Who Outed Blagojevich? by Mike Gold
Brainiac On Banjo #97
Casablanca has given us one of the all-time favorite bits of movie dialog. When Captain Renault is ordered by the Nazis to close down Rick’s Place, he does so under the pretext of gambling. A long-time frequenter of the joint, Renault is asked why. Renault replies “I’m shocked, shocked to find that gambling is going on in here!” Just then, a croupier hands Renault a boatful of cash and says “Your winnings, sir.” The Captain thanks the staffer politely, and then orders everybody out of the joint.
Much like the hubbub over Illinois’ moronic governor, Rod Blagojevich, when he was indicted last week for influence peddling. People are outraged that Blago was selling the senate seat opened by the election of Barack Obama. “Lincoln would roll over in his grave,” we were told.
Now, I’ll make my nod to the too-self-righteous-to-breathe. It’s wrong. On so many levels. Really, really wrong. I mean it. Okay? Happy?
It’s also been standard operating procedure for as long as the United States of America have been united states in America. History has shown us the practice goes back to the Roman senate. Probably well before that. So let’s not be so quick to reach for the paper bags. It’s a little hypocritical to condemn a guy for trading a senate seat for personal gain when you and your buddies have been bought and paid for by thousands of lobbyists.
“Lincoln would roll over in his grave,” my ass. The big political leaders controlled all the jobs, and they weren’t interested in simply handing the ripest plums out to the most qualified candidates. Why do you think Boss Pendergast anointed Harry Truman? Can you explain wacky New York City Mayor Jimmy Walker (or a hundred others) without using the phrase “Tammany Hall” in the sentence? Ever hear of Huey Long? Boss Tweed? There’s nothing parochial about this fool Blagojevich; it is not politics the Chicago way. Chicagoans like Anton Cermak, Jacob Arvey and Richard J. Daley were very smart guys. Lincoln isn’t rolling over, he’s laughing his bony ass off.
Like most politicians caught red-handed, Blago’s going down for hubris in the first-degree. The man’s so stupid he discussed all this stuff on his telephones when he knew he was under federal investigation. This sucker didn’t even watch The Sopranos, for crying out loud.
The people of Illinois are better off without such a stupid megalomaniac at the helm of state. But let’s not go acting like this fool invented Original Sin. He’s just behind the times.
Criminally behind the times, as it turns out. And that’s kind of nice.
By the way… just who do you think was responsible for outing Blagojevich? According to my Chicago sources – and I’ve got the print and broadcast journalism background to have solid Chicago sources – it was one of his neighborhood’s congressmen. An outgoing congressman named Rahm Emanuel. You know, Barack Obama’s incoming chief of staff Rahm Emanuel.
The Obama Team’s reasoning is quite simple. Obama was a senator from Illinois. Blagojevich is (as of this writing) governor of Illinois. The Right is going to imply some sort of connection and then exploit it as best they can. That’s what they do, truth be damned. I half expect them to tie Bill Ayers into the conspiracy. It’s better that Emanuel got ahead of the story long before the Inauguration. Before New Year’s. Before Christmas. Before the collapse of the American car industry. Absent of any damning evidence – and U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald said Obama played no part in any of this – he’ll be out of this scandal at least four news cycles before he becomes president.
To be fair, Chicago Tribune owner Sam Zell, himself a victim of a Blago shakedown, has also been mentioned as a contributor to Blagojevich’s downfall, as have a few others who this idiot tried to muscle. But Obama and Emanuel had the most to lose by inaction, and the most to gain by cold-cocking this incompetent fool.
And that, my dear friends, is politics the Chicago way.