Soon to be former Governor Blagojevich

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Guysanto
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Soon to be former Governor Blagojevich

Post by Guysanto » Wed Jan 28, 2009 9:10 am

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/01/2 ... 61475.html

On this forum, we have not so far ever discussed the Blagojevich political scandal in Illinois. While everybody in the national (and international) press was heaping ridicule on the Governor - I read the Financial Times editorial, for instance, which stated that the Governor was too stupid to hold public office -, I always sensed that there was something in all of this that I was missing. People do not get elected (unless they get selected) and especially re-elected for being stupid. For being cynical and mean-spirited, maybe. For being Machiavellian or Nixonian in running a campaign, it's been demonstrated on numerous occasions. For being utterly contemptuous of the political process itself, and running for government on an anti-government platform, we've seen that too. But for being stupid? I kind of doubt that.

[My friend Leonel will likely point to our most recent republican president as an example of someone who was extremely stupid. I never subscribed completely to that line of reasoning and I find it even objectionable in that it leaves the former President somewhat off the hook for his extraordinary record of criminality for the past 7 years. Granted, George Bush was not the smartest of the bunch. In the year 2000, he was not elected by the people of the United States, but regrettably selected by the U.S. Supreme Court on advice of a group of men like former President George H.W. Bush (his father), then Florida Governor Jeff Bush (his brother), James Baker (loyal family friend), Karl Rove (chief political architect) in a day of infamy that forever destroyed the faith that many had placed in the constitutional body. Four years later, George Bush was arguably elected on his own if one conveniently forgets the shenanigans of the Republican electoral machine in the State of Ohio where fraud was rampant on the scale of a banana republic. If only the otherwise intelligent Democratic Senator of Massachusetts had the gumption to insist on a proper recount (as in Al Franken vs. Norm Coleman in Minnesota), we might not have been spared the political trauma that surely Karl Rove and associates would have unfurled on the nation, but perhaps hundreds of thousands of lives both American and Iraqi would have been spared in the exercise of an unnecessary war. One could argue that Senator Kerry's intelligence trumps President Bush's own any day. The former is "A+" type, the second rates a "C-". However, there are different kinds of intelligence. There is, for instance, a persuasive type of intelligence that profoundly understands one's class interests, particularly the moneyed kind, and the relationship between faithfully serving the upper class interests and the reap of political dividends disproportionate to one's earned political capital. President Bush was a genius of that kind, regardless of his notoriously bad academic record or poor performance on the stump or when defending the indefensible.]

As I mentioned above, the jury is still out in the case of Governor Blagojevich, though everyone (including I) senses that his days as governor are counted and nearly down to "0". However, is the Governor as stupid as they say??? Politically, maybe! But the following interview on MSNBC does not portray, in my opinion, a stupid governor : http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/01/2 ... 61475.html. I urge you to listen to all four parts of that interview. I readily admit that I, for one, have never been that intelligent.

The transcript will follow, but it is truly better to see and listen to the audio-visual clips (in four parts).

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Post by Guysanto » Wed Jan 28, 2009 10:01 am

The transcript of the interview is below.

RACHEL MADDOW: Gov. Blagojevich, thank you for being here. It's nice of you to take the time.

BLAGOJEVICH:
Thank you.

RACHEL MADDOW:
You have handled this ordeal with a lot of political skill-- so far. The-- this-- this media tour that you have done in New York has really effectively overshadowed a lot of what's going on in the Illinois state senate right now. I would also say that your appointment of Roland Burris to the senate seat-- it-- it was accepted by the senate, which was a big embarrassment to the US senators who said that they would not accept him. Those are politically skillful moves. Do you feel like-- weirdly, in-- in a way, that you're sort of winning? That there's a chance you might, politically, survive this ordeal?

BLAGOJEVICH:
No, I don't. I-- I-- I think-- the fix is into the state senate. Unless they change their rules and give me a chance to defend myself. And-- most importantly, give the people of Illinois, who've elected me twice to office, a chance to bring all the evidence that's relevant to show that I've done nothing wrong. Every taped conversation. Witnesses from Rahm Emmanuel to Dick Durbin to Harry Reid to Senator Menendez to Valerie Jarett. Every single witness who-- might testify-- in-- in-- at a criminal case, bring them all in now. Because I'd like the whole truth to come out sooner rather than later. And let that senate impeachment process-- take-- what it's doing and honestly-- and objectively determine whether or not there was anything done that was wrong. And once they hear the whole story they'll find out that I didn't do anything wrong, and I did a lot of things right.

* * *

RACHEL MADDOW:
Well, are-- do you see it as a good thing or a bad thing that we actually got the audio tapes of some of the wiretapped conversations played today in the senate? That is something new. It just happened today. Are you happy that those tapes were played? Do you want more of them to be played?

