The chutes and ladders of The Chicago Way: While Obama climbs high, his onetime pal Rezko is slip-slidin’ away

Posted by on Nov 23, 2011 at 12:52 pm

The federal sentencing hearing for convicted influence peddler Antoin “Tony” Rezko — once a friend and personal real estate fairy to President Barack Obama— had just begun in Chicago.

It was just after 9:30 a.m. Tuesday when U.S. District Court Judge Amy St. Eve motioned to the marshal to bring Rezko into the courtroom. A door in the wall opened to a sparse corridor where prisoners often wait.

But there was no Rezko. A half a minute passed. Still no Rezko. Then another half minute, like a magic trick gone bad.

And then came that loud flushing sound.

It was thunderous, the federal waters in epic reverberation, echoing through the courtroom as if by some Hollywood trick of speakers and amplifiers. It was so loud that Obama surely must have heard it in New Hampshire, where he campaigned Tuesday, pretending to be an anti-tax politician.

“Don’t be a Grinch. Don’t vote to raise taxes on working Americans during the holidays,” said Obama the Chicago pol in Manchester, flashing teeth, dazzling them with his wit and charm.

But his old friend Tony Rezko wasn’t dazzling anybody, even when he finally appeared in that prisoner’s corridor in that courtroom in Chicago. He stood blinking, a skinny ghost of the old Rezko.

The old Rezko was sleek and obvious, as genuine as an alderman’s handshake. He was the guy who knew guys and a way around almost anything. He was the wizard who bought that enchanted strip of land that was good for nothing except that it allowed the Obamas to get that dream house they couldn’t afford.

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