February 25, 2008


Mansion 'mistake' piles the pressure on Barack Obama (James Bone in New York and Dominic Kennedy , 2/26/08, Times of London)

A British-Iraqi billionaire lent millions of dollars to Barack Obama's fundraiser just weeks before an imprudent land deal that has returned to haunt the presidential contender, an investigation by The Times discloses.

The money transfer raises the question of whether funds from Nadhmi Auchi, one of Britain’s wealthiest men, helped Mr Obama buy his mock Georgian mansion in Chicago.

A company related to Mr Auchi, who has a conviction for corruption in France, registered the loan to Mr Obama's bagman Antoin "Tony" Rezko on May 23 2005. Mr Auchi says the loan, through the Panamanian company Fintrade Services SA, was for $3.5 million.

Three weeks later, Mr Obama bought a house on the city's South Side while Mr Rezko's wife bought the garden plot next door from the same seller on the same day, June 15. [...]

The spotlight fell on Mr Rezko's ties to Mr Auchi last month when the Chicago businessman was thrown in jail for violating his bail terms by failing to declare a different $3.5 million loan from the British billionaire, made in April 2007. Prosecutors feared Mr Rezko, who travels widely in the Middle East, might flee to a country without an extradition treaty such as his birthplace of Syria.

'Realism' in Syria (New York Sun Staff Editorial, February 15, 2008)
What in the world are advisers to both Senators Obama and Clinton doing in Syria in the middle of a presidential campaign — and why are the two campaigns so unforthcoming about the details of the visits? The same week that a terrorist mastermind harbored by the Baathist regime in Damascus was assassinated by a car bomb, both one of Mr. Obama's foreign policy counselors, Zbigniew Brzezinski, a long-time critic of Israel, and one of Mrs. Clinton's national finance chairs, Hassan Nemazee, were meeting with President Assad.

Mr. Brzezinski himself issued a statement to the Baathist controlled press in Damascus, where he was quoted by the official Sana News Agency as saying that the "talks dealt with recent regional developments, affirming that both sides have a common desire to achieve stability in the region, which would benefit both its people and the United States."

Unfortunately, Senator Obama is such a cipher that it's hard to tell coincidences from connections. Ms Clinton would be doing her party and her country a favor if she'd stop giving him a free pass.

Indyk Rushes to Ohio for Clinton (JOSH GERSTEIN, February 26, 2008, NY Sun)

Jewish and Israel-related issues are bubbling to the surface of the presidential contest as senators Clinton and Obama tussle over the Jewish vote in Ohio and Republicans seize on Ralph Nader's new claims that Mr. Obama until recently harbored "pro-Palestinian" views.

On Sunday morning, Mr. Obama spent an hour trying to address the concerns some Jewish leaders in Cleveland had about his candidacy. Last night, President Clinton's ambassador to Israel, Martin Indyk, arrived in Ohio for two days of meetings that Mrs. Clinton's campaign arranged to reach out to Jewish voters and rabbis. [...]

"The main reason she wins and will continue to win the majority of the Jewish vote is this is a community very much about 'Show me, don't tell me,'" Rep. Debbie Wasserman-Schultz of Florida told The New York Sun yesterday. "With Senator Obama, although he says all the right things, he just doesn't have that longevity to prove to Jewish voters that he will be there like Hillary Clinton."

Asked if there was anything specific in Mr. Obama's record that should give Jewish voters pause, the congresswoman said, "There's no pause….It's just that he's starting completely from scratch."

A few of Mrs. Clinton's supporters are willing to raise substantive questions in public about Mr. Obama's record on Israel. They question his stated willingness to meet heads of rogue states such as Iran. "There are some in the Jewish community who would not like the U.S. president meeting with Ahmedinejad," the vice-mayor of Parkland, Fla., Jared Moskowitz, said.

Posted by Orrin Judd at February 25, 2008 10:56 PM

Clinton really has no good way to attack Obama. She can't point out his lack of experience, because she has little more. She can't claim he would play nice with dictators because she would too. She can't raise questions about his connections with shady millionaires because she has her own. His radical past is off-limits because it's similar to hers. She can't bring up his connections with questionable foreigners because that's the xenophobic "politics of fear" she claims Republicans do. She's boxed in.

Still, I hope Republicans in Texas and Ohio vote for her in the primaries, because I want to keep them battling it out for as long as possible.

Posted by: PapayaSF at February 26, 2008 1:53 AM

Bingo! She just has to run as a Republican, like her husband did.

Posted by: oj at February 26, 2008 7:05 AM

If Hillary gets the nomination the nutbar wing of the Democratic party is going to freak, handing the election to McCain (with an assist from Saint Ralph).
If Obama gets the nomination he's such an untapped well of vice the GOP is going to be teeing off on him for the next 9 months.
Either way, it looks like it's going to be a fun summer.

Posted by: Bryan at February 26, 2008 9:04 AM

I don't think she is agile enough (or empty enough) to make that switch, OJ. I think with her there is a real person - not one that I would vote for, but a real person.

Posted by: Mikey [TypeKey Profile Page] at February 26, 2008 9:23 AM

As the season progresses, it starts to resemble 1972 more and more -- Obama as the modern day McGovern.

Posted by: Dave P. at February 27, 2008 11:05 AM