The media defense of disgraced Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich and corruption in politics continued Sunday morning as new "Meet the Press" host David Gregory, along with his guests, actually defended Blago's actions as "pay to play" business as usual that's just "part of the system" and "how the world works."
Such seems an astounding about face from the press's disgust and incessant focus on the so-called "Republican culture of corruption" that surrounded the reporting of former Republican Majority Leader Tom DeLay's travails in 2006, as well as the attention given to Jack Abramoff the same year in order to assist the Democrat takeover of both chambers of Congress that November.
Amazingly, two years later, the corruption in Illinois involving not only a Democrat governor, but also having some links to folks connected to the newly-elected Democrat president-elect, are just "part of the system" and "how the world works" (video embedded below the fold, relevant section at 4:20, file photo):
DAVID GREGORY, HOST: Mary, one of the questions that came up this week from a reporter in the press conference with the president-elect is "What is wrong with politics in Illinois?" But you in your column try to put a little perspective to all of this. This is what you write. We'll put it up and share it with our viewers. Called "Pay to Play," which of course is critical to all this:
Regardless of how we rail against Blagojevich, at the heart of all politics is pay to play. Yes. There's a thin line between expectations and shakedown. But do any of us really believe that the people who raise huge sums of money for a particular political candidate aren't expecting something for their efforts? Do we relly believe that a person who is vested with the power to give away a Senate seat isn't going to give it to the person who will somehow do him or her the most good?
Here's the New York Times this morning, a fresh example of that. Front page, "A champion of Wall Street reaps the benefits." Talking about all of the contributions that Sen. Chuck Schumer gets from Wall Street. Constituents, yes, and an important business for the country. Reality check time?
MARY MITCHELL, CHICAGO SUN-TIMES: Reality check. Pay to play, everybody knows it. Even, not just in politics. Office politics. Pay to play. You know, if you know the boss, and you need something from the boss, he is going to look around and find the person who is going to do him the most good. He's not going to hire, put somebody in a place of power that isn't doing him any good. That's the world. That's how the world works. But, there is a line. You got to know how to play the game. And Blagojevich, Governor Blagojevich was tacky in playing the game. That's what people are upset about. They are embarrassed that this man had the nerve to get caught on the wiretap using foul language, actually giving voice to, you know, the wink and nod thing. He didn't just wink and nod, he actually tried to shake people down according to the wiretaps.
Hmmm. That's how the world works. And, Blago's crime wasn't the crime itself, but getting caught and using foul language.
Isn't that great? But there's more:
GREGORY: The president-elect said this is the far side of the business approach to politics which is a nice, euphemistic way to put this. But Chuck this is part of entrenched politics here in Washington, something that Obama is going to confront.
CHUCK TODD, NBC: It is. I mean, that is one of the things that Obama himself bragged about having so many small donors that maybe he wouldn't be caught having to just serve as the big (?). But you bring up a big point about Chuck Schumer. And you're going to have this huge roundtable discussion about the economy. What Wall Street happened, what happened in the financial situation? You look at what some of the contributions that Wall Street made, and there is a connection here. You wonder why legislation, why some things were overlooked or why Wall Street was allowed to do these credit default swaps. There are lines here of, you know, huge donations made to people that are in charge of these regulations. The Senate Banking Committee, and elected U.S. Senators.
You're darned right, Chuck. Like how about the Financial Services Modernization Act of 1999 which removed the last vestiges of the Depression Era Glass-Steagall Act? Maybe if this hadn't have been approved with overwhelming bipartisan support in both chambers of Congress, and signed into law by then President Clinton, our banks, brokerage firms, and insurance companies wouldn't have been allowed to behave the way they did the past nine years.
Or how about the Commodity Futures Modernization Act of 2000 which was also signed into law by Clinton and totally deregulated derivatives such as credit default swaps? Why didn't you bring any of this up this morning, Chuck, if you wanted to discuss the connection between the current financial crisis and political corruption?
As for Todd's reference to the Senate Banking Committee and elected U.S. Senators, mightn't this have been the perfect time to discuss how the current chairman of that committee, Sen. Christopher Dodd (D-Conn.), took more money from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac since 1989 than any other member of Congress?
Or that second on this list is president-elect Obama despite having only been in the Senate since January 2005?
No. We wouldn't want to talk about such things as we're trying to sweep the Blago revelations under the rug as just business as usual. In fact, Gregory even put an exclamation point on such sweeping:
GREGORY: And none of this is illegal by the way. Even to raise it as an example. Nothing wrong with it. It's part of the system.
Yep. Just part of the system now. But in 2006, when it was Republicans involved, it was a culture of corruption that needed to immediately be cleaned up and replaced by supposedly more ethical Democrats.
What a difference a D makes.