A Heartbreaking Work Of Staggering Idiocy

inanimatecarbonrodThe 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.

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don’t give me that do-goody-good bullshit.

Some of you may be familiar with one Rep. William Jefferson of Louisiana’s 2nd District, recently re-elected by his New Orleans constituents, and currently under investigation by the FBI for taking bribes from a construction company. The most notable part of the whole deal was finding $90K in his freezer.

Prior to last November’s elections, Jefferson had been punted off the House Ways and Means Committee by then Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi after the $90K find was made public, in order to clean house ethically. Lousiana elections are run under the run-off system, so Jefferson won his runoff against another black Democrat, Karen Carter, endorsed by his state’s Democratic Party. And with the swearing-in of the 110th Congress, Mr. Jefferson has been welcomed back with open arms by the Congressional Black Caucus:

WASHINGTON (CNN) — On the same day that the 110th Democratic-led Congress convenes with a plan to immediately pass lobbyist and ethics reforms, the Congressional Black Caucus Thursday gave a standing ovation to Rep. William Jefferson, the Louisiana Democrat who faces an FBI probe into bribery allegations.

“The haters… and negative nabobs…the people who spoke against him couldn’t prevail against the people who spoke for him,” Dr. Michael Eric Dyson, master of ceremonies for the CBC’s celebratory event, said Thursday morning.

You stay classy, CBC. It’s a shame; I liked Dyson despite his long-windedeness (a common quality of academic types; you get the same problems with Cornel West) because he took good, smart whacks at ignorant Black elites like Bill Cosby and his stupid theories, blaming the poor. The theory as to why someone like Jefferson gets re-elected has a lot to do with perceived persecution: his district consists heavily of Katrina survivors, and they’ve received little to no attention, and their representative gets accused of bribe-taking (plus, Louisiana elects corrupt bastards at all times, black and white). But how do you ignore, literally, cold, hard cash, never mind Jefferson’s using the National Guard to get his stuff when Katrina hit?

The CBC has a double standard: it welcomes Jefferson with open arms, but willingly forgot Rep. Cynthia McKinney existed.