The baseless drive continues

THE BASELESS DRIVE CONTINUES…. Last week, the Wall Street Journal‘s Jonathan Weisman suggested Barack Obama and his transition team should ignore Patrick Fitzgerald and federal prosecutors, and release a list of contacts with Rod Blagojevich’s office immediately. As Weisman put it, Obama could have “easily” ignored the wishes of law enforcement officials in the middle of an investigation, and “reassured” the public last week, instead of this week. For support, Weisman quoted Karl Rove’s lawyer.

In the latest effort to connect Obama to the Blagojevich controversy, the WSJ‘s Weisman tries a new trick today.

[Obama] promised to account for any and all contacts between his staff and the governor’s, setting a release within days. Finally, he said the account was complete, but he wouldn’t release it until Christmas week.

The slow dribble “hurt him slightly,” because it made him look like an ordinary politician in scandal mode, not the antipolitician people believed they voted for, said Ron Bonjean, a Republican consultant who dealt with scandals affecting then-Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott and then-House Speaker Dennis Hastert.

Of course, those of us familiar with what happened know that Obama delayed the release of the contact list because federal prosecutors requested it — a fact that Weisman doesn’t note at all. There was no “slow dribble”; there was cooperation with the U.S. Attorney’s office conducting a criminal investigation.

Weisman added, “Regardless of how clean the Obama camp is, the release of the report isn’t likely to be clean.” I don’t kow what this means. Even if the report shows no wrongdoing whatsoever, it will be scandal fodder anyway?

This was tiresome before, but it’s getting worse. When we learned over the weekend that Rahm Emanuel had one pro-forma courtesy call with the governor, and that the transition team really didn’t offer Blagojevich anything, I hoped this would discourage reporters from pursuing this angle of tying the president-elect to the controversy. Apparently, “regardless of how clean the Obama camp is,” the baseless drive will continue.

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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.