Being Rod Blagojevich

By Thomas, Suzanne Smalley Evan; Wolffe, Richard | Newsweek, December 22, 2008 | Go to article overview

Being Rod Blagojevich

Thomas, Suzanne Smalley Evan, Wolffe, Richard, Newsweek

There's no way to know why he sees politics as he does. But few seem surprised.

Rod blagojevich tells his friends that he has two heroes, richard nixon and elvis. it's hard to know what Nixon and Elvis have in common with a Democratic hack politician, aside from paranoia, delusions of grandeur and, in the case of Elvis and Blagojevich, at least, quite a head of hair. But politicians say and do strange things. Why did former New York governor Eliot Spitzer, who has a beautiful and loyal wife, hire hookers? Why did Bill Clinton have sexual relations with an intern next door to the Oval Office? (Why did Napoleon invade Russia? Why would anyone start World War I? The list goes on --) Last week, from the political wards of Chicago to the green rooms of talk TV shows, the experts pop-psycholo-

gized. Was the governor of Illinois wacko? Or really wacko? It seemed there was evidence to support both conclusions, starting with his delusional behavior in the days leading to his arrest. On Friday, Dec. 5, the Chicago Tribune printed that the Feds were wiretapping the governor as part of a long-term investigation into state corruption. On Monday Blagojevich told reporters, "If anybody wants to tape my conversations, go right ahead." Appearing at a factory sit-in, the governor, whose approval rating then stood at 13 percent, appeared unconcerned: "I don't believe there's any cloud that hangs over me. I think there's nothing but sunshine hanging over me." At 6 a.m. Tuesday, when the