BLAGOJEVICH:
I want every tape. Every one of them. Every taped conversation to be heard so the whole story can be heard in the full context. Conversations, ideas, thoughts, potential senators here, potential senators there. How do we get results for people? All those conversations would be, in my judgment, ought to be heard so that everybody hears the right story. I consider myself the anti-Nixon. Remember, during Watergate, Richard Nixon fought every step of the way to keep his tapes from being heard. And then, finally, he ran out of-- roadblocks, the Supreme Court ruled he had to release those tapes, and there was one that showed that he had obstructed justice.

I want just the opposite. I want them all heard, now, right away, so the (NOISE) whole story can be heard. Because I know, I know that I-- I-- I-- I never had a conversation where intended to violate any law. And I know that I didn't break any law. And so what I'd like is a chance to be able to get that done sooner rather than later. And before those senators throw out a governor who was elected twice by the people they ought to give the people's governor, who was elected by them, a fair opportunity to do what every citizen has the right to do, and that is to confront witnesses, and be able to show that if someone said you did something wrong you didn't do something wrong.

* * *

RACHEL MADDOW:
I-- I-- do you agree that it would be-- it would be wrong, it would be criminal-- for you to try to exchange Barack Obama's US senate seat, that appointment, for something that would be of value to you. You agree that that would be wrong.

BLAGOJEVICH:
Oh, absolutely.

RACHEL MADDOW:
Yeah. Did--

BLAGOJEVICH:
A personal-- you know, one for the other personal gain?

RACHEL MADDOW:
Yeah.

BLAGOJEVICH:
Absolutely.

RACHEL MADDOW:
And you didn't do that?

BLAGOJEVICH:
Absolutely not.

RACHEL MADDOW:
Well, on the wiretaps, you're quoted saying, "It's a bleeping valuable thing. You don't just give it away for nothing. If they're not going to offer anything of value I might just take it. I've got this thing and it's bleeping golden. I'm not just giving it up for bleeping nothing." In what possible context could you say-- say things like that if you weren't trying to exchange something of value for the senate seat? What-- what other context would make--

(OVERTALK)

BLAGOJEVICH:
Well, let me answer that two ways. First, I can't comment specifically on that, 'cause I haven't heard those tapes. But assuming that's what it is, if you hear all the tapes, and you hear the whole thing in its context, if I feared that that was something sinister or onerous would I want all those tapes heard? And, in addition to that, just playing devil's advocate, I'm not-- not acknowledging that that's-- actually were on the tapes, 'cause we haven't had a chance to hear it. But playing the devil's advocate in assuming it was. Why can't the construction of that be I want them to help me pass a public works program, a jobs program, that the Democratic speaker, Mr. Madigan, has been blocking. I want them to help me help 45,000 working people get healthcare that the Democratic speaker in the house has been blocking. I want them to help me have a law that requires insurance companies to cover people with preexisting medical conditions that the Democratic speaker has been blocking. In--

RACHEL MADDOW:
Even if you want-- even if you wanted food for the hungry, I-- I mean, even if you wanted justice itself in exchange for the senate seat, you're not supposed to exchange anything for the senate seat.

(OVERTALK)

BLAGOJEVICH:
Well, I don't-- I don't-- I don't disagree that one for the other isn't. But there's-- there are-- political negotiations and leveraging-- which is all very much part of the process. And, again, if those tapes were all heard you'd hear discussions-- that I had with people from-- five senior senators-- Senator Dick Durban about facilitating-- Senator Menendez. Harry Reid and I discussed the senate seat. Heck of a lot of other people. And I-- I would like every one of them to be able to testify under oath, sworn testimony, in that impeachment trial about the context and nature of those conversations.

RACHEL MADDOW:
Are you saying, though, that they would testify as to what you were trying to get in exchange for the appointment?

BLAGOJEVICH:
I-- I'm simply saying, if-- if they told the truth, they'd be part of a big story and a larger story, that would, I think, show-- you know, that there were a lot of ideas talked about. That we explored different options. We looked and tried to think outside the box, like Oprah Winfrey, for example. Some ideas were good. Some were stupid. Some you can't do. Just natural discussions when you're trying to-- get a results that ultimately leads to the place that's right for people. And when this whole story's told it's gonna show the decisions and all the rest, ultimately, we're about putting people to work, expanding healthcare, and holding the line on taxes for middle class families.

RACHEL MADDOW:
When-- when you-- again, this is from the wiretapped calls, and I realize you're not gonna testify to their veracity. But they are out there, and the transcripts are there, and some of them were played today in the senate. Speaking about Barack Obama's advisors, "They're not willing to give me anything but appreciation in exchange for the senate seat. Bleep them." What would you want other than appreciation? What-- what could be kosher to exchange for a senate seat?

