Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Blagojevich indicted

And you thought Eliot Spitzer had a lock on Scandal Of The Year.

When you're corrupt even by Chicago standards...

I'd give anything to be an Illinois statehouse reporter today. The dialogue from the Rod Blagojevich wiretaps sounds like an over-the-top mob movie script. It's got the plot, and it's got more F-bombs than a scene between Joe Pesci and Samuel L. Jackson.

But you couldn't sell this script. I can't decide what's more incredible: Blagojevich's brazenness (“I want to make money,” “It is not coming for free”), his disrespect for Obama (“For nothing? F*** him.”), his stupidity, or his ego. He actually fantasized aloud about running for president in 2016.

Money, power, corruption, bad guys, good guys... it's got all the good drama elements except sex and murder. I might be a biased Democrat, but in this case I love a good story more. And believe it or not there's good news for the Dems:

1) This came out BEFORE the appointment was made.

2) The scandal appears to be contained to the Blagojevich inner circle. The entire Illinois Democratic power structure is cutting and running as fast as they can. The legislature's reconvening Monday, ten days before Christmas, to gear up for impeachment (because Blagojevich doesn't seem like a guy who'll just resign) and to change the Senate appointment law to a special election. Best Illinois statehouse insider stuff is at Capitol Fax Blog.

Most importantly:

3) Team Obama is untainted, as the Feds went out of the way to state. Indeed, according to some reports Rahm Emanuel pushed to get this thing speeded up after Blago tried to shake them down: The "Candidate 1" of the indictment is clearly Valerie Jarrett, Obama's preferred choice for the seat. The charges specifically say "she" and "took herself out," and indicate that the quid pro quo was never considered.

To quote Blago: "They’re not willing to give me anything except appreciation,” Blagojevich told his advisers. He didn’t want to give this “motherf***er his senator.” (With the MF here referring to his home-state, home-town, President-elect of the United States.)

The big guessing game surrounds the identity of Senate Candidate 5. Tammy Duckworth and Jan Schakowsky are ruled out by the gender pronouns.:
"Though (prosecutor) Fitzgerald warned us not to cast aspersions based on Blagojevich's version of other people's words, this is the damning quote: “We were approached ‘pay to play.’ That, you know, he’d raise me 500 grand. An emissary came. Then the other guy would raise a million, if I made him (Senate Candidate 5) a Senator.”

The speculation centers on Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr., who has been openly lusting after the seat since long before Obama won the presidency, or state Senate president Emil Jones, widely seen as a "placeholder" who would not run for a full term in `10.

Republicans will try to suck SEIU into it, but that's grasping at straws: "Obama, Stern, Change to Win... didn't do a thing wrong. The extent of the unions' involvement is that Blagojevich and his delusional friends hatched some insane plots on the phone, and Andy Stern had a conversation where he said, 'Yeah, um, sure... I'll take that one back.'"

And before you gloat, Republicans, remember: The ethics cloud has been over Blago almost from the day he took office, yet two years ago, even with a Green pulling 10 percent, you not only couldn't beat him, you didn't even 40 percent. But Illinois Republicans are so hapless, I'll bet they run four time loser Jim Oberweis in the Senate special.

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