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
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.