BLAGOJEVICH:
Well, how about helping us pass healthcare and a jobs bill? And helping the people of Illinois. Don't just leave Illinois now. And--

RACHEL MADDOW:
I will appoint person X instead of person Y unless you do this (UNINTEL) favor for me?

BLAGOJEVICH:
No, no, the-- no, the one-- for the other is not-- that-- that's not what I'm saying. I'm simply saying-- I'm in a political business. When Barack Obama agrees to raise $10 million for Hillary Clinton to get out of the race that's the natural political sort of thing that happens in this business. It's appropriate. Nothing that you-- improper about it. Again, in the full context, discussions and the explorations of ideas and thoughts and whether you could or couldn't do something-- you-- you should be able to do that in a free country that guarantees the right of free speech. Especially when you're doing it in what you think is the sanctity of your home, and you want to do it out of your home phone, because you don't want any interconnection with the government's lines, so somebody thinks you're talking politics on a government phone. Again, when the whole story is-- is heard, and put in the proper context, I think you'll see a process that ultimately-- ultimately would-- would lead in the right place.

* * *


RACHEL MADDOW:
You-- have become a national figure in a way that I'm sure was not the way that you wanted to become a national figure. Are you mad?

BLAGOJEVICH:
I-- I'm not mad. I-- I'm philosophical about it. Dr. King had a quote. Said that, "In the end, you remember not the words of your enemies, but the silence of your friends." And when something like this happens to you it's-- it becomes very lonely. And people who were in your office just the day before, people who were calling constantly 'cause they had needs and wants, and were excessively obsequious, and if this was a private conversation I'd have another way to say it. Kissing-- you know, once this happened, you know, they're nowhere to be found. And-- and-- and if you try to call them they wouldn't call back, so you know you don't even bother calling them. But I-- that's kind of part of this business. And I-- I-- I understand a lot of it. That's why Harry Truman said if, in Washington it applied to politics, and if you want a friend get a dog. And that's why you-- you find comfort with your family. And, for us, my wife and I, the most difficult part is, our two daughters. Our little girls. And my-- our 12 year old especially, who is a lot more aware of what's happening. And our little five year old. And-- and that's another reason why, you know, I'm simply not gonna-- I'm not gonna acknowledge things that aren't true, or say that I did something wrong when I didn't. Because I don't want to shame my children. And-- much better for their father to fight to the very end for principles that are bigger than him, and this one is the office of the governor. And the right to be able to show he didn't do anything wrong (UNINTEL) taken away from the people of Illinois than to simply accept something and-- and somehow look like you did something wrong when you didn't. So-- you know, the chances are I'll be looking for work in the next several days. But we'll get on. And I'll vindicate myself. The truth will come out.

RACHEL MADDOW:
You'll be working fulltime on your criminal defense, after this.

BLAGOJEVICH:
I-- I--

RACHEL MADDOW:
If--

BLAGOJEVICH:
I need to find some, you know, I'll have to find some employment in some place. And-- and-- and-- and I'll-- I'll-- I'll do that. We'll rebuild our lives. And we're not unlike the tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands of people across America who, unfortunately, are losing their jobs, because this economy is so bad. And, like them, we'll get back to basics and-- we'll begin this process of rebuilding our lives.

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Post by Marilyn » Wed Jan 28, 2009 10:13 am

I watched that Maddow-Blago interview last night and Blago is a lot of things but he's not stupid.

He's self-absorbed, a preening peacock, a holdover-from-another-generation type of big-city politician who wheels and deals until stopped in his tracks by another politician who wants to have his turn at wheeling and dealing.

The only difference between Blago and, say, former Republican Majority Leader of the U.S. House of Representatives Tom DeLay is that the Feds were listening into Blago's phone calls.

Both played hardball, both wielded power to advance their own interests and the interests of their political machine. And both got caught.

Big difference, however, in how the litigation unfolded. The entire GOP political machine went to DeLay's defense and he got a slap on the wrist. Blago is on his own and for much smaller offenses will more than likely have the book thrown at him.

I'm not defending the man. He crossed the line and should lose his job. And if he broke laws, he should go to jail.

I'm just saying that something much bigger than Blago is taking place in and around all of this.

I don't know how many politicians I've heard say that the stuff Blago did is done in State Houses and Mayoral Offices across the country. The only difference is that Blago doesn't have an ounce of finesse about him! And he obviously stepped on some very powerful toes!

