I am surprised by the false indignation and phony outrage by our political leaders over Illinois Governor Blagojevich’s horsetrading for Obama’s open Senate seat.

Blagojevich was secretly taped wanting to be paid off for filling the open seat.  Reports are he wanted $300,000.00USD from the Obama campaign to pick their pick.  Blagojevich was denied.

Open rumors also suggested those supporting Jesse Jackson, Jr. for the appointment offered Blagojevich between $500,000.00 and $1 million. 

What I find strange is that so many people are pretending to be surprised and outraged by this sort of dealing.  Nobody gets something for nothing.  I guess Blagojevich’s error was being too blunt about the situation and actually using the phrase “pay to play.”  

A Senate seat is valued at $6.2 million — so even a $1 million dollar payoff is, frankly, a smart business decision.  We all know politics is a corrupt business and the ground rules haven’t changed since the condition of the human species first set foot to dirt.

The error Blagojevich made was not being greedy or crass — his mistake was in getting caught on tape doing ordinary political business.  He should have been smarter and quieter and a little less desperate.


  1. It’s a shame that politics sells so easily while NPR languishes and has to make cuts for the want of $25 million.

  2. David,
    It’s a little disturbing that Obama is shying away from confronting this issue by just saying things like —
    “It is a sad day for Illinois. Beyond that I don’t think it’s appropriate to comment.”
    not only because it involves him directly in a way but because it is exactly the kind of thing that he spoke of when he spoke about changing the way things are done in Washington during his campaign.
    This article illustrates how critical a challenge this is for Obama —

  3. I read about the NPR cuts, Gordon. It was shattering.
    Politics is a filthy business — and the long line of governors condemning Blagojevich is so sickening because you know they all have backroom deals that enriching their private pockets as we speak.

  4. Dananjay —
    I think Obama’s Chief of Staff might be in the Blagojevich mix. Rahm is going to have a hard time explaining away any conversation he had with the indicted governor. I think Obama is trying to cover the necessary option of cutting off Rahm if it comes down to saving his presidency in its infancy.

  5. Do we need Blagojevich to play along or we need to weed out all Blagojevichs from the system?

  6. Katha —
    If you remove all the Blagojevichs from the system, we’d have no government. Some say we need to pay higher salaries to stop this sort of corruption of public officials, but we both know that will only raise the stakes. This isn’t about money. It’s about power.

  7. It is ridiculous, Nicola! Here’s Frank Rich’s take on the morass in today’s NYTimes:

    ROD BLAGOJEVICH is the perfect holiday treat for a country fighting off depression. He gift-wraps the ugliness of corruption in the mirthful garb of farce. From a safe distance outside Illinois, it’s hard not to laugh at the “culture of Chicago,” where even the president-elect’s Senate seat is just another commodity to be bought and sold.
    But the entertainment is escapist only up to a point. What went down in the Land of Lincoln is just the reductio ad absurdum of an American era where both entitlement and corruption have been the calling cards of power. Blagojevich’s alleged crimes pale next to the larger scandals of Washington and Wall Street. Yet those who promoted and condoned the twin national catastrophes of reckless war in Iraq and reckless gambling in our markets have largely escaped the accountability that now seems to await the Chicago punk nabbed by the United States attorney, Patrick Fitzgerald.
    The Republican partisans cheering Fitzgerald’s prosecution of a Democrat have forgotten his other red-letter case in this decade, his conviction of Scooter Libby, Dick Cheney’s chief of staff. Libby was far bigger prey. He was part of the White House Iraq Group, the task force of propagandists that sold an entire war to America on false pretenses. Because Libby was caught lying to a grand jury and federal prosecutors as well as to the public, he was sentenced to two and a half years in prison. But President Bush commuted the sentence before he served a day

    Ombama seemed to sniff him out early and kept him at arm’s length — that’s a very good thing.

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