Wednesday, December 10, 2008

A State of Embarrassment

With the caveat that people, even politicians, are innocent until proven guilty in a court of law, if, as seems to be the case, recordings exist of Nimrod Blagojevich conspiring to auction Obama’s Senate Seat and perform various other egregious acts that make Alaska’s governor vastly preferable, well, he’s royally (expletive). And while I’m not entirely convinced that he’ll get quite what he deserves, for delusional megalomaniacs, the fall from grace is often ample punishment in itself.

I certainly don’t feel bad for him, and I think his profanely stated disdain for Obama’s unwillingness to “play ball” pretty much exonerates the President-elect from wrongdoing—not that it will stop Republicans from drawing a connection. Though no one seems to be clarifying the one question I have regarding Obama: Let’s say he, or his people, said to the Guv, “I really think Valerie Jarrett would be the best choice for my Senate replacement,” is there anything problematic in that in and of itself? If Obama isn’t offering or asking for special favors, just sharing his preference, is that legal and/or ethical? Or is Blagojevich’s decision-making process supposed to be devoid of any influence by anyone who can benefit in any way (and if Valerie Jarrett is a better Senate advocate than someone else would be, that is a benefit).

Anyway, though I typically don’t overindulge in civic pride, it pisses me off that Blagojevich has heaped worldwide humiliation on Illinois and Chicago at a time when we had been basking in the residual glory from Obama’s election. Around the U.S. and the world, Chicago has primarily been known as the home of gangsters (Al Capone style) and political corruption (vote early, vote often). Since the 1980s, Michael Jordan and Oprah Winfrey have become multi-national beacons for the city, and Obama is poised to outshine even them. And with his support, getting the 2016 Olympics certainly looked likely.

But with indiscretions that make Eliot Spitzer’s seem petty, and whatever shenanigans Mayor Daley may pull relatively run-of-the-mill and devoid of Rod’s brazen stupidity, Blagojevich has once again given Illinois and Chicago a black eye, which threatens to linger long into Obama’s administration.

Below are a few of today’s newspapers, beginning with the New York Daily News:

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