Thursday, January 8, 2009

Blago Committee Recommends Impeachment, Fresh Air, Sunshine and Exercise

All solid, healthy recommendations. I concur on all counts.

Yeah, Blago hasn't been officially impeached yet. What happened today was that the committee investigating impeachment voted (21-0) to impeach. Now the rest of the Illinois House of Representatives has to approve it. I haven't really looked into the numbers on that, but I don't know of anyone who expects that Blago won't be impeached, even if by some miracle it doesn't happen tomorrow. I wouldn't be shocked if that were a unanimous, vote, too, but maybe there are a few who feel like they owe Blagojevich something. There might even be some districts in Chicago, dominated by Racial Reverend political organizations, where Blagojevich is still popular enough to make it worthwhile to defend him. Against that, of course, you have the prevailing opinion in the rest of the legislature, state government, state of Illinois, and United States of America. Oh, and America's First Black President wants Blago out, too, which has to provide some cover.

Blago has reportedly already made it clear that he's not resigning come what may, so it'll be a fight, but we knew that. I listened to a little of the hearings held in the Impeachment Committee today, and three things struck me:

1. Roland Burris testified today. A lot of legislators tried to get him to admit in some way that he is at least aware of the sickly pall hanging over his appointment, but he was having none of that. No story there. Others propped him up and gave him softballs so he could make speeches. One guy did a long-winded monologue about his sister watching Perry Mason reruns (I did not make that up) and comparing himself to Perry Mason before setting Burris up to make a speech about the ironclad legality of his appointment. The poor man was as mixed-up and turned around as a meth cooker trying to barbecue with his tank of ammonia; he kept trying to get to the point, but he didn't have one, and that seems to make it elusive. After a bit of that, he started asking Burris questions, but he kept telling the answer to the question himself . . . . I was imagining Burris driving a spork into his leg to keep from screaming "GET TO IT! MY TERM IS OVER IN 2010! I DON'T HAVE TIME FOR YOUR MEWLINGS!" That's what I'd have been saying.

2. Ed Genson spoke today. At the end of the hearing, Representative Curry, the Chair, was wrapping things up and explaining what would be done this evening and tomorrow. Genson interrupted her halfway through: "Madame Chairwoman, I'm sorry, does that mean we're dismissed, or . . .?"
"Yes, absolutely, you're free to go," she replied. "Off to Washington with you now." Then she finished her sentence. This gave me pause. You may remember my original theory as to why Genson seemed to be angering the electorate deliberately, in a planned and precisely calculated way: I thought Blago and Genson might be trying to drum up more outrage to put pressure on politicians and prosecutors to cut a deal in return for Blago's resignation. Now I wonder if he's not simply throwing the rudeness out there to see if he can get the other side (in this case, that's everybody) to overextend in their outrage and leave him an opening. If you think about it, the Burris appointment can look like the product of a similar strategy. Blago made it appear that he would appoint no one (through his lawyers) and let everyone relax a bit . . . then he hit them with an appointment. But his appointment was a lot cleaner than he personally was, and in attempting to bar Burris from the Senate, the Democratic leadership was really far outreaching their real power. Blago and Burris used that to their advantage, and now Blago has gotten a lot of distractions in the public eye, while Burris is about to be seated in the Senate so he can finally add that line to his mausoleum. In short, it worked like a charm. Blago was a boxer at one time, so I wonder if his competitive training resembled mine. The number one rule I was taught at every level of football was this: When you do something that works, keep doing it until the other side proves that they can stop it. If they never find a way to stop it, that's their tough luck.

3. Nothing personal, here, but a lot of the Representatives are blithering idiots. I know it was a historic event, so maybe there were some nerves, but excuses only go so far. Some of these people can barely string two sentences together. Some of them speak for two minutes or more without putting together one actual sentence, and when they're done, it still isn't clear what they meant. Often you can tell what you think they probably meant to say . . . but there's no way to be sure. A few years ago I spent one legislative term as a "reporter" for a company that kept a database of committee and floor discussions on bills of every kind. The stupidity of these people was only exceeded by the cupidity of these people back then, too, but I think time has softened my memories of them somewhat. A lot of the players are still the same, and none of them seem to have gotten smarter.
(Yes, some of them were articulate and focused . . . but they already know who they are, and I guarantee they know who the fruitcakes are, too.)