Breaking: Jim Johnson steps down as chief VP vetter for Obama; Update: McCain camp unloads

Fittingly, no one thought to inform John Kerry that his departure was imminent so Waffles ended up going to bat for the guy and insisting the whole thing was no big deal shortly before Johnson himself decided that it was, in fact, a big deal.

Details forthcoming. In the meantime, no perfunctory statement from Obama about how “this isn’t the Jim Johnson I knew”?

“Jim did not want to distract in any way from the very important task of gathering information about my vice presidential nominee, so he has made a decision to step aside that I accept. We have a very good selection process underway, and I am confident that it will produce a number of highly qualified candidates for me to choose from in the weeks ahead. I remain grateful to Jim for his service and his efforts in this process.”

Update: Good point from the comments: Doesn’t this qualify in Obamaworld at the very least as a “distraction”? Or does the fact that it’s being presented as Johnson’s own decision mean Barry can’t use his favorite rhetorical device?

Update: Who replaces Johnson on the vetting team? Seems like an opportunity for Obama to cozy up to Hillary’s supporters by naming one of her own cronies to the position, like maybe Evan Bayh. That way, when they end up selecting someone else, it’ll be easier to justify overlooking her.

Update: Notes Marc Ambinder, “Something changed; yesterday, this was a ‘game’ and irrelevant; today, it was important enough to accept Johnson’s resignation.” Is there more to come? New stuff that Team Barry’s crackerjack vetting team forgot to check on in advance?

Update: Geraghty spies a pattern: “Once again, we see that Obama’s first instinct when encountering a skeptical questioner is to challenge the questioner; ‘no, you’re wrong.’ Twenty-four hours ago, this was ‘a game’ and Johnson didn’t work for Obama. Once again, as with Wright, and the flag pin, and Trinity United, etc., the initial answer is now inoperative.” Right. When do we finally hear, “This isn’t the Bill Ayers I knew,” I wonder? August? September?

Update: Now that an Obama advisor’s been stung by shady dealings, Time suddenly decides that it was probably unfair to go after McCain’s advisors’ lobbyist connections and that we should all rise above the fray.

Update: Obligatory.

“Jim Johnson’s resignation raises serious questions about Barack Obama’s judgment. Selecting the vice presidential nominee is the most important decision a presidential candidate can make and one even Barack Obama has said will ’signal how I want to operate my presidency.’ By entrusting this process to a man who has now been forced to step down because of questionable loans, the American people have reason to question the judgment of a candidate who has shown he will only make the right call when under pressure from the news media. America can’t afford a president who flip-flops on key questions in the course of 24 hours. That’s not change we can believe in.” –McCain spokesman Tucker Bounds