Enfin: Blago Gone, Dems Party of Angels Again
Bloggers seem to agree unanimously that Blagojevich is stupid beyond belief. It’s probably true that he could have avoided getting caught the way he did if he had made some smarter decisions. (I’m not saying that his pay-for-play schemes were stupid in themselves. There is a difference between stupidity and immorality.) Yet while his attempts to defend himself are subject to general ridicule, imagine how different the situation would be if his colleagues had some political reasons to keep Blago in power. They would all join him citing poems and comparing him to Gandhi.
Politicians are able to get away with almost anything as long as people whose collective power reaches a sufficiently high level want it so. This is why Blago wanted Rahm, Axelrod, Harry Reid, etc as witnesses: those people would be unable to incriminate Blago without incriminating themselves and tainting everyone who has done business with him (which includes the President). The members of the Illinois Senate, of course, knew that and isolated the ex-Governor to politically exterminate him. This way they could not only declare the rest of the Democratic party innocent but also portray themselves as justice-serving and appalled by Blago’s corruption as if it were something almost too filthy for their pure eyes to behold.
But Blagojevich has certainly chosen the right party for his ambitions. He was much more likely to succeed in what he attempted to do as a Democrat than as a Republican. For one thing, public opinion always tilts in favour of the left when it comes to questions about “good” vs “evil”. It is easier to get the image of “nice” when you make irresponsible policies in the name of the poor and needy than when you spoil the utopian dreams of the naive with grown-up logic. Secondly, only a Democrat can use the “if you are against me you are against the widows and the uninsured children” argument without making everybody blowing raspberries. (The only reason this didn’t work for Blago was that his colleagues had every reason to distance themselves from him. Had his guilty verdict meant the same for Rahm and Axelrod, you can be sure that many Democrats would have agreed that the former Illinois Governor is actually a saint.)
There are probably many in public offices who are guilty of at least the kind of dealings the ex-Governor has been trying but somehow have succeeded in keeping the “I’m fighting for the widows and the uninsured children” narrative working for them. It would be a good thing if Democrats (and Republicans, for that matter) would be as intent on cleaning the inside of the cup as they are on cleaning the outside of it.