Hamilton, Madison, and Jay

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Wednesday, December 10, 2008

David Freddoso's primer on Blagojevich

David Freddoso literally wrote the book on Barack Obama and in that book he outlined Obama's ties to the Chicago Machine. Today he goes over Blagojevich, and his arrogant drive to continue his corrupt ways:

Leverage is something that Illinois’s Democratic governor Rod Blagojevich understands. He does not understand restraint.

That is the impression one gets from his indictment, which was released Monday [PDF]. The 76-page document portrays Blagojevich as more than simply another man in public office seeking to “monetize” his relationships — to prepare for a cushy, well-paid future after leaving government. Most politicians do that, and nearly all of them do it in Illinois. Blagojevich is a special case simply because of his ambition. He had gotten totally out of control.

In the months leading up to his arrest yesterday, Gov. Blagojevich appears to have been a frantic and desperate man, fretting over his personal finances and his legal situation, as he was already under federal investigation. He was shaking down anyone and everyone who sought or needed something from government: Contractors. Sick children. The Chicago Cubs. Candidates for Senate. Even President-Elect Barack Obama.

“Nobody was surprised that Gov. Blagojevich would be indicted,” Republican state senate leader Christine Radogno told National Review Online. “But people are just scratching their heads at the arrogance of this, at the idea that he would talk so freely, with abandon, about selling a Senate seat when he knew the feds were all over him.”

Blagojevich’s attempt to sell Obama back his old Senate seat is the most unusual of his alleged crimes, but also the easiest. For the decision on Obama’s successor was the governor’s alone to make.

The Senate seat, left vacant by Obama’s post-election resignation, would be shopped around, as Blagojevich explained with shocking candor in his taped telephone conversations. He would sell it to the highest bidder, whether that was Obama (who had his own favored candidate) or any of four other potential senators. As Blagojevich put it himself, the Senate seat was “a f***ing valuable thing, you just don’t give it away for nothing.” The governor claimed he had one offer for campaign cash (from Senate Candidate Number Five).

As late as November 11, Blagojevich felt that Obama’s people were “not willing to give me anything except appreciation. F*** them.” The following day, he discussed another scheme involving Obama with an official from the Service Employees International Union (SEIU). He would appoint Obama’s choice to the seat in exchange for help from Obama’s “Warren Buffett types” in raising “$10, $15 million” so that he could leave office and land himself a lucrative job with a union-backed non-profit group. Blagojevich was eager to run this idea past an Obama advisor (from the context, it appears to be Rahm Emanuel, the President-Elect’s chief of staff).

It is unclear what sort of reception this offer got from Obama’s staff, if any. But Blagojevich also had a Plan B — to make himself a senator. “I’m going to keep this Senate option for me a real possibility, you know, and therefore I can drive a hard bargain,” he said. “You hear what I’m saying. And if I don’t get what I want and I’m not satisfied with it, then I’ll just take the Senate seat myself.”

There is far more to the indictment than the sale of a Senate seat. The indictment tells other recent tales of alleged political extortion as well. For example, Blagojevich was angered by a Chicago Tribune editorial in late September that called for his impeachment. At the urging of his wife, Blagojevich instructed his chief of staff, John Harris (who was also indicted) to solve the problem by threatening the owner of the Tribune Company with the loss of a public financing option in connection with the sale of Wrigley Field (the Tribune owns and is trying to sell the Chicago Cubs). The Tribune Company’s owner, Blagojevich said, could make things right by firing the members of the editorial board who had criticized him.Blagojevich is also accused in the indictment of threatening to rescind an $8 million state grant for Children’s Memorial Hospital in Chicago because one of the institution’s executives would not give a political contribution.

The 76-page criminal complaint against Blagojevich is strewn with the governor’s profanity from multiple taped conversations with aides, advisers, and others — all of them within the last year. Blagojevich comes off as a delusional man who believed, despite his already-ubiquitous reputation for corruption, that he could perhaps run for president in 2016.

Delusional? Possibly. Power-hungry? Corrupt? Definitely so. Blagojevich is in deep, deep trouble, and the only question that should be on everyone's mind is "will he sing to save his butt?" And we can see he's a piece of garbage. Extorting a children's hospital? Threatening the Chicago Tribune to get rid of those critical of him? This man rant the state like he was a king rather than elected official so that's why we say good riddance to him. But if I were the feds, I'd have Blagojevich under constant protection especially if he starts singing. Those that he has ties with could be quite vindictive, and wish to take him out before they go down with him.

Call me a conspiracy nut, but I can imagine the news report right now:

"Today indicted Illinois governor, Rod Blagojevich, was found dead at his home. There were no signs of a break-in so police are ruling this a suicide. It appears that Governor Blagojevich was making tea, and preparing a cheese and meat platter. Police speculate that he spilled the tea, slipped on it, and fell on the extremely sharp kitchen knife seventeen times. I'm Wolf Blitzer, and you're int he Situation Room."

I see the smile on your face. You know it's funny, and you could just picture a straight-faced Blitzer giving that report.

Publius II


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December 10, 2008 at 3:42 PM  

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