In a classic bit of staged political melodrama, Illinois’ proud Governor Blagojevich claimed he is “not guilty of any criminal wrongdoing” and vowed, “I will fight. I will fight. I will fight.” Terrific. Just what this state needs: more laughing stock material and ineffective state government. For those of us familiar with Blago and Illinois politics, the Gov’s statements came as no surprise — especially after he hired Chicago hotshot defense attorney, Edward Genson earlier in the week. The Illinois General Assembly already appears to be back-peddaling in their impeachment attempts, which move forward nonetheless. But there are two points that have really really raised our ire around here…
- Blago’s heinous use of Kipling in his statement
- The gall of the man in actually requesting state funds for his criminal defense expenses
As for the former, the quoted Kipling provide great insight into the man’s mania: It’s everyone else who’s wrong, not me… Kipling, much like Lincoln, is rolling over in his tomb. And while we can all hope a stray Rikki-Tikki-Tavi type mongoose wanders into the Blago home in Chicago to show the Gov the error of his ways, or maybe Blago could open up a copy of The Jungle Book and review the Law of the Pack (nothing in there about pay-for-play, we assure you), the reality is we’re looking at a long gruesome legal fight.
Regarding Blago’s request to have the taxpayers foot his legal bills — what more can you say? Maybe State Attorney General Lisa Madigan wasn’t far off in her assertions that the man can’t differntiate between what’s good for him and what his duties are to the state. He truly is ethically challenged. While the Feds are moving to block Blago’s use of campaign funds to pay his lawyers, you can bet he’ll come up with the money somehow.
Here’s the kicker: he really seems to feel he’s done nothing wrong. Or at least, he seems to think the Feds cannot prove he did anything wrong… So he will persevere and retain his position, to the detriment of millions in the midst of a recession. Truly, we can think of no better indictment of the corrupt Illinois-Chicago political culture.
For the record, we happen to agree with Blago that he should be afforded his right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty. It’s a pretty cool right — one worth fighting for. And Blago will have his day in court. That said, he no longer has the moral or political authority to serve as Governor of the State of Illinois. He has become completely ineffective, an embarassment to our state, and liability to his party. Let the man conduct his defense against the charges, but let him do so as a private citizen. We can only hope the bright lights of scrutiny and public opinion will flush the rest of the rats out in the open. Perhaps then we can begin to reform our corpulent and corrupt political culture in this state.
Until then, we can all continue to be entertained and amused by the Blago saga. Check out the Washington Post’s excellent animated reenactment.