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Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Countering Huckleberry

As has been noted, well, like everywhere at this point, Lindsey Graham was on George Stehpanopoulos' show this weekend, where he first confirmed what everyone who's paying attention already knows, that a McCain presidency would represent a continuation of Bush's economic and healthcare policies (which, as we are all painfully aware, have worked out so very well....):
STEPHANOPOULOS: You said the tax policy and the healthcare policy were essentially, Senator Graham, John McCain is calling for an extension or maybe even enhancement of the George Bush policies.

GRAHAM: Yes, absolutely.
In addition, when faced with the incontrovertible fact that John McCain's campaign crew is filthy with lobbyists, despite Mr. Maverick's lies protestations to the contrary, had this to say:
GRAHAM: Well, Charlie Black helped run Ronald Reagan's campaign -- he is not lobbying now. Rick Davis ran John's campaign in 2000. Mark Salter is his alter ego. Phil Graham is a great friend. John McCain didn't borrow money from a guy going to jail to build his house, so if we're going to start talking about associations, that's fine, we'll do that. But let's talk about the question of bipartisanship.
Um. Yeah, Huck. But there's only one problem with that attack. It is, like so much else that comes out of the McCain campaign, simply untrue. First of all (and I know, just like your pappy continually does, you must have simply misspoke on this bit), the Obamas bought, not built, the home in question. But that's a piddling error. The real issue here is that Obama has not only never borrowed a single penny from Rezko, but has done nothing wrong whatsoever.

For a real handy rundown and refutation of the ways in which the GOP-McCain smear machine has tried to tie Obama to some sort of wrongdoing in the Rezko affair, we shood look to Eric Zorn's latest piece in Obama's hometown newspaper, the Chicago Tribune. The paper, it should be noted, which has done the most thorough investigation of the matter, and which knows all of the various players intimately.
So for the gentleman from South Carolina and other befuddled parties, here are '08 things you need to know about how and why the Obamas and Rezkos purchased adjoining properties in the Kenwood neighborhood on the same day in 2005.

1. The deal could have gone down without Rezko. While it's true that the couple who sold the house to the Obamas and the adjoining vacant lot to Rezko's wife required the deals to close on the same day, there was at least one other serious bidder on the lot.

2. The Obamas did not get a special discount on the house. Yes, the original asking price was $1.95 million and the sale price was $1.65 million. But the sellers have confirmed that the sale price was the result of routine real estate negotiations and was the best offer they received on the house.

3. The sellers rejected two lower bids—$1.3 million, then $1.5 million—from the Obamas.

4. The Rezkos did not pay an inflated price for the vacant lot. Obama has said his broker told him another interested party had already put in a bid on the lot at or close to the asking price of $625,000. No one has challenged this.

5. The Obamas didn't get a special discount from the Rezkos when they later purchased one-sixth of the vacant lot to enlarge their yard. The price the Obamas paid, $104,500, was a neat one-sixth of the price of the lot and more than double the value Obama said his appraiser put on the strip. The remaining portion of the vacant lot reportedly sold earlier this year for $675,000.

6. The Obamas did not receive or borrow any money from the Rezkos to buy their house. They took out a $1.3 million mortgage and paid the balance with proceeds from Obama's best-selling books.

7. Obama hasn't done any political or personal favors for Rezko since this saga began. The best that critics can come up with is that Obama allowed the son of a Rezko business associate to serve a one-month, unpaid internship in his office in 2005.

8. The reason Obama is nevertheless correct in describing his actions here as "boneheaded" is that Rezko is and was a sleazeball. Many of the warning signs were obvious in 2005, and Obama blew through them.
While that should put the matter to rest, we all know it won't. The GOP is grasping wildly at any straws they can find, imagine, or manufacture to counter Obama's momentum, and this one will, as we've seen, be on the top of their talking points. Regardless, for all of y'all who hear this nonsense gurgling from the throats of parrots, Zorn's handy cheat sheet should help in your response. And you will respond, right?

Which still leaves the main point: McCain's campaign is filthy with current and former lobbyists, to whom he is, and will continue to be, indebted.

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