Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Blagojevich and the law

Strange as it may seem, I'm beginning to feel a little sympathy for Rod Blagojevich. Granted, he's not the kind of person I ever could imagine getting to like. Apparently he's a foul-mouthed bully who abuses his staff, so inflated with hubris it's a wonder he can fit through the courthouse doors.

It's easy enough to mock the hairstyle that looks like it was copied from a Japanese cartoon, and there's been some snickering at his ethnic name even in the most PC of media. Topping it all off, he's enough of an asshole to say potentially incriminating things on his office phone when he already knows he's under investigation.

But what, exactly, has he done? What, for that matter, has he tried to do, or suggested he might like to do?

Oh, that's right. We're all supposed to be terribly offended because he may have offered political favors and appointments -- including Barack Obama's vacated Senate seat -- for sale.

Well, face it, America -- our government has always been for sale, starting from when the founders instituted property requirements for voting. In the 19th century, Mark Twain observed, "We have the best Congress money can buy." If anybody thinks the reforms of the Progressive Era put an end to that, that person has no grasp of either history or politics.

How do you suppose somebody gets to become Ambassador to Lichtenstein? It's certainly not based on diplomatic skills or comprehensive knowledge of Lichtensteinian culture. How did lobbyists for major corporate interests wind up in charge of the federal agencies responsible for regulating those same corporate interests? What really is the difference between a large political contribution and a bribe?

Okay, I'll answer my own question. It is a difference of style, not of intent. Rod Blagojevich, as I'm sure you've noticed, is sorely lacking in style. His idea of a wink is a smack across the side of the head, and his idea of a nudge is a flying tackle. His is not the world of subtle, unspoken understandings. He likes his understandings clear and straightforward, clean and honest.

I believe Blagojevich sincerely believes he's done nothing wrong, and that is why he was so careless in his telephone conversations, and why he refuses to resign. He was just doing what American politicians have done for well over two hundred years -- so how could that possibly be unethical, much less criminal?

Ah, you poor sucker -- too open, too innocent, too honest!

Too bad.

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