Monday, January 11, 2010

This Cat Isn't Going Away, Thankfully

Washington is buzzing about the strategic marketing leaks from the latest gossp book. That's fine, but the real action is with Blago. The "must read" of the week is Scott Raab's interview with The B Man in Esquire.

Excerpts here:

"We had all kinds of offers to do reality shows," says Blagojevich. "This bullbleep where they come in the house — Keeping Up With the Kardashians — I won't do that bleep."

"The two biggest sellers this Halloween in the Chicago area were Michael Jackson's jacket and wigs of my hair."

"Where the bleep is Woodward and Bernstein? It's shocking that this could happen in America. Because I'm telling you, I am innocent of every single allegation. Every one. I've been falsely accused, I've been lied about, I've been maliciously treated. Worse than that, my family and my children have to suffer. And larger than that, the people of Illinois had their governor stolen from them based on false accusations that were made knowingly."
So you're saying ...
"He (Fitz) falsely accuses me, falsely says things that the four hundred hours of taped conversations would show, and after he does it — by taking snippets of conversation out of context — he goes into court and gets a protective order that prevents those tapes from being heard by the public and prevents me from telling you what's on those tapes.
Now how's that America?"

But if the ...
"That's the truth of this. That is the truth of what's happened here. And to think that this could happen in America is shocking to me. As the son of an immigrant, whose father fled Communism, as I write in my book, I've lived the American dream. Now there's an American nightmare going on — these malicious prosecutions that are basically undermining the very principles and the liberties that we Americans expect."
When does the ...
"When the full story's heard, and my conversations on those telephones — hundreds of hours that were secretly recorded — are heard and people hear me motherbleeping these phony politicians and how sickening they are, because the people are getting screwed, it'll correct itself. Here's a guy who believes in the power of the simple truth, and he doesn't care who's out to get him. He's going to fight back, and he believes that the strength of the truth in America is still more powerful than all these people — and that's what my story will be when I'm vindicated. Don't pass judgment — just wait to see the result. You'll see."

This sort of hero requires an epic villain, naturally, and Blago's is U. S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald, who headed the Blagojevich investigation and held a press conference after his arrest to trumpet that the governor was nailed "in the middle of ... a political-corruption crime spree" and to tell the world that Blagojevich's "conduct would make Lincoln roll over in his grave." It was, Fitzgerald added, a "moment of truth for Illinois," which — given Chicago's rich legacy of graft, corruption, and political buffoonery, plus the fact that the governor before Blago is serving a six-year sentence on federal corruption charges — is like swatting a mosquito and calling it a landmark in the fight against malaria.
What sets the Blago case apart, of course, is the little matter of Barack Obama's Senate seat.
"It's a bleeping valuable thing," the governor allegedly announced in a phone call taped by the feds the day before Obama's election. "You just don't give it away for nothing."
On a second call, the day after the election, Blagojevich allegedly said, "I've got this thing and it's bleeping golden, and I'm not just giving it up for bleeping nothing."
Allegedly not. In New Jersey, where I live, some yutz named Jon Corzine made his political debut by spending $60 million of his own cash to buy a Senate seat in 2000, followed the next year by another political tyro, Mike Bloomberg, forking over $70 million for the mayoralty of New York City. So ten years later, figure a Senate seat may be worth $100 million. Giving a Chicago politician naming rights to that seat, what the hell would any sentient American adult expect that pol to do?
Sorry — allegedly do.

"They didn't stop a crime spree," says Blago. "They stopped a routine political deal that would've put five hundred thousand people to work, given fifty thousand to three hundred thousand people access to health care, helped keep four thousand people a day in their homes — that's what they stopped."
The deal, says Blagojevich, was to name Attorney General Lisa Madigan, daughter of the Illinois Speaker of the House, Mike Madigan, to Obama's seat.
"I hate her and him," Blago says. "But if I could get a public-works jobs bill, if I can get the expansion of health care, if I can get foreclosure relief" — all of which, Blago claims, were being held hostage by the Speaker — "I'd hold my nose and make her a senator.
Rahm Emanuel, we talked to him — my chief of staff was talking to Rahm about putting this deal together, and I was prepared to do it because it was the best I could get for the people.

"The day before they arrested me, I directed my chief of staff to work out the tactics and get it done, and all of a sudden, the next morning, they're arresting me? The whole thing's upside down. They stole me away from the people of Illinois. Now that's the truth, okay? So someone's lying here, about whether I'm selling that Senate seat for financial gain, or whether I was positioning and working to try to get a political deal that would benefit the people. Somebody is lying here, and that's an unbelievable lie."

"David Axelrod called me the day after John Kerry lost to Bush — Wednesday — and he said, You need to think about running for president in 2008. A new face from the Midwest to challenge Hillary Clinton. He used to work for me. He had Obama in his stable already — he's a consultant, so he's just gathering potential talents. That's what these guys do — it's all about picking winners."
Which reminds him: "I'll show you where Rahm lives," he says. We're in my rental; Blago's ride these days is a 1988 Volvo owned by his brother, and alleged coconspirator, Rob.
"That house with the flag, and then there's the lot right next door — he bought that. When he left the [Clinton] White House, he got into some deal where he made a quick $15 million through his connections with Exelon ComEd — amazing. Fifteen million — it's that white-collar stuff people do. He's using his connections in the White House, but I'm the guy facing what I'm facing. And I'm broke."
How ...
"He makes that money, and he's where he is. I'm busted, I'm broke, because I've worked as an honest public official, and the federal government, my very accusers themselves, say I'm indigent. It's unbelievable."
So ...
"People out there who are getting bleeped by big, powerful forces in faraway places — they don't know who's doing it to them, or they have some idea who's doing it to them, but they don't feel like they have any control over it. I will show you can fight back when you have righteousness and the truth on your side."
You ...
"It's such a cynical business, and most of the people in the business are full of bleep and phonies, but I was real, man — and am real. This guy (Obama), he was catapulted in on hope and change, what we hope the guy is. What the bleep? Everything he's saying's on the teleprompter. I'm blacker than Barack Obama. I shined shoes. I grew up in a five-room apartment. My father had a little laundromat in a black community not far from where we lived. I saw it all growing up."

It's nearly impossible to imagine Rod Blagojevich on the witness stand, but it's wholly impossible to imagine that Rahm Emanuel and Barack Obama — who has had ties with Chicago real estate developer, alleged Blago coconspirator, and convicted felon Tony Rezko — have not pondered that very prospect.
"I'm absolutely going to testify," Blago promises.
"Absolutely. I'm going to go up there and tell the whole truth — and the complete truth."

Ba-da-da-da-dah, I'm lovin' it!