And the Winner is…

Published: January 26, 2009

By Jim Lichtman
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Nixon had Watergate, Clinton had Lewinsky, Cheney his “Scooter” Libby.  Now, we have Rod Blagojevich who seems determined to turn hubris into a new category at the Academy Awards.

For your consideration:  “They’re just hanging me… [They’re] trampling the constitution… The good guy is up against the establishment.”

However, when Illinois state senators begin their impeachment trial today based on the governor’s arrest last month on federal corruption charges, the lead will be absent!

Where will Mr. Blagojevich be?

He’s scheduled interviews with Good Morning AmericaTheView and Larry King.

“This year’s list of Academy Award nominees,” The Chicago Trib. wrote (Jan. 25), “excludes a remarkable performance in the category of Best Martyr…

“His strategy, as transparent as a pay-to-play bribe, is to discredit the proceeding… If the process is unfair, how can it fairly judge the prosecuted, persecuted man? Hence his flailing media appearances intended to distract senators and citizens alike from this straightforward question: Shall Rod Blagojevich be terminated as governor and barred from ever holding public office in this state?”

“The heart and soul of this has been a struggle of me against the system,” Blagojevich said in his best Jimmy Stewart.

This one is brilliant.  This one’s a shoe-in for my end-of-the-year top-ten list.  Blagojevich shouldn’t get a best acting Oscar.  He should receive a Lifetime Achievement award for the most transparent phony in the last 50 years of American politics.

“I am being denied fundamental fairness and due process.  Whatever happened to the presumption of innocence?” the embattled governor said looking a little like Henry Fonda in The Oxbow Incident.

“Matt Murphy,” the Wall Street Journal said (Jan. 23), “a state Senator who was on the Senate panel that made the rules, said the governor was engaging in the ‘theater of the absurd.’ He said the idea of ‘presumption of innocence’ doesn’t apply to an impeachment proceeding.  We’ve just got to determine if the allegations warrant his removal.’”

And the allegations were brought, not by the state’s senators, but by U.S. Attorney Patrick J. Fitzgerald.

The online source, Wikipedia reported in a heavily footnoted article: “According to a criminal complaint filed in US District Court, Blagojevich is accused of conspiracy to commit mail fraud and wire fraud, as well as soliciting bribes. It is specifically alleged that he attempted to benefit financially from his sole authority to fill the U.S. Senate seat vacated by President-elect Barack Obama.

“[An] affidavit [in the complaint] says that in exchange for the Senate appointment, Blagojevich sought to be appointed as Secretary of Health and Human Services, Secretary of Energy, or ambassador, or alternatively, that he could receive a lucrative job offer from a union in return for designating a pro-union appointee.

“If he could receive nothing for the seat, the indictment says, Blagojevich considered appointing himself, to position himself for a 2016 presidential run and to give himself increased resources to mount any potential legal defense.”

I’m for fairness and the presumption of innocence, but Mr. Blagojevich has failed to respond to the charges because he doesn’t believe in the process; a process that he seemed to believe in when he was elected governor.

His scripted solution:  Fly to New York and make the rounds on the talk-show circuit selling his version of the truth.

Of course, as it happens in all legal thrillers, this one comes with its own interesting twist.  Ed Genson, announced that he is withdrawing as the governor’s lawyer.

“I never require a client to do what I say,” Genson said, “but I do require them to at least listen to what I say.”

Apparently, the only person the governor is listening to these days is his own script.

Me, I can’t wait for the scene where a blustering Blagojevich looks squarely into the camera and, in his best Jack Nicholson, says, “You can’t handle the truth!”





  1. Author

    There was always something in the way this guy carried himself and spoke that oozed arrogance. Then the fact that he wouldn’t step down as Governor? Unbelievable. I remember this story and how it disgusted me.

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