My governor is a dolt.

That’s what I thought last night, as I typed out some notes for this post. Now, I have to amend that:

My governor is a felon.

Can he even read?

Can he even read?

If you’re an Illinoisan or a political junkie, today’s arrest of our beloved gov, Rod Blagojevich, is stunning. And yet not. And certainly a long time in coming. I know, it’s too soon to label him a felon, as I just did, but given the track record of the attorney crawling up his ass, (Patrick Fitzgerald, widely recognized as one of the good guys in law enforcement in Illinois and the country), and the stench that has been wafting around Blago for so long, this conviction has gotta be a slam dunk.

My initial feelings about Rod’s doltish qualities stemmed from another of the simply ludicrous comments he has made in the years we’ve been here. In the past week or so, word came out that one of his former aides had turned on him and worn a wire during meetings, part of the ongoing investigation into “pay-to-play” politics in IL (it already snagged former Blago fundraiser Tony Rezko, whose conviction created some awkward moments for the pres-elect, given his and Rezko’s past cozy ties).

Yesterday, the gov gave a statement in which he indignantly questioned the morality of someone taping him, though he had nothing to hide. I think he said something like, “Bring on the sunshine.” What really got me though, was how he said the recordings were like Watergate, with people “sneakily” taping things. Uh, Rod: In Watergate, Nixon taped himself, because,  well, I don’t know. I wanted to say it stemmed from his megalomania; I’ll have to see Frost Nixon, I guess, to find out. Anyway, in your case, Blago, we have the government using secret tapings to catch a crook. You. No comparision to Tricky Dick, see? Except in you and he both being crooks. You dolt.

I just listened to part of Fitzgerald’s press conference explaining the arrest. Not sure if the complaint has been published yet – ah, just got it, but have not read it all yet (78 pages). But from what I gather, the real biggie here is that the gov was looking for money and favors from someone in return for choosing the replacement for Obama’s senate seat. Along with Blago looking for money and a no-work job for four years from a union. Oh, yeah, and there was something about him trying to extort the Chicago Tribune too. Unbelievable.

To show you the arrogance or utter cluelessness of this man: These alleged actions come after the feds have been investigating corruption in Illinois politics for years, not counting Rezko. After the previous gov, Republican George Ryan, was convicted for various nefarious acts. His possible pardon by a departing Dubya has been a hot topic here, especially since Obama’s Senate colleague (and fellow Democrat), Dick Durbin, has spoken out for it. See, the pols here look after each other, no matter the party. But let’s see how many of them plead for Rod’s clemency to President Obama. I don’t think there is a lawmaker on either side of the aisle who likes him. And respect? The guy’s antics the last few years have bombarded that,  if there were any to begin with. Here’s a recent look at his “popularity,” though with a February 2008 date, you can assume he was even less liked by the time today’s news broke.

I knew nothing about Blago when we got here, except that he campaigned as a reformer and his hair was laughably perfect. I soon learned he was all talk, no action, and often deluded. As the hints of corruption began to swirl, he also became more imperious, shutting himself off from the people and the press. He battled leaders from his own party, he alienated voters by living in Chicago instead of the governor’s mansion in Springfield (then used taxpayers’ money to fly back and forth between the two cities during special sessions of the legislature), he took a 107-0 drubbing on a proposed tax increase and thought he still had a chance to get his way. The list of political and personal shortcoming goes on and on, and as a transplant here, I’m sure I don’t have everything quite right, all the nuances. But you get the picture.

Now, we have Attorney Fitzgerald calling the allegation against the gov “appalling” and much more. Evidently, the Feds tapped the gov’s phone lines along with using the wire. It seems at some point the Tribune was going to run a story that might have exposed some of the investigations; the editors agreed to an FBI request not to publish everything they knew. For the paper of record here to do that, there must be some real juicy stuff at work. And the Trib realized that getting a crook was more important than getting a scoop. A miracle.

As we prepare to make our move back to CT, I see some political symmetry at work. The day we arrived in Chicago back in 2004, former CT governor John Rowland went off to serve a prison sentence for his own scandal – getting a free deck added to a summer cottage. OK, it was a little bit more than that, but compared to Blago and some of the others out here, he was a political piker. Now, as we prepare to go back to CT, we will be seeing another gov enmeshed in the legal system for all the wrong reasons. And given the connections to Obama some of the players have, I’m sure the haters will try to drag the new president into the fray. Boy, I hope he is clean on all this. But I gotta think he’s smart enough to have stayed as far away as possible from a dolt like Rod.

Today was a crummy morning in Chicago – rainy, cold, a grey that almost seemed as dark as dusk. But when I heard the news about Blago I thought, “Finally. Some real sunshine.” Let’s see just what it reveals.


~ by mburgan on December 9, 2008.

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