When the Los Angeles Times' tenacious and gentlemanly Peter Wallsten (whom you may recall from President Bush's clueless joke about Wallsten's legal blindness) wrote about Sen. Barack Obama's voting snafus in the Illinois legislature -- at least five times he accidentally pressed the wrong button when voting -- the Republican National Committee e-mailed it to us only seconds before the Clinton campaign did.

This morning the Clinton campaign steps up to the plate by providing a veritable smorgasbord of newspaper stories and op-eds about Obama's relationship with indicted real estate magnate Tony Rezko.

There's the Seattle Times, the AP, the Los Angeles Times, the Chicago Sun-Times, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, and the Chicago Tribune.

Perhaps most damaging is this Chicago Sun-Times op-ed ("Time for Obama to Come Clean"), which quotes Obama telling CBS this week of Rezko that "My relationship is he was somebody who I knew and had been a supporter for many year ...He was somebody who had supported a wide range of candidates all throughout Illinois. Nobody had an inkling that he was involved in any problems."

"Somebody who I knew?" the Sun-Times columnist, Mark Brown, writes.


"That's such an understatement that it borders on a falsehood….This is somebody who spotted Obama's raw talent and offered him a job while he was still in law school, somebody who gave him one of his very first campaign donations for his first political race. This is somebody for whom Obama and his law firm performed legal work, not a great deal of it by Obama personally perhaps, but enough to know how the man made his money and that he was one of the major developers of low-income housing in his state legislative district.

"Somebody who was a big fund-raiser.

"This is somebody who was one of the key fund-raisers for Obama's U.S. Senate campaign, somebody who came through with big money at a crucial juncture in a difficult primary contest.

"And let's not forget this is somebody who bought the piece of real estate adjoining Obama's home, then sold the senator part of it, in a strange transaction about which key details have never been disclosed -- owing in part to the curious refusal of the real estate agents and prior owners to discuss it.

"Beyond that, Obama and Rezko had a personal friendship that was still going strong two years ago, the extent of which has been difficult to explore with Rezko under indictment and Obama trying to run from him as far and fast as he can.

"It's way past time for Obama to come completely and entirely clean about his Rezko dealings ...I write this as somebody who has always expected to be voting for Obama this year."

Not the kinds of headlines and op-eds a candidate wants two days before the South Carolina primary, and days before Super-Duper Tuesday.

I assume there exists a document listing all the shady characters the Clintons have been pals with over the years?

Man this thing is getting ugly. How long before it devolves into the weeds of the Starr Report footnotes?

-- jpt

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