Rahm Emanuel is a transactional politician who comes out of a transactional political culture in Illinois. He operates on favors and horse trading and putting numbers on the board rather than principle and idealism. This has been known for a long time. Therefore, his horse trading with the Governor of Illinois while he was a Congressman should come as no surprise. The only problem with this is that said Governor was Rod Blagojevich.

President Barack Obama’s chief of staff, then a congressman in Illinois, apparently attempted to trade favors with embattled Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich while he was in office, according to newly disclosed e-mails obtained by The Associated Press.

Obama’s chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, agreed to sign a letter to the Chicago Tribune supporting Blagojevich in the face of a scathing editorial by the newspaper that ridiculed the governor for self-promotion. Within hours, Emanuel’s own staff asked for a favor of its own: The release of a delayed $2 million grant to a school in his district.

The 2006 discussion with Blagojevich’s top aide, Deputy Gov. Bradley Tusk, doesn’t appear to cross legal lines, and Emanuel couldn’t speed up the distribution of the funds. But it offers a peek at ties between two high-profile Illinois politicians — one now the president’s right-hand man, the other facing years in prison if convicted of political corruption.

Yes, Congressmen and Governors, especially those of the same party, talk to each other. And yes, they ask for favors and they deliver favors. And Congressmen try to get Governors to shovel money to their districts. That’s basic politics. I don’t see the issue here.

Except that this will all come out at a trial. And as chief of staff Emanuel sits closely to the President, where the contagion of something actually untoward could spread. There’s definitely some danger in that. My problem with Emanuel is not this transactional view of politics, much of which is just a fact of life. It’s that you’d expect someone so driven in this manner to actually be good at delivering. And I basically see the opposite being true. Even in this case, Emanuel couldn’t get the money released from the Governor.