dictate details of a state's political leadership. As U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald repeatedly emphasized in his press conference yesterday, while it's his job to enforce federal law against state officials as much as anyone else, the Federal Government cannot dictate to the State of Illinois whether Blagojevich continues as governor, or how it chooses a new senator.

But, as head of the Democratic Party, Obama can attempt to persuade a Democratic public official to do the right thing.

In the wake of Obama's statement, I consider the governor's resignation more likely than seemed to be the case yesterday. But, if Blagojevich successfully defies the president-elect, that might embolden other Democrats to challenge him in future cases.

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