Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Blagojevich I: I'm Sorry, I Can't Pretend to Be Shocked

So Rod Blagojevich turned out to be an arrogant crook. Uh huh. I'm having a hard time working up the snark, to be honest. We've known this man was a Professional Son-In-Law for years, folks. The question was always how long it would take him to get caught, and now we don't even have that question to debate anymore. The only surprise for me was that Blagojevich surrendered a FOID card, which means he was a card-carrying Illinois gun owner. I'm not terribly surprised by that; the biggest gun-banners always seem to have their own gun collections, and Dick Mell, Blagojevich's Fairy-God-Father-In-Law, has a legendary collection in Chicago; he even had to bull through a change in Chicago's nightmare bramble of gun registration laws to make his collection legal. These are not people who play by the rules they set for the lower castes.

But I've been called out after a fashion, so here are the few thoughts I've mustered up:

First, let's talk about what this doesn't mean. No matter how breathless the national
conservative commentators get, this doesn't tell us much about Barack Obama, at least not yet. We already knew that Obama made his name in Chicago, so we already knew that he swam with sharks. The question was whether he joined in all the reindeer games in Chicago, a city where every public possession or job is for sale, or whether he held himself aloof and stayed above the fray. The mainstream media was convinced early on that The Lightworker must have avoiding Getting Any On Himself, but his detractors have never been so certain. I would be VERY surprised to find out that Obama participated in any of Blagojevich's schemes to sell his old senate seat, if only because Blagojevich comes up with political corruption schemes that Ethel would give Lucy a good solid BOP! just for mentioning. I give the guy credit for having a plan, but let's face it, it was almost more stupid than it was criminal, and that's going a ways. I doubt Obama would have had anything to do with it; if he did, he's not as smart I think he is.

As a matter of fact, I've heard more than one commentator wonder why Patrick Fitzgerald came out publicly so quickly, when he could have let the scheme progress until the crime had actually been committed. It seems, they argue, that he accepted a weaker case when all he had to do was wait a few more weeks--after waiting years. How to explain that? Well, I can think of a few explanations off the top of my head. Maybe even one that hasn't already been proven untrue.

How about this? Fitzgerald has taps on the Governor's phones--he has actually had FBI agents break into the Governor's Office--and he's been talking to sources. How long will it be before the Governor finds out somehow? Eventually somebody will open his big mouth--especially since Fitzgerald has had to brief feds, the IL Attorney General's office, and others. In Chicago, the chances that no one who wants a big favor from Blagojevich will find out about this are not very good. I think it's entirely possible that Fitzgerald either found out or suspected that his investigation had been "made" and would soon be revealed to Blagojevich. That would make an early wrap-up make a lot more sense, no? But it's not the only possibility.

Moving on, conspiracy theorists both left and right aside, it's unlikely that Blagojevich has contracted OBS (Obama Bus Syndrome.) More likely, he is what he seems to be--a boyishly-handsome puppet of his father-in-law who got way too big for his britches and decided that no one could deny him anything. The really shocking thing about all this, after all, is not that Blagojevich was corrupt. It's that he tried to pull off what may have been his most audacious act of corruption after Tony Rezko went to jail (and was widely assumed to be telling the Federales where all the bodies were buried--so to speak); after taking credit for the passage of "anti-corruption" legislation he'd fought like the last Nazi platoon in Berlin; after Patrick Fitzgerald made it clear that he was back in Chicago with a vengeance and looking for fresh meat; and after he made every state employee take an offensive little annual quiz to show that they weren't doing dirty deals with the peoples' money, while he commuted by state-owned airplane and drove the state into the ground.

So . . . now that we've covered What This Doesn't Mean and How Don Was Wrong, what does it mean? For the next few weeks, Illinois is going to be a little on the random side. We have no Governor, period. Blagojevich is incapable of governing the state; no one will work with him, his own staff is resigning, and his political allies are all calling for him to resign. But what many outside the state may not realize is that Blagojevich has been despised by most of the state legislature and most state workers for years. His effectiveness as a Governor was already limited to things he could ram through with the help of Emil Jones, the President of the Illinois Senate, who announced his planned retirement this year. Blagojevich doesn't have to step down. The legislature can impeach him, but he can drag that out for a long time. It doesn't make much sense for him to do that, since the Feds have him dead to rights in his criminal trial and he should be spending all his time and energy on that, but he's a stubborn and unpredictable man and it's possible that he'd stay in office out of spite. He can even still appoint someone to Obama's Senate seat, if he wants to tilt at that particular windmill. It would make a negative amount of sense, of course. Even if it were possible for him to force the appointment through, who would he find who would want to be appointed by him now? Even if the appointee was too stupid to turn down the "honor," there are still Constitutional officers in Illinois who have the power to block the appointment--and if, by some miracle, they all develop suicidal tendencies and let the appointment go through, the leadership in the U.S. Senate can still refuse to seat the appointee. Bottom line? Never, ever, ever gonna happen. Not even a little. It would be completely pointless for Blagojevich to try.
So why can't I shake the nagging feeling that he might do it anyway just to see what shakes out? Maybe I've lived here too long.

Here's the bottom line: there are people all over the state who are literally getting drunk in celebration tonight because Blagojevich got arrested. I know of one guy who was actually saving a vacation day to be used for just that purpose, and he told a mutual acquaintance that he and his friends were going to be off work today to tie one on. But all the jubilation misses a sobering point: Rod Blagojevich is the Governor we deserved. We elected this guy. Twice. He wrecked us, he despised us, he choked our economy to death and humped the cold, lifeless corpse while he laughed at us, and we asked him to stay for another term.
Do we really have any right to be surprised that this crook thought nobody could stop him? All we had to do was vote against him, or, if we couldn't find the fortitude to do that, vote against him the second time. We failed. We sowed failure. Now we reap failure.


Anonymous said...

So..... does Blagojevich know where Daly's bodies are buried? Will he sing or threaten to? If so, will he repeatedly fall down a flight of stairs in custody, so nobody further up gets fingered?

Anonymous said...

My first thought was that the 'Feds' figured that waiting until Obamamama was elected to spring their trap would result in orders from "higher up" to persue no such action. It does contrast with the way Ryan's arrest was handled.

May I disagree with you about the people electing what we deserve? In part, I do agree with you; too many did vote for him. (Especially those marvelous residents of the various cemetaries, parking lots, and lakes of Chicago...) Think back to the choice we had; one known quantity of gross incompetence and a flaming anti-gun liberal with skeletons spilling from her closet. Personally, I did not vote for either of them- I think I went Libertarian. My take on Illinois state politics is that the Chicago political machine will elect who it wants, and that's what happened here. The Republicans had no one of standing that they could run.

Funny, too, how in a 76 page inictment, Rezko was a footnote. Bye Bye, guv...

Don said...

Rezko's time is still coming.

And I don't claim to have any idea what Blagojevich can really offer with regard to Daley. Anything he was personally involved in, obviously, but beyond that? It all depends on whether Daley kept Blago at arms' length. It's hard to imagine that he doesn't know a lot of things that could get Daley into hot water, but Daley's slippery. I doubt there are taped phone calls from Daley openly demanding bribes, for instance.

Blagojevich, Patti Blagojevich (his wife) and Dick Mell (her father) and Daley are all going to have to figure out where their loyalties lie--along with a lot of others.

Anonymous said...

I suspect Fitz was acting to prevent further embarrassment to the government. Can't let the sheeple lose too much faith and credit.

Regarding Daley, I bet Blago has nothing on him.

Anonymous said...

I had a little celebration with cake and a bottle of champagne. I believe Illinois deserved Blagojevich. Its the small percentage of people who voted for Topinka who do not deserve Illinois. People have been saying its a sad day for Illinois. Its not. This has been going on all along, most of us already knew. Its a happy day that this corruption has been exposed!

Anonymous said...

Lets briefly discuss the 5 senate candidates. None of them are virgins to political office. How can I believe the Gov. or a minion did not approach all five on the pay to play contest, and yet all 5 choir boys/ girls claim ignorance on the matter and no law enforcement authorities were informed on this matter of coercion, bribery, and abuse of office. I ask what was Lisa Madigan (candidate #2) doing for 6 years as States Atty while all this was going on?

How many years have the other candidates been involved in Illinois politics? J.J Jr. Candidate #5 claims ignorance as well yea Riiiiight.

Why does it take a Federal investigation to find corruption in Illinois?

I suggest each election refuse to vote incumbent, lets spread the wealth around and give everyone a chance at some graft.

Anonymous said...

fyi - on who knew what/when about the investigation, WGN/CLTV were talking to Tribune people. Seems the Trib had info on some of the wiretaps and other aspects of investigation and were asked to NOT publish stories right away. (got this from watching like it was a train wreck, couldn't turn it off :) )

-chicago non-democrat

Brandon said...

he choked our economy to death and humped the cold, lifeless corpse while he laughed at us

I suppose I have a twisted sense of humor, because I found that uproariously funny.

I'm glad he's going to the clink, and sorry that Illinois has to put up with him and his ilk. Too bad the rest of the state can't vote Chicago into the lake.

Gudis said...

I talked to the owner of a gun shop in Plainfield a long time ago, I recall him mentioning that Blago (or maybe Daley) had a very valuable collection of classic Winchester shotguns.

perlhaqr said...

So why can't I shake the nagging feeling that he might do it anyway just to see what shakes out? Maybe I've lived here too long.

I dunno, assuming there's anyone in Illinois who isn't on the take, and the Blag knew about it, he could really hurt their career by nominating them for the seat...

Anonymous said...

All I can say is I didn't vote for him EVER. But then I have been following Chicago Politics for a long time and I knew he was slime from day one. As far as his Richardness, Blago probably has nothing on him because they literally cannot stand each other, so they never talk, never. The one to watch next is little Alexi Ginoulias. 29 year old guy who was never registered to vote gets elected Treasuer? Could it be because of his families banking ties, hmmm. And how does the gov pull off some of this stuff without the treasurers help. Verry innteresting.

Anonymous said...