As a person who will always consider himself an Illinoisan and a resident of greater Chicagoland no matter where life takes him, I have a very simple request: can we elect one Governor who doesn't end up under a Federal indictment? One? Just one. I'm not asking a lot.
I have shockingly little to say about Governor Blagojevich's indictment that I did not express two months ago in my discussion of what happens when stupid people end up in positions of great authority ("Tards in Power" 10/22/08). The type of corruption so readily associated with Chicago and Cook County is in reality the same anywhere in the country – albeit more prevalent in some locales. The predictability of stupidity should never be underestimated. Be they Chicagoans or Alaskans, morons in power inevitably treat public office as an infomercial-like cash making scheme. Government budgets become their personal checkbooks, their powers and influence used exclusively for their personal enrichment.
Any reasonably intelligent individual can deduce 1001 entirely legal ways to parlay political power into personal wealth. This is why the vast majority of elected officials never end up like William Jefferson, Duke Cunningham, or Blago. They are smart enough to know how the game is played and they have tact. They line their pockets, but they line their pockets like smooth, high-rolling, Oceans 11-style thieves. Blagojevich, who is plainly an idiot, can't come up with a plan better than smashing store windows with a baseball bat and running away with whatever he can carry.
Read the indictment. It is absolutely devoid of any hint of ass-covering or avoiding the explicit. There are no oblique Sopranos-style "So, did you talk to that guy about that thing? Think he'll play ball?" conversations. Instead we see "So how much will (name withheld) pay my wife in exchange for the Senate appointment?" Instead we see a man who brings a mental knife to the intellectual gunfight. Instead we see someone who is either too stupid to realize that he's violating the law or too stupid to avoid being so goddamn obvious about it. Maybe both.
For the record, I'll bet a large sum of money on "Senate candidate #5" being Emil Jones. It is not Jesse Jackson Jr. The latter's hatred for all things Blagojevich make it nearly impossible for me to imagine him responding to being hit up for a bribe with "Sure, I'll see what I can do for you! I play ball." Sorry. Not happening. Jones, on the other hand, is almost as stupid as Blagojevich and many times more corrupt. He also has a history with the Governor. #2 is obviously Lisa Madigan. #1 is probably one of Obama's Senate staffers. No idea on the others.
I hope Hot Rod likes prison meatloaf, because he is going down hard. There will be no plea bargains, no powerful white guy's Get Out of Jail Free card. As I noted during the Michael Vick fiasco last year, Federal prosecutors operate on an entirely different level than their state and local counterparts. The reason they have a 95% conviction rate is not that the Federal courts are biased – it is because they don't issue indictments until they have enough evidence to convict the suspect ten times over. Your local county DA has to fly by the seat of his pants, indicting car thieves and burglars with the merest suggestion of evidence. Not so with the G-Men. They have a mile-long trail of evidence and it's not limited to the Governor's poorly-chosen words.
No, there will be no "corrupt man beats the charges thanks to a corrupt system" ending to this story. They are going to make an example of the him. It's not fair, since certainly there are dozens of powerful elected officials who do exactly what Hot Rod has done. Since the law can't punish everyone, history shows that the system inevitably brings the forces of retribution to bear on the individual or individuals who are dumb enough to get caught.