Politico published a very lengthy piece yesterday that described the intricate details of a low-level controversy that has presented Marco Rubio with political headaches for a number of years. One premise of the story is that the issue may metastasize into a bigger problem should Rubio become a top contender for the Republican nomination. The gist of the conflict is that Rubio co-purchased a house in 2005 with a now-former Congressman who is under federal investigation. That house has since lost substantial value, and the pair has put it on the market for ten grand less than they paid for it ten years back. Politico's reporting is granular, if slightly tedious, and this subject matter is fair game. If and when Rubio enters the presidential race, he ought to be asked to address his longstanding relationship with an ethically-challenged friend, his decision to purchase the home with said individual, and the subsequent foreclosure on that home. Rubio's personal finances came up in his 2010 Senate campaign, as did tha pesky "house of horrors." Those attacks clearly didn't resonate, at least not enough to persuade voters to elect a different Senator. (It's also worth noting that the fact that a home purchased at the peak of the real estate bubble lost value during the 2008 crash -- ending up unoccupied by its owners and in foreclosure -- is hardly an anomaly, let alone a scandal). But some Democrats are licking their chops over the story, eagerly serving up quotes to Politico, including this self-unaware gem:
“This will be an issue,” declared Craig Smith, a top adviser for the Ready for Hillary super PAC, echoing the views of many supporters and detractors alike. “When you run for president, voters and the press have an insatiable appetite for people’s histories, what they’ve done, who they are. … It raises questions about his judgment, about the kind of people he would bring with him into government, into a campaign.”
Yes, Ready for Hillary flack, please tell us more about how damaging candidates' problematic histories, sordid associations and lapses in judgment can be. That he chose to offer this quote right smack dab in the midst of a swirling shinola storm surrounding Her Majesty's private email scheme is almost impressive. Speaking of which, why can't the State Department answer a simple question that could clear up whether Hillary perjured herself upon leaving her post? And when it comes to "people's histories," thank heavens the Clintons don't have any serious perjury-related baggage in their past. Also, now that Hillaryworld has totally reversed its official story about how some 30,000 of her emails were permanently destroyed, isn't that abrupt about-face reason enough to demand that she turn over her secret server? The sundry excuses are burning to the ground. Hell, even one of Hillary's top surrogates has been running around on national television straight-up admitting that she concocted her (woefully, recklessly insecure) basement email server as a means of avoiding Congressional oversight and scrutiny. That's, um, not allowed. Not under the law, and not under her own department's "clear cut" rules. Ugly questions abound, and as we all know, voters and the press have an insatiable appetite for people's histories, what they've done, who they are…and how their conduct and decisions reflect on their judgment. Except here's the thing: Much of the media's collective appetite didn't seem quite so voracious when it came to a highly dodgy real estate arrangement made between a different first-term Senator and his convicted felon associate. Flashback to 2008:
Prior to Wednesday's verdict, the national Obamedia paid scant attention to the relationship between their preferred candidate and Mr. Rezko, who was convicted on 16 of 24 federal counts. A jury found Obama's longtime friend and financier guilty of aiding and abetting bribery, mail fraud, wire fraud, and money laundering—all of which will likely contribute to a lengthy prison sentence. The federal convict and the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee have known each other for the better part of two decades, with the former raising approximately $250,000 for the latter's various campaigns. After Rezko first offered Obama a job in the early 1990s, a friendship and political alliance was born; the two men shared dinners, joint outings with their wives, and a lucrative political network. Rezko served on Obama's financing committee during his 2004 campaign, helping to raise approximately $160,000 for the aspiring U.S. Senator...By 2005, Rezko's shady business deals and alleged illegal activities had been widely reported in the Chicago press. Even so, Obama decided it would be a wise move to enter into a major property deal with his scandal-tainted friend. On the very same day Obama paid $1.65 million (a substantially smaller sum than the asking price) for his Hyde Park mansion, another buyer purchased an adjoining lot for $625,000—an additional sum the Obama's could not afford. The new owner? Rezko's wife, Rita, who somehow managed to secure the property despite an annual salary of $37,000. A short while later, Mrs. Rezko generously sold a strip of her new property to Obama so he could build a fence he had been hoping for. At the time of this second transaction, Obama admits he knew Rezko was experiencing some "legal problems." Nonetheless, the deal went through and a lovely wrought-iron fence—paid for by Rezko—was erected between the two properties.
Rubio's buddy was a member of Congress, and is merely under investigation at this stage -- plus, their joint venture was struck far before ethical clouds began to gather. Obama's friend and trusted fundraiser was found guilty of 16 felonies in the middle of the campaign, the culmination of years of "legal problems," of which Obama admitted he was aware before he jumped into the sweetheart South Side land deal. Again, the point is not that Rubio shouldn't have to field any pointed questions about this episode. He should, and I'd imagine he would handle those inquiries capably. The point is that the Clinton machine may want to think twice about harping on other people's shady friends, personal histories, and questionable judgment. And it's always worth underscoring Democrats' maddeningly justified confidence in the media's ability to apply distinctly uneven standards of scrutiny and outrage over such matters. If Rubio becomes a frontrunner, how many press outlets will treat the "house of horrors" story -- already declared "an issue" by Hillary's people -- like a smeary sideshow, which is precisely how the Obama campaign effectively framed the factually-verifiable and fragrant Rezko connection? Keep me posted on that. By the way, the first "smear merchant" to raise the Rezko issue was…Hillary Clinton, but the media was face-first in the tank for O throughout that primary, which is why her campaign was given the full-blown Republican treatment at the time. Finally, if you've begun to suspect that hammering away at media double-standards has been a hobby horse of mine lately, you're right.