Marilyn

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Post by Serge » Wed Jan 28, 2009 11:21 am

Friends,

I too do not think that Blago is stupid; he is just corrupt. I was listening the other day to a political analyst naming the most corrupt states in this country and I remember he mentioned 2 of them: Illinois and Alaska (he cited 4 in all but I only remember these 2).

What happened to Blago has happened to other politicians and as Marylin said, he just got caught. No, he is not stupid, just being typically human. Human beings have a way, when they engage in illegal, underhanded activities, of getting cockier and cockier with every successful scheme they undertake. They become less and less careful, lowering their guard and that is when they start committing mistakes. Who would have thought that , despite all the previous examples he had before him in Chicago, Blago would be careless enough to forget that such a public figure like him could be closely watched. Cockiness, arrogance!

Candidate Obama almost got caught in the Chicago "collimateur", but escaped more or less unscathed. It is amazing that he had enough integrity to remain above the mud. If Congressman Jesse Jackson had followed Obama's lead and keep Blago at a long distance, he would not have been damaged as he is now. Each made his choice, and it turns out that Obama had the flair to smell Blago from far, far away. Jesse Jackson did not.

No, he is not stupid, he just succumbed to his inner demons and now, "lap demele gèt li tankou rat ki pran nan pèlin". Marylin, could you translate this?


Serge

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Post by Guysanto » Wed Jan 28, 2009 12:04 pm

[quote]Blago doesn't have an ounce of finesse about him! And he obviously stepped on some very powerful toes![/quote]
Off topic, but what you wrote reminds me of J. Robert Oppenheimer, the father of the U.S. Atomic Bomb, as portrayed in the PBS documentary about his ordeals, two nights ago. Oppenheimer may have had some finesse, but was typically arrogant. He stepped on some very powerful toes, for which he paid a heavy price. He was also a man full of contradictions. Having written guidelines for the use of the A-bomb to maximize human casualties (shock and awe), he then became a voice of moderation in urging President Truman to back off the path of total destruction capabilities.

In any case, I do sense that Blagojevich, as you say, lacked finesse more than anything else. In the tradition of Chicago-style politics, the guy might even be more on the saintly side than the evil one. His biggest sin may have been that he did not learn his trade very well.

I do confess that I have more contempt for some of the current leaders of the Democratic Congress who capitulated to the Bush White House every step of the way. They even took impeachment "off the table" for any serious consideration of the Bush presidency's pattern of lies and abuses of power. And now that Obama won, they are only too eager to display their independence and stating that they are not "working for Obama". Well, they are indeed supposed to work for the American people and not for the President. The only thing is, they surely fooled me if what they did over the last few years was "working for the American people". It's a strange time to be re-asserting your independence, isn't it?

I certainly do not want to indict all U.S. Democratic senators and representatives (that would be patently unfair to many of them), but the leadership of their party has been less than stellar during the nightmarish years of the Bush Presidency. In being so adamant about Blago's resignation, they proved once more that "dan pouri gen fòs sou bannann mi".

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Marilyn
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Post by Marilyn » Wed Jan 28, 2009 1:55 pm

Yesterday morning on MSNBC's Morning Joe, columnist Mike Barnicle from Boston asked this question about Blago:

[quote]Is he a criminal or just a jack-ass?[/quote]

We'll see once Patrick Fitzgerald shows his evidence in the upcoming trial.


About the behavior of many Democratic Congressional leaders during the Bush years, Guy, I agree with you.

Bush couldn't have been Bush without the enablement of a number of key Democrats at seemingly every strategic moment along the way.

It'll be interesting to see how they behave now. Will they undercut Obama at seemingly every strategic moment along the way?

Time will tell.


And, Serge, I'll leave it to Guy to do that translation. It has to do with being like a rat caught in a trap but I'm sure there's got to be more to it than that! :)

Marilyn

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Post by Guysanto » Wed Jan 28, 2009 2:40 pm

Well, like any rat caught in a trap, he is working his ass off to get out of the trap. Perhaps, there are some more delicate ways of translating it...


As to my selected Haitian idiom at the end of my last post, "dan pouri gen fòs sou bannann mi", it's likely that every visitor to Ann Pale knows exactly what that means.... but just in case, I'll translate (literally) : "rotten teeth have strength over sweet (ripe) plantains". The applicable meaning should be obvious to all.

By the way, have you ever observed a rat or a mouse caught in a trap? (I don't mean the lethal kind that immediately finishes them off.) Their survival instinct is awesome... Serge's description could not be more apt.

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Post by Serge » Wed Jan 28, 2009 8:36 pm

Kanmarad,

Speaking of jackass, have you all been following "that one"? Not another governor, not another politician, but another preacher: Ted Haggard?

I jumped from Blago to Haggard; two different situations, but same common denominator: jackass, hypocrite, rats caught, you name it....


Serge

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