zenpundit.com » Blog Archive » The Chicago Way is Incompatible with Gravitas

The Chicago Way is Incompatible with Gravitas

I think most people familiar with Illinois politics expected that eventually some kind of Chicago landmine was going to go off under President-elect Barack Obama – it’s just that few people expected it might happen before the 20th of January.

Likewise, I think most informed watchers expected that Governor Rod Blagojevich (D-IL), perhaps the most unpopular pol in Illinois history, would follow his predecessor, disgraced ex-governor George Ryan (R-IL) to prison someday, few of us anticipated the depths of the grotesque quality of Blagojevich’s grasping venality that would have made Alderman Tom Keane blush. Ryan at least didn’t talk like a thug when he raked in his small-time bribes ( have to wonder if Ryan’s chances for a presidential pardon just improved or gotten worse?).

The real political trouble for Obama can be read here in a post at “The Smoking Gun” regarding today’s indctment:

” ….Blagojevich, 51, and his chief of staff, John Harris, were arrested this morning on political corruption charges. While the affidavit does not specifically name the six prospective Senate candidates discussed by Blagojevic, Harris, and the governor’s aides, it appears that several are easily identified. “Senate Candidate 1” is Jarrett. “Senate Candidate 2” is Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan. Emil Jones, an Illinois state legislator, is “Senate Candidate 5.” And “Senate Candidate 6” appears to be J.P. Pritzker, a wealthy Chicago businessman. Additionally, Rahm Emanuel, the incoming White House chief of staff, is referred to in the affidavit as “President-elect Advisor.” (21 pages)”

Aside from Lisa Madigan, Attorney-General of Illinois and daughter of Springfield powerbroker Speaker Michael Madigan, this list is composed of Obama’s  Best Friend, Political Godfather, a campaign Mega-Donor and his future White House Chief of Staff. Holy Cats!

I think this is what some folks used to quaintly refer to as ” The Sleaze Factor“.

12 Responses to “The Chicago Way is Incompatible with Gravitas”

  1. Mithras+5 Says:

    Wow, you read Beyerstein? I don’t even read Beyerstein.

    You should know that the word on the street is that Emanuel burned Blago (if I may call him that) to the feds. Not to say Obama’s people are squeaky clean, but I would love to have been in on that meeting, wouldn’t you?

  2. zen Says:

    Hi Mithras,
    I would credit Rahm Emanuel with being smart enough to know Blago ( he’s been called worse) is the reverse King Midas of illinois politics and ruthless enough to drop a dime on him. What amazes me is that no cronies of Daley were on Blagojevich’s short list when Lisa Madigan made it ( the governor and Speaker Madigan are political enemies – but then again, Blago is also at odds with his father-in-law, the powerful Alderman Dick Mell, his original patron. The Governor has managed to alienate virtually everyone with any influence or power in this state).

  3. Adrian Says:

    So, Blago refusing to name Obama’s choice as temp-Senator means they are somehow close?  Blago being pissed about Obama refusing to pay a bribe means Obama is sleazy?  I don’t follow Chicago politics, but your reasoning makes no sense.

  4. zen Says:

    Hi Adrian,
    I take it you read the indictment as good P.R. for the Obama transition team ?
    Assuming all of the above figures were in political  horsetrading discussions with Blago – Axelrod said there was contact until today’s "correction"- they will have to testify unless the governor takes a plea bargain. And be cross-examined. How’d that Plame trial work for the Bush administration politically ?

  5. Lexington Green Says:

    If anything remotely equivalent had happened with Bush, the media feeding frenzy would have been a sight to see.  The imputation of guilt by association would be a given, taken for granted, inevitable.
    But in this golden new era of hope, the One gets an assumption of pristine political morals, just because of his rich, soothing speaking voice and the warmth of his kindly gaze.  Or something like that.  At the heart of this cloud of smoke, there is, just this once, no fire.
    The whole Illinois political clown show is the funniest game on earth, at least until the unfunded pensions can’t be paid, the state’s bond rating drops below Uganda’s, and the whole place sinks into Visigothic barbarism. 
    Until then, it is fun to watch the whole rest of the USA getting a taste of the road show version, now playing in Washington until 2012, at least. 

  6. Royal Savage Says:

    I’m sure they’re all "just guys that live in Obama’s neighborhood". Nothing to see here…move along.

  7. Adrian Says:

    Zen,The Plame trial went bad for the Bush Administration because the Bush administration was accused of wrongdoing, and because the person on trial was a member of the Bush administration.  Blago is not one of Obama’s advisers and nobody in the Obama team is accused of doing anything wrong.  It’d be one thing if they were BFF or something.  But nobody is even trying to argue that’s true.  There’s nothing there.

  8. Lexington Green Says:

    "There’s nothing there."
    We don’t know that yet.

  9. Dave Schuler Says:

    I don’t believe that Obama is directly implicated in any of this but it’s simply not credible that he was unaware of what Blagojevich was up to.  He needs to be forthright about how much he knew.
    However, I wouldn’t be surprised if somebody in Obama’s enormous web of advisors, counselors, associates, mentors, etc. is implicated directly. 

  10. Lexington Green Says:

    I hope nothing in this scandal ends up touching Obama.  I say that as a person who did not vote for him and does not like him.  It would be bad for the country if he has allowed himself to be entangled in this mess.
    But I trust Mr. Fitzgerald to follow up on whatever he finds, wherever the trail may lead, as he should.  He appears to be no respecter of person or offices nor of Powers, Principalities, Thrones and Dominions.
    Fiat justitia, ruat coelum.

  11. zen Says:

    I will second Lex’s hope that Obama personally had no discussions with Blago. I think that is probable as a) Obama knows our governor’s rep for buffoonish statements and asinine stunts at the expense of others, and probably does not trust him, and b) that Blago has long been under investigation and moreover they already share an unrelated connection to convicted fixer Tony Rezko. Why get too close ? I’m also fairly sure the Secret Service is appraised when a target of a criminal investigation by the FBI is going to meet with the POTUS or the President-elect.
    That said, Dave is most likely right that if members of Obama’s inner political circle and prospective administration  members were seeking to replace him as Senator, it strains credulity to suggest that *all* of them did it behind his back. That would happen anywhere in politics but especially in Chicago politics. It’s laughable to argue that Obama had no interest whatsoever in who replaced him in his political home base or what the gist of such discussions were. Axelrod too, would be deeply interested as Obama’s main political adviser and strategist.

  12. Eddie Says:

    I agree that someone(s) in his inner circle may end up implicated with this mess or other ongoing Illinois scandals. However, there is a good possibility one of them was cooperating with the Feds from the get-go on this once Blago’s first blatherings about "getting mine" for the Senate seat were being made known. This has to be Fitzgerald’s easiest case to date, given the sheer stupidity of Blago and the web of evidence he has cast around him.

Switch to our mobile site