December 11, 2008
The Blago Saga BeginsBy Richard Baehr
Last summer, my wife opened up the garage door one day, and in the alley, found a score or more of actors (extras) in 1930 period dress. They were awaiting the next scene in the filming of a new movie about bank robber John Dillinger, set to hit the big screen next summer.
Dillinger came to mind when U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald used the words "crime spree" to describe the behavior of Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich, who I think, is now unlikely to become America's first Serbian American President.
I suspect that no Governor has ever before conducted a crime spree, with the possible exception of Louisiana Governor Edwin Edwards. And in Edwards' case, his behavior seemed to add to his appeal, in part because there was a certain joie de vivre about Edwards' stealing, totally lacking in the case of our graceless (expletive deleted) Governor.
Perhaps the most shocking part of the wiretaps revealed so far was a sequence where Blago talked of needing to get out of the Illinois Governors' chair so as to avoid impeachment, and instead get to the US Senate, which would also serve to position him better for a 2016 Presidential run. How do you describe someone so delusional? A few words that have been tossed around the last two days are revealing-sociopath, psychopath, and dumb.
Yes, a Democrat can be dumb. This last term probably stings the most for my southpaw friends, who seem to take great pleasure in mocking the intelligence of Republican elected officials. Dumb trumps degrees, as one should have concluded from having observed the behavior or New York's former Governor Eliot Spitzer, who is wall to wall Ivy .
The good news for Illinois is that this story has allowed our state to advance to the BCS championship for the year (Blockbuster Corruption Scandals) against New York State, which qualified with impressive performances by Congressman Charles Rangel, Governor Spitzer, and former Congressman Vito Fossella. The BCS standings in this case, are based on the political writer's poll, and computer rankings, which take into account strength of scandal.
It is safe to assume, I think, that other Illinois officials will soon be questioned about a few things related to this case. Now that we know that Congressman Jesse Jackson, Jr, is candidate number 5, we must wonder which supporter of his (unknown to Jackson, Jr., of course) was willing to raise 500K to get him picked, and which other supporter was considering springing for a million?
Predictably, the Illinois US Senate seat was auctioned for a while on Ebay' til they caught on. I think this would have been fair, and likely to determine a true market price for the seat in a more transparent fashion. The question is who should get the proceeds?
Can Henry Paulson use TARP funds to bid for or buy the seat for himself?
President-elect Obama may also have some explaining to do. An interview with campaign advisor David Axelrod a few weeks after the presidential election stated that Obama met with Blagojevich to discuss the seat. The transcripts reveal that Blagojevich or his aides had spoken to Obama people about the Senate seat, and in particular Blago's desire for cash or political spoils.
Obama's statement Tuesday that he has had no contact with Blagojevich about the Senate seat rings false. Who was Obama's representative who discussed Senate appointment options with the Governor? Rahm Emanuel? Is there any chance that Emanuel, or some other official would discuss such matters with Blagojevich and his team without informing Obama?
Obama has largely escaped any taint of his having spent many years in the Illinois, Cook County and Chicago political culture. That culture is rotten to the core -- with patronage jobs leading to bloated government payrolls, pay to play at every level, and a history of extraordinarily incompetent and corrupt public officials, including two generations of the Stroger family, Blagojevich, George Ryan, and Emil Jones; people who are elected and often re-elected by the seemingly un-offended citizens of the state.
Barack Obama has played ball with many of these people to help advance his political career -- Mayor Daley, Blagojevich (Obama was a key campaign aide in Blago's first run for Governor in 2002), Todd and John Stroger, and Emil Jones, his political godfather in the Illinois Senate.
I have a theory that Obama became a Senator for one primary reason -- Mayor Daley considered him the only viable threat to unseat him as Mayor, and so Daley worked to get him out of the city. Richard Daly considers the Chicago Mayor's job as one of greater importance that that of any US Senator, and probably the Presidency as well.
So he sent his loyal aide David Axelrod to work with Obama in his 2004 Senate race. Is it coincidence that the Chicago Tribune, Axelrod's former employer, was the paper that released very damaging stories, which served to destroy the campaigns of Obama's two toughest foes in that race -- first Democrat Blair Hull, and then Republican Jack Ryan?
Now Obama can serve Daley in a most important fashion -- by helping Chicago win the 2016 Olympic Games. How many African countries do you think will be voting to give the games to Rio or Tokyo?
Jake Tapper of ABC News, one of the few political journalists who did not slobber himself over Barack Obama this year, says the Obama Blago connection is deeper than the President elect would have you believe. On the other side of the journalistic integrity ledger, we have the Boston Globe, which either does not know that Rod Blagojevich is a Democrat, or thinks it unimportant to reveal that fact.
Richard Baehr is chief political correspondent of American Thinker.