Obama wants to see Blagojevich resign

OBAMA WANTS TO SEE BLAGOJEVICH RESIGN…. This arguably should have come yesterday, but it’s absolutely the right call.

President-elect Barack Obama believes that Gov. Rod Blagojevich should resign, his advisers said on Wednesday. “The President-elect agrees with Lt. Gov. Quinn and many others that under the current circumstances it is difficult for the governor to effectively do his job and serve the people of Illinois,” Robert Gibbs, the incoming White House press secretary, said.

On Tuesday, shortly after news of the criminal corruption complaint against Blagojevich broke, Obama said he was “saddened and sobered” by the news. But he stopped short of demanding the governor’s resignation or addressing the questions that arose in the wake of Blagojevich’s arrest, including how his successor to the Senate will be picked. The Obama transition team has worked to distance itself from Blagojevich, with whom relations were already strained.

Gibbs said that Obama believes the Illinois general assembly should now take control of the issue of picking a new U.S. Senator for Illinois. The assembly is expected to reconvene next week to debate whether to hold a special election to fill the seat. The assembly should “consider the issue and put in place a process to select a new senator that will have the trust and confidence of the people of Illinois,” Gibbs said.

Given the legalities, I can understand why the president-elect might have initially hesitated before calling for the governor’s ouster, but this is the only appropriate response. Yes, Blagojevich is innocent until proven guilty, but we’ve all seen the criminal complaint, and we all know what the governor was recorded saying. As Gibbs explained, Blagojevich, even if he were to try to fight to keep his job, will find it “difficult” to “effectively do his job.”

Reports have indicated that Blagojevich was back at work this morning. It’s probably safe to assume that right about now, he’s coming to grips with the fact that he has no allies and will not be able to function as Illinois’ chief executive. Even if he were to throw the political world a curveball and announce his choice to fill the Senate vacancy, a) the person would almost certainly turn it down; and b) the Senate leadership would politely explain to the governor that his choice will not be seated.

I don’t know who Blagojevich trusts, or who has his ear, but someone needs to let him know that he needs to focus on his criminal defense full time, starting right about … now.

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Steve Benen

Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.