The staggering development of soon-to-be former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich’s apparent corruption, charges so blazen and blatant they would make “Lincoln roll over in his grave,” to paraphrase U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald (yes, that very same one in the Valerie Plame investigation; he is an equal opportunity angel of justice), is not staggering because a Chicago pol has some skeletons in his closet.
It is staggering because by all accounts, the Inanimate Carbon Rod, a Democrat, is quite possibly one of the dumbest men ever to hold elective office if all of the accusations hold up in court. He is accused of pay-for-play tactics that, per the FBI’s Robert Grant, shocked even the most hardened and cynical of agents.
Here is a basic laundry list of the most audacious alleged crimes contained in the indictment (PDF file):
- Schemed to sell the appointment of President-Elect Barack Obama’s Senate seat to the highest bidder in exchange for either a high paying position with a non-profit or a labor union, a placement for his wife Patricia on corporate boards, campaign funds, or an ambassadorship or cabinet post (he wanted to be Secretary of Health and Human Services, apparently)
- Threatened to put a halt to any public help to the Tribune Co. in selling Wrigley Field if they did not fire members of the Chicago Tribune’s editorial board who wrote unflattering portraits of him
- Wanting to hold up $8 million dollars for Chicago’s Children’s Memorial Hospital because its administrator didn’t cough up $50K for his re-election campaign
The last one is what really makes it art. Earlier in the day, I thought it boring, quid-pro-quo crap; there was no particular skullduggery that made it stand out, but as soon as you get the health and care of kids involved, there’s a new level of arrogance there that would make Karl Rove smile from ear to ear, no matter what the political party.
But morons like the Inaminate Carbon Rod always get caught, and note that Obama and every other Democratic politician who wants to continue to have a career kept the fuck away from Blago starting in the past year, when it was well known that the feds were looking at him after his cronies got busted — because everyone knew he would screw himself thanks to his own hubris.
It’s become clear that the ICR and his Magical Floating Hair had no friends in Springfield or anywhere else — he had refused to move into the Governor’s mansion and the state House Speaker, Michael Madigan, also the head of the state Dems (and father to Attorney General Lisa) hates his guts, as does every other Democratic elected official.
It’s easy to hide dirty dealings in politics when you have friends and know when to shut the fuck up. When nobody wants to be seen with you (he was the only Dem governor not invited to speak at the national convention) and you go out of your way to invite the investigators to come after you, that is a combination of hubris and stupidity that will get you thrown in federal prison sooner than later.
Consider the Chicago machine that still exists, despite the protests to the contrary from current Mayor Richard M. Daley — they know how to hide the bones because they haven’t alienated anyone or burned someone who matters. If you have read The Godfather (and not just seen the movie), think of the Daleys as the Corleone family and Blagojevich as Al Capone as expressed in Mario Puzo’s novel. Don Corleone looks down on Capone and the rest of the Chicago mobsters as savages, after killing two men sent by Capone to help Salvatore Maranzano:
The Don held the Capones in small esteem as stupid, obvious cutthroats. His intelligence informed him that Capone had forfeited all political influence because of his public arrogance and the flaunting of his criminal wealth. The Don knew, in fact was positive, that without political influence, without the camouflage of society, Capone’s world, and others like it, could be easily destroyed. He knew Capone was on the path to destruction.
Oddly fitting, no?