A co-worker asked me today why Rod Blagojevich (D-Father-In-Law) would have had his defense attorney stay in the Governor's Mansion in Springfield, IL. It's a fair question, because at first glance, it looks like a pointless and stupid thing to do. Blago has long been the butt of jokes all over the state because he refused to move to Springfield when he was elected Governor. Springfield is the capital of Illinois, and the Governor's Mansion is a beautiful house on some beautiful land, but Rod was determined that his family would live in Chicago, not some backwater provincial capital where he could walk a couple of blocks and be in a neighborhood where poor people live in small houses. People here the Springfield area, of course, have a special hatred for him, and a lot of people keep a sort of mental tab running on the bill taxpayers are footing for him to fly to Springfield and back on a private state-owned airplane every time he wants to put in an appearance at the capitol.
The latest outrage came when people found out that although Blago is still not staying in the Governor's Mansion, Ed Genson has been staying there while he's in Springfield for Blagojevich's impeachment hearings. Giving the defense lawyer free room and board in the people's mansion has not been a popular move. The guy has more money than anybody in Springfield who isn't under indictment, and the best hotels in Springfield would be cheap to him. Besides, even if Blago is too stupid to know what the reaction would be, surely Genson had to know that people would be upset at this. So why do it?
Well, it's always possible that they just did something stupid and blind. That's how Blago got into this mess, and from the taped conversations we've all heard now, it does seem likely that we've overestimated his ability to think through the consequences of his actions. But what if we assume that there's some logical plan? What logical reason comes to mind? Here's the only thing I've come up with: Rod Blagojevich is looking for ways to piss people off.
Why do that? Because he has just about zero leverage. He can't do anything with his power as Governor, because the Legislature will undo it. He can't appoint the new Senator because he won't be seated. He's got no allies left; the power brokers never liked him that much before, and now it's poison to be seen not spitting on him. He has one card, and only one card, left to play: he can hang on, refuse to leave, and grind Illinois government to a complete halt. He made it clear today that he's planning to do exactly that; "I will fight. I will fight. I will fight until my dying breath," he said; it was poetry worthy of Whitesnake. Why hang on? Because the only thing he has left to trade for anything of value is his resignation. The only thing of value he can promise in return for what he wants (presumably leniency of some kind) is to go away without doing further damage. And the more upset and wild-eyed the public gets, the more value that card has, because there could eventually be political consequences for the people the public expects to remove Blagojevich if they can't get it done. If the public hates Blagojevich more and more, and if he can hang on and not get removed by impeachment in a timely manner, he can then offer his enemies his resignation in return for favors he wants. Under this wild-eyed conspiracy theory, it's hard to tell which insults are deliberately cultivated for the purpose of building this tension and which are the result of a thug with more hair than brains thrashing around without thinking much. But some things might make more sense. For instance:
- Why else put Genson up in the Governor's Mansion, the one place in Springfield guaranteed to infuriate the citizenry even more?
- Why else would Genson be making a special effort to mock belittle the legislators on the impeachment panel?