Former Gov. Rod Blagojevich — the Energizer Bunny of Shamelessness — wants all 500 hours of FBI surveillance tape of his wiretapped phone conversations heard.
“Play all the tapes. Play all the tapes. Play the truth, and play the whole truth,” he said in court last week.
“Every second, every minute, every hour that the government secretly taped.”
The interested observer — and we are all interested, compulsively drawn, slack-jawed observers when it comes to the never-ending Blagojevich car wreck — wonders why Blago would do this. The obvious answer: He thinks it will help his case.
Sure, this demand might be tactical — bury the jury and the public in evidence, in quotes and quips and comments, hoping they lose sight of the damning parts.
But I also suspect sincere self-regard might also be a factor. Blagojevich is so pathological — unrestrained vanity set loose upon a defenseless world — I would suggest that he is also making an ego-fueled blunder common to criminals.
Crooks often recoil, offended, at the notion of being judged solely by some momentary lapse, and not by the full scope and glory of their precious selves. Thus they mount what I call the I-Didn’t-Kill-Everybody Defense. They try to parade their unmurdered neighbors through the courtroom to talk about how well their lawn was kept mowed, as if it mattered.
The truth is those tapes could contain 499 hours and 59 minutes of Blagojevich arranging to fly sick kittens on the governor’s plane to receive kidney transplants, donating personal funds to help retired kindergarten teachers buy yarn for their knitting circles, and waxing poetic about Jefferson, and it would not matter one bit, from a legal point of view. Nobody cared whether John Wayne Gacy was a good clown. Crime changes everything.
Not, I hasten to add, that I am confident a crime was actually committed by Blagojevich. United States District Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald said he had to act quickly in arresting Blago in late 2008 to prevent the commission of a crime — the selling of Barack Obama’s open Senate seat. He may have acted too quickly. It’s as if he burst into a would-be bank robber’s house the morning the heist was to take place. On a chair were a ski mask, a water pistol and tickets to Mexico. One could argue — and perhaps win — that this was preparation for the crime. But one could also argue — and perhaps win — that it is not a crime to possess a ski mask, a water pistol and tickets to Mexico.
So Blagojevich said the opportunity was “golden” and he should make money on it. That’s like me saying that all the money in the bank is mine and I want it. Scary? Yes. Unhinged? Sure. But a crime? We’ll see . . .
Not that I’m endorsing Blagojevich. It’s a shame he can’t be sent to prison on general principles, or for placing a lame duck dodderer like Roland Burris in the seat he wanted to sell. Now we have to watch Mark Kirk try to be charming for the next 20 years.
The idea of Blagojevich beating the rap is unbearable, because if you think the weasel is omnipresent now, imagine how he’ll behave if exonerated. A whirling dervish of self-promotion and delusion, bursting into the governor’s office, wrapping his arms around Gov. Quinn’s knees, screeching for his old job back.
Yes, Gov. Quinn. I know I have been drifting away from the fold, disillusioned, and even speculating it might be time for a Republican governor. Then an actual Republican — gubernatorial candidate Bill Brady — thought he whiffed victory, and could not resist outlining his vision for the New Jerusalem. With the election yet undecided, he surveys the great state of Illinois, from the mean streets of Chicago to the sleepy silos of Alton, from the farms to the factories, the schools, the houses, the cares and concerns of 13 million, and announces that he wants to win so he can push for a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriages and gay unions.
How sick is that? What kind of twisted sexual obsessive would you have to be in order for that item to be foremost on your platter? That’s like the new junior high school principal, on his first day, announcing daily clean underwear checks. Creepy, even if you’re a fan of personal hygiene. Perhaps I fail at sufficiently grasping the fixated fundamentalist mindset, but can even the most fervent Republican, who doesn’t see that anti-gay bias is mere religious prejudice with a ribbon slapped on it, actually think that the threat of gay marriages is our top priority as a state? Even if you think it’s a good idea to repress gays with all the power government affords, well, flossing is important, too, but I sure don’t want a constitutional amendment demanding it.
Hearing Brady’s agenda, suddenly Gov. Quinn looks a lot better — taller, handsomer, with a fuller head of hair. I’d rather have a Quinn blundering around Illinois, patting his pockets looking for a pen, than a Brady — dynamic, energized, focused and committed to making Illinois a more intolerant, inhuman place to live.
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