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Opinion: Fitzgerald Puts Obama on the Hot Seat

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Opinion: Fitzgerald Puts Obama on the Hot Seat

AP

Mitt Romney may have an opportunity to pounce on Barack Obama's next U.S. Attorney.

U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald knows how to put politicians on the hot seat even when he’s not trying them in federal court.

In December 2008, he indicted Gov. Rod Blagojevich. This was a month before President Barack Obama was scheduled to take office and, he would presumably, appoint a Democrat as U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois. Immediately, Obama and Sen. Dick Durbin announced that Fitzgerald would be staying on.

Now, Fitzgerald is resigning from office effective June 30. That’s just over four months before the presidential election. Which means that Obama’s choice of his replacement could become a campaign issue.

Fitzgerald was chosen by former Sen. Peter Fitzgerald because he wasn’t from Chicago, and was therefore an uncompromised outsider to the state’s political culture. A Chicagoan might not have been offended by the behavior of Illinois’s governors, but Fitzgerald was. He indicted them both.

Obama -- and Durbin, who as senior senator of the president’s party, will make the recommendation -- will now be under pressure to choose another outsider. Otherwise, Mitt Romney will accuse him of enabling political corruption in his notoriously corrupt hometown. John McCain tried the same thing in 2008, but Romney would have a news peg to hang it on.

Patrick Fitzgerald never did like Illinois politicians. Now, he’s giving them a hard a time by quitting as he did by doing his job. 

Buy this book! Ward Room blogger Edward McClelland's book, Young Mr. Obama: Chicago and the Making of a Black President , is available Amazon. Young Mr. Obama includes reporting on President Obama's earliest days in the Windy City, covering how a presumptuous young man transformed himself into presidential material. Buy it now!

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