After a quarter century of following politics, there are some canards that will never let you down. For example, a good way to judge the character of an individual is to look at that individual's enemies. Also, if some unsavory individuals are all unified against one person, there's probably something rotten in Denmark and I'm not talking about eggs or cheese.
Beleaguered Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich has certainly fit the bill regarding some of these words of wisdom. For a moment, let us look at those who are most zealous in their criticism of Blagojevich.
The leader of the pack in the race to impeach Blagojevich is Speaker of the Illinois House of Representatives Mike Madigan. The Chicago-based Democrat--who many believe takes a back seat only to the leader of the Democratic machine in Chicago, Mayor Richard M. Daley--is one of Blagojevich's most ardent critics. However, during what I can only call a surreal press conference on December 15th, Madigan laid out the guidelines for the impeachment process he is currently leading against the Illinois governor. There were some interesting tidbits of information which provided a sidebar to Madigan's words on that winter day in the state Capitol. The Speaker of the Illinois House said the impeachment committee would consist of legislators who had at least six years of experience in either the House or Senate.
Of course Madigan would make this a prerequisite for service on his impeachment committee. Madigan wouldn't want to go into the process not being able to count on or control the way panel members would come down on Blagojevich. After all, Madigan had other clams to dig that would result from getting rid of the current Democratic Governor. Lisa Madigan, the Speaker's daughter and Illinois' Attorney General has had her heart set on moving into the Governor's mansion for more than a couple of years now. But her daddy needed to find a way to clear the path for his little darlin' and Blagojevich's reckless conduct opened the door.
Now don't get me wrong. I do not believe Blagojevich handled himself with integrity as revealed on Patrick Fitzgerald's many wire taps. But let's not forget that's how business is done in Illinois and the only thing that is shocking is the fact the public had a chance to listen in on what some think was a regular day of business inside the seamy world of the Daley Democratic machine or, as it is now referred to, the Chicago way.
And one more point about Lisa Madigan. Does anyone else think she should have recused herself from taking any role in the investigation of Blagojevich? I know it's a wild thought for those who are used to Illinois politics, but...
Now here's one piece of speculation that might shock you. Could it be possible Blagojevich was a reformer and by taking this role he ran afoul of the powerful entities which control Illinois politics, both Democrat and Republican. For those of you who reside outside Illinois' borders, long ago the state was unofficially divvied-up between the Democratic machine and what some call the Republican combine. Chicago and some of the collar counties were designated possessions of the Democratic Party, while the Republican political machine--headed up by former GOP Governor "Big Jim" Thompson--controlled the rest of the state. If Blagojevich had the audacity to buck both of these entities, he was bound to make enemies of the most powerful kind.
"It's a running battle between the state legislature and the Governor's office," said Bob Redfern, president of the Illinois Forum, a public policy group. "This has happened before in Illinois history and it's happening again. Things are not as cut and dry as they may seem."
Earlier this week, Blagojevich joined forces with former state Senator Bobby Rush (D) and appointed well-respected Roland Burris (D) to fill the U.S. Senate seat vacated by President-elect Barack Obama. By the way, Obama--as the Democratic machine's candidate--defeated Rush for the state Senate just a few short years ago.
The appointment of Burris by Blagojevich was widely criticized by the usual suspects, even though the former Illinois Attorney General and Comptroller is a man of great integrity. However, integrity and quality of service to the state is not a prerequisite for those who wanted Obama's seat to go to one of their own and they have vowed to stop Burris from sitting in the Senate.
"Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White doesn't have the Constitutional right or power to keep Roland Burris from being certified as a member of the U.S. Senate and neither does Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid," Redfern continued. "Who is Harry Reid to condemn anybody? Reed needs to worry about taking care of the country's business, instead of dabbling in Illinois inside politics. I hope Blagojevich sticks it out and this thing is handled according to the rule of law."
If Blagojevich is not a reformer, he certainly is a thorn in the side of those who feel Illinois is their own private political playground, Obama included. Like Redfern, I believe Blagojevich should stick it out for as long as possible. Let's see what skeletons falls out of that Illinois political closet. Perhaps Blagojevich deserves to be impeached and convicted of a crime. But I asked Madigan if the Governor was merely guilty of being a bad politician. Madigan's convoluted answer did not satisfy me and it should not due for others.
After all, two years ago the Illinois Speaker of the House chaired Blagojevich's reelection bid. However, during that Dec. 15th press conference, Madigan had the audacity to say he's been a critic of Blagojevich for nearly six years. Perhaps the old cliché regarding something being rotten in Denmark is not apropos concerning the Blagojevich situation. In reality, a better description of what's going on in Illinois might include something like "this is what you get when you have the foxes guarding the henhouse."
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