EXAMINER PUBLICATIONS – FEBRUARY 4, 2009
By Rich Trzupek
I had expected that I had written my last Rod Blagojevich column, but last week’s performance was so special – as in Special Olympics special – that it’s impossible to resist one more. So, barring Blago doing something even more bizarre, like setting himself on fire to prove his love for the people of Illinois (which shouldn’t be ruled out), this will be the last column about our former alleged governor.
Where to begin?
We shouldn’t have been surprised that Rockin’ Rod showed up at the last minute of his minute impeachment trial to make his “stop pickin’ on me!” speech. The scenario was pure Blago: no annoying questions that he might have to answer under oath, a chance to play the martyr role that he loves so well and, of course, one last time under the spotlight. It was everything a sociopath could hope for.
The best part of the speech, for me anyway, was when Blago asked the Senate to acquit him because, to paraphrase, “everybody does it”- “it” being trading political favors for donations and other personal considerations.
There is a grain of truth in that statement of course. Great liars usually wrap their fabrications around kernels of legitimacy. As my brother famously observed: “If you’re a Republican politician in Illinois, there’s a good chance that you’re on the take. If you’re an Illinois Democrat, it’s pretty much a given.”
Still there are limits. Perhaps I’m being overly optimistic, but I don’t think there are that many politicians in Springfield so jaded that they would attempt to horse-trade a seat in the United States Senate. An appointment on some local board? You betcha. This was a little different.
What did Blago hope to accomplish with this argument? It sure wasn’t designed to win him any sympathy votes. As amazingly stupid as Blago is, not even he is dumb enough to think that some senator was going to vote to acquit and explain afterwards: “You know what? I realized that he was right! We’re all a bunch of crooks.”
Like everything else the guy says or does, the “everybody does it” comment was just another shot at his “enemies”. If he was going down, he was going to take as many people with him as possible.
The speech that Blago made from his home after the show was finally over was a fitting end to the self-centered career of a self-absorbed man.
He recounted all the “wonderful” things that he had done for the “people of Illinois” that he purports to care ever so much about. All that wonderful free stuff. Free mammograms. Free health care. Free flu shots – well, almost anyway.
Listening to that pile of horse puckey, the urge to shout out the salient question: “At what cost?!” was almost unbearable. Yes Blago gave away a lot of services and set up a ton of programs. But free? No. I’m sorry. No. Illinois will paying for Blago’s largesse for years to come. Our kids will pay for it, and quite possibly their kids too.
Not quite sure if Illinois Democrats will pay for it, metaphorically speaking. My guess would be they won’t, since: a) Bush Derangement Syndrome probably has a couple of years of life left in it, so anything wrong with state government will automatically be Dubya’s fault until – oh – 2011 or so, and b) the Republican party in Illinois is just a mess.
Reading how one Illinois Democrat spokesman blamed Blago on the GOP was a truly surreal part of impeachment week. Apparently, the minority party somehow “enabled” the ex-guv, at least according to this guy. Ohhhh-kayyy… And the party that supported him through two elections, and that controlled both houses of the General Assembly has no responsibility for the fiasco at all apparently. Rrrrrrright.
But the topper, the most symbolic moment of all, was when new governor Pat Quinn was asked how much time the former governor and his people had spent preparing for the transition. The answer should not come as no surprise: none. Blago just walked away.
He had no problem flying to New York to do the talk show circuit in a vain attempt to save his job. But to prepare for a smooth transition of power – something that would have actually helped the people of Illinois, whom he assured us are his one and only concern? Well, that little task proved impossible for him to accomplish.
It was the fitting finale to a career that was about Blago, first, last and always, from beginning to end. The man used us. All of us. He was the worst governor in the history of the state, and that’s a remarkable statement.
May we never see his like again.