Senator Barack Obama gave an extensive interview with the Chicago Tribune Friday answering questions about his relationship with Tony Rezko. The Tribune provided an initial report of the interview where Obama revealed Rezko was much more involved with Obama’s fundraising efforts, but repeatedly chastised himself not showing better judgment:
Indicted Chicago businessman Antoin “Tony” Rezko was a more significant fundraiser for presidential candidate Barack Obama’s earlier political campaigns than previously known. Rezko raised as much as $250,000 for the first three offices Obama sought, the senator told the Tribune on Friday.
Obama also said for the first time that his private real estate transactions with Rezko involved repeated lapses of judgment. The mistake, Obama said, was not simply that Rezko was under grand jury investigation at the time of their 2005 and 2006 dealings. “The mistake was he had been a contributor and somebody involved in politics,” he said.
To my mind, the key issue would be potential for payback. Was there any indication Rezko would come calling and expect something in return? This, after all, is the seedy side of politics, and if Barack Obama was playing this game, his words would be empty as a noisy gong or clanging cymbol. The report continues:
Asked if he ever thought Rezko would expect something from their relationship, Obama was definitive. “No, precisely because I’d known him for [many] years and he hadn’t asked me for favors.”
The rest of the article simply recaps some of the history regarding Obama’s relationship with Tony Rezko.
Obama did the right thing. We called for more on this issue, and we’re pleased to see that the Senator took time to set the record straight. The article gives every indication that Obama answered questions patiently and thoroughly. Reporters had no lingering questions. Instead, we find someone taking himself to task for trusting a person who had earned his trust, only then to discover that trust was misplaced. That would appear to be the case here.
We’ve all been there before.
There may be may be more to the story, but we don’t see it at this point. For now, we give Senator Obama credit. It’s not easy to admit you’ve been had, especially in the middle of a political campaign when the only thing that passes many voters’ muster is perfection. But it takes character and an ounce or two of humility to admit a mistake.
This is the man we’ve come to know in Illinois.