Shouting Thomas points out that John Kass, Mike Royko's successor as Chicago tough guy columnist, has been writing about how Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich is not going peacefully into that good night. Already, Blago has wormed his appointee Roland Burris into the U.S. Senate. Can he save himself?
Blago has been trying to head off impeachment by threatening to squeal on a wide array of Illinois politicians. Kass writes:
He also lobbed a few warning shots toward the Obama White House, saying he could prove his innocence, if only the Illinois Senate would allow him the right to question the president's chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, about discussions concerning appointments for Obama's old Senate seat.Obama and Blagojevich never liked each other much, but they both were close friends of Tony Rezko, so Blago just might have something on Obama from his days in the Illinois Senate.
... It's also laughable to see others who know better denounce him as a psycho. They just don't get it. As I've said before, the governor is of clear mind.
On "The View" he issued a threat to his estranged father-in-law, Ald. Dick Mell (33rd), the man who made him. The governor said his political problems began after he blocked an illegal landfill supported by Mell. That may have slipped past all the pretend Chicago political experts, but it didn't slip past Chicago politicians. They know a threat when they hear it.
Yet it is what Gov. Nosferatu told NBC over the weekend that surely terrifies Illinois politicians:
"And for me to just quit because some cackling politicians want to get me out of the way because there's a whole bunch of things they don't want known about them and conversations they may have had with me . . . would be to disgrace my children when I know I've done nothing wrong," said the governor.
I've got an idea for a show like "The View" that would be so scary, our politicians would demand emergency government subsidies for Depends.
Instead of lumpy comics touching his hair, how about four tough, bright female federal prosecutors in the U.S. attorney's public corruption squad interviewing a cooperating Gov. Nosferatu for hours in the federal building?
Mayor Richard Daley and the other "cackling politicians" could watch. Taxpayers might think it a comedy, but politicians know that true horror can be just a witness away.
One of the scandals for which Rezko is currently in jail is for owning via bribery five of the nine members of a Illinois state commission that has veto power over plans to build hospitals in the state, allowing Rezko to push through a giant hospital construction plan. Until Illinois Democrats swept to power in the 2002 elections, with Blago becoming governor and Obama becoming chairman of the state senate Health and Human Services committee, there were 15 members of the commission, so Rezko only owned a minority. But a 2003 bill, Senate Bill 1332, was introduced to cut the number commissioners from 15 to 9 and referred to Obama's committe. The Obama committee recommended it to the floor where it passed. Six anti-Rezko commissioners were then dropped from the commission and Rezko had his illicit majority of five of nine.
Did Obama understand what his old friend, fundraiser, frequent lunch partner, and property co-buyer in 2005, was up to?
Obama's not stupid. He'd known Rezko since 1990. Obama knew all along how the game was played in Illinois. He never wanted to change the rules of the game, just win at it. He chose to move to Chicago, twice, to make Chicago politics his career.
Could Blago take Obama down over this?
It seems highly implausible. I strongly doubt that Obama put anything about the bill in writing, and probably would never have said anything on any phone line that might have been tapped more incriminating than "I have understood you."
Could Rezko take Obama down? What if, to speculate irresponsibly, Rezko testified in return for a sentence reduction,
"I told him, 'Barack, old buddy, this bill cutting the number of commissioners from 15 to 9 is the big one for me. I need this favor bad. You play ball on the panel and I'll return the favor for you down the road.' And Obama replied with a smile to me, 'I have understood you.'"Federal prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald has already arrested two Illinois governors. He's got courage. But the idea that he'd go after the Promised Prince, a sitting President of the United States, with swindler Tony Rezko as his main witness against The One, with the Riot Veto hanging over his head, seems wildly improbable. If he can use Blago to take down, say, Mayor Daley, well, that would put Fitzgerald up at the top of the all-time prosecutor hall of fame, ahead of Thomas Dewey, Rudy Giuliani, and Vincent Bugliosi. That would seem enough for one lifetime.
So, Obama should be able to rest easy over Blago. His chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, who succeeded Blago as the House member for the mobbed up western suburbs of Chicago, well, maybe not so much.