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December 15th, 2008
02:34 PM ET

Even Chicago's crooks are appalled by Blagojevich

Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, a Democrat, was arrested Tuesday on federal corruption charges.
Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, a Democrat, was arrested Tuesday on federal corruption charges.

Scott Simon
The Wall Street Journal

Chicagoans and Illinoisans love political scandal the way that Milanese love opera.

We trade recollections, like baseball cards, about the secretary of state (Paul Powell) who stashed money in shoeboxes, and the Chicago mayor (Harold Washington) whose birthday was April 15 but never filed his income tax return.

Rod Blagojevich stands a chance to be the fourth Illinois governor in recent history, and the second in a row, to wind up in prison. This run suggests that Illinoisans are indifferent to political corruption, and it's hard to argue with such an impressive procession of felonious officials.

But all of Illinois' disgraced former governors were considered honest pols when they were elected. Otto Kerner had gone to Cambridge, won the Bronze Star, and was a respected judge. Dan Walker was a self-righteous reformer of such blatant rectitude that he managed to cast Illinois Congressman Paul Simon - bow-tied Paul Simon, a man who wouldn't try to sneak a tenth apple into a Nine Items or Less checkout line - as a stooge for the Chicago machine. George Ryan was considered a slightly frumpy small-town druggist who would keep a wary eye on Chicago sharpies. Mr. Blagojevich, for that matter, ran as a fresh face to chase out Ryan's stale old ways.

I leave it to biographers and psychiatrists to ponder if these governors of both parties were honest men who got corrupted in high office, or lifelong crooks who had simply been waiting for the opportunity.

President-elect Barack Obama has never been close to Mr. Blagojevich. He has aligned with the Daley division of the fractured Democratic machine, while Mr. Blagojevich, chiefly through the sponsorship of his father-in-law, a powerful Chicago alderman, has been from that faction that has always resented the mayor's good fortune for being born with the Daley name.

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Filed under: Raw Politics • Rod Blagojevich
soundoff (14 Responses)
  1. Jim M

    Well, remember Governor Gray Davis in California? He too won a second term as governor in that state. Too bad the citizens of Illinois aren't allowed "recall" or Blago would have served a shorter second term than Davis.

    December 15, 2008 at 9:08 pm |
  2. xtina, chicago IL

    Not all Democrats in IL are crooks; however, we need a special election to let the people select a new Governor. Patrick Quinn has a track record of honesty reform and right-of-center politics, but it doesn't make sense to put all that power in one guy's hands under the circumstances.

    December 15, 2008 at 8:15 pm |
  3. Bill

    What fool would believe that any Democratic Senator who gives up his Senate seat has NO interest in HIS replacement. Doesn't care who his replacement is even though as President he would want someone in his seat that supports his ideas, Today Obama said he had "NO contact with the Governors office. (period)" It is yet another denied/sidestepped/truth avoidance position Obama has taken as the Media gives him yet another pass.

    December 15, 2008 at 7:56 pm |
  4. Patty

    Oh give me a break. Someone voted him in as governor. Musta been OK then or someone was making big bucks. Why is everyone reacting this way. There is so much corruption in our government on all levels. whats the big deal? Business as usual. Don't lobbyists pay for what they want and our lives get sold. Same thing.

    December 15, 2008 at 6:58 pm |
  5. Amber Merritt

    The Governor seems truly delusional! When this story broke I was simply shocked and appalled. It is almost comical to watch Rod Blagojevich continue to "act" as is if nothing is wrong. No wonder people are floating the idea of mental imbalances. I bet this guy has a lot of other politicians under his belt that he would be willing to name in court. Corruption doesn't start and end with one man....

    December 15, 2008 at 6:27 pm |
  6. Wayne from Fullerton, CA

    The first thing crooks do when another crook is caught is to say how appalled they are. Did you really expect any other reaction?

    December 15, 2008 at 6:12 pm |
  7. Jim

    To whom more is given more is required- what would happen to the common man on the street that did these things? The Governor being top man in his State will be under greater condemnation. When will politicians learn?

    December 15, 2008 at 4:55 pm |
  8. Heather,ca

    I dont understand why people would a man like Blago into office in the first place. The service he has been doing is for himself.

    December 15, 2008 at 4:48 pm |
  9. Mary V., Salt Lake City, UT

    I am disgusted by the insinuation that President-elect Obama 'somehow was aligned with Blagojevich' wink....wink... that's typical of the far-rght-nuts who will say and do anything to sully their opponents!

    All politicians, regardless of parties know each other. Including Palin and Stevens the Felon. But...... that does not make Palin a felon also!

    President-elect Obama has his plate full, overflowing with the Bush Disaster he is facing and now this stupid criminal who just happens to be from Illinois.

    What upsets me is the insinuations, its the distrust, its the "GUILT BY ASSOCIATION" that the Republicans and their 'hate-monger' mouthpieces continue to attempt to 'pass' as ....... truth.

    Its time we think for ourselves people, and stop listening to the hate, lies, fear and division being spewed over and over by the far-right mongers.

    And when they are wrong...... WILL they apologize to Obama?

    Nope.

    December 15, 2008 at 4:26 pm |
  10. West

    "President-elect Barack Obama has never been close to Mr. Blagojevich. He has aligned with the Daley division of the fractured Democratic machine, while Mr. Blagojevich, chiefly through the sponsorship of his father-in-law, a powerful Chicago alderman, has been from that faction that has always resented the mayor’s good fortune for being born with the Daley name."

    I just can't believe how the MSM has to distance Barak from this guy.

    December 15, 2008 at 3:57 pm |
  11. LyonsPhilly

    This is why a special election by the people is needed. Seems each tainted Governer keeps appointment their likeness to this Seat. Let the taxpayer decide.

    December 15, 2008 at 3:52 pm |
  12. Annie Kate

    Maybe its something in the water at the governor's mansion turning all these "good" men to men with feet of clay and brains to match. Seriously, though when a crook is appalling to another crook you know you have sunk about as low as you can go. And holding up money for a children's hospital – well Blagojevich can kiss any future in politics goodby – he probably couldn't get elected dog catcher now.

    December 15, 2008 at 3:33 pm |
  13. Annie Kate

    Maybe its something in the water at the governor's mansion turning all these "good" men to men with feet of clay and brains to match. Seriously, though when a crook is appalling to another crook you know you have sunk about as low as you can go. And holding up money for a children's hospital – well Blagojevich can kiss any future in politics goodby – he probably couldn't get elected dog catcher now.

    December 15, 2008 at 3:31 pm |
  14. Cindy

    I just can't see how the people of Illinois just keep getting fooled over and over by these crooks! I mean they didn't just get into office and decide to go astray. Chances are they were crooked a long time before they ever ran for office. I guess they, like Obama, weren't vetted enough to see their true identity hiding behind the mask.

    Cindy...Ga.

    December 15, 2008 at 3:07 pm |