It's 'All in the Family' in Chicago politics
Patricia (Patti) Mell Blagojevich, otherwise known as the First Lady of Illinois by virtue of her husband, Governor Rod Blagojevich (D), admitted in a recent soft profile in Chicago Parent Magazine, All About the Children, what she doesn't want for her two daughters ages 5 and 12.
"I don't want to see them go into politics. It's a rough-and-tumble life. Politics in Chicago is like a blood sport,'' says Blagojevich, 43, daughter of longtime Chicago Alderman Richard Mell and wife, since 1990, of Gov. Rod Blagojevich.
"It's mean,'' she says of the political arena. "It's not really anything you want your kids to get involved in. We do a lot of good things for people, but sometimes the cost is too high.''
Some of the "good things for people" included
In 2005, Illinois, with the first lady as spokeswoman, became the first state in the nation to offer "All Kids,'' described as an affordable, comprehensive health insurance vehicle, that works with schools and hospitals to pre-register families. A total 1.4 million children are enrolled. In 2004, Blagojevich spearheaded the Illinois Pediatric Vision Initiative and made Illinois the first state in the union to target Amblyopia, also known as "lazy eye''-the most common cause of preventable vision loss.
But this costs money. Lots of it. From taxes. And other sources. And when the State of Illinois reimburses the hospitals - say $8,000,000 to the very fine Childrens Memorial in Chicago for all these "good things" - there are certain high costs that go along with it. In their complaint against him the FBI allegedly overheard the governor threatening to withhold the hospital's money unless its chief executive coughed up $50,000 to Blagojevich's campaign chest.
Governing is a high pressure job, taking its toll on families. So Patti Blagojevich said
the family copes by "doing a lot of cocooning.''
"We rent old movies and sit on the couch and watch. My husband likes to take the girls out and to Cubs games.
The Chicago Cubs play their home games at Wrigley Field; the team is owned by the parent company of the newspaper the Chicago Tribune which published investigative reports on Blagojevich and ran editorials calling for his impeachment. Countering, Blagojevich threatened to impede the sale of Wrigley Field, which the Tribune wants to do, unless the editorial writers were fired. His wife agreed. "Hold up that [bleeping] Cubs [bleeping] ... [bleeping] them." the complaint quotes her.
Twenty years from now, Blagojevich sees herself and the governor "retired, with a nest egg, traveling a lot.''
"I'm looking forward to the day he's not in politics,'' she says.
The day when they're retired and he's not in politics is probably coming sooner and differently than she expected; the other dreams, probably not. And as for their daughters, sadly they'll suffer most directly because Chicago politics are beyond mean and a blood sport. They involve more than the direct combatants; the collateral destruction for so many, in money and spirit, is needlessly much too high.