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We need to be able to trust Obama, staff Richard L. Connor Opinion

It was the night before Christmas and…

No. Wait. It wasn’t like that at all at our house on Wednesday.

Ours was an alternative scene to the one in the holiday rhyme.

It was the morning before Christmas and creatures were stirring and, yes, most likely one was a mouse in this old Maine house.

Loudest among the noises was the chatter of children ages 8, 6, and 4 all bundled under the covers and in bed together. They were discussing the wondrous events that lay ahead of them that day and night.

“We’ll just get out of bed when everyone thinks we’re asleep,” said the 8-year old, “and look out the window like I did last year. Honest I saw the red nose.”

“Yeah. I heard the noises on the roof,” said the 6-year old.

“Did he eat all the cookies?” asked the 4-year old.

Assured that most of them were gone by morning, she suggested that all would be eaten this year if the cookies left on the plate were the chocolate chip variety.

And so it went for more than a glorious hour as adults eavesdropped on this delightful conversation where faith, belief and limitless imagination outweighed suspicion and disbelief.

As uplifting as this respite from reality was, it was equally brief.

Bah! Humbug.

Should have stayed away from the news — especially the news about Chicago politicians and their confidantes.

Even though Rod Blagojevich was presented with an early Christmas gift – the headline-stealing, attention-diverting Madoff Scandal – the Illinois governor has not avoided continued and intense press scrutiny.

His scheming has been reduced to pettiness compared to the havoc created by the collapse of Bernard Madoff’s investment fund where an estimated $50 billion has been lost.

But he’s from Chicago and the newly elected president is from the same town. The electorate wants to know about possible dealings between Barack Obama’s staff and the governor.

Reporting Wednesday on the memo from the staff of President- elect Obama explaining contacts by his staff and friends with Gov. Blagojevich, the Washington Post offered this: “But the report does not make clear why Blagojevich stated that he thought the Obama staff was ‘not willing to give me anything.’ It states that none of Obama’s staff ever suspected that the governor was seeking anything improper in exchange for the Senate seat.”

Gov. Blagojevich is accused by federal investigators of plotting to exchange his appointment of Sen. Obama’s replacement in the U.S. Senate for favors and campaign donations.

Obama’s report was written by Gregory B. Craig, who is in line to become White House counsel in the new administration. It details contacts made by Rahm Emanuel, who will be Obama’s chief of staff, with Blagojevich and his aides and it mentions Valerie Jarrett. She was, according to Craig’s memo, approached by a union official who told her the governor wanted a Cabinet post. The report says she did not know Blagojevich expected that would be his reward for an appointment that met Obama’s approval.

Neither Emanuel nor Jarrett has been accused of any wrongdoing or criminal act.

After all, it is not a crime to be stupid or na´ve or even to pretend to be.

But it should be a crime to expect us to believe that intelligent, savvy persons such as Emanuel and Jarrett did not think Blagojevich might be slimy, sneaky, and perhaps want something in return for his decisions as the chief executive of state government in Illinois.

That one paragraph in the Post was jarring.

No one among Obama’s inner circle “suspected” Mr. “Blowdryovich” was capable of trading an appointment for return favors?

Come on.

Santa Claus? Ok. Rudolph with the red nose? You bet. But, do not expect us to believe the fantasy that Obama and his staff are so pure and squeaky clean they could not recognize Blagojevich as a political hack and a bum. His staff has known Blagojevich for years. He didn’t start behaving this way the day after the election.

Obama is failing his first test on transparency since being elected. He’s dodging and playing on the edges of fact and fiction. If it’s his staff’s fault for a lack of complete openness on the subject of Blagojevich, then now’s the time to make changes.

In a few weeks, the fate and trust of the nation will be in his hands. We need more honesty than we have seen in the conclusions reached in this report.

Without more candor from the Obama staff about Blagojevich and what they knew about him, believing in Santa is a better bet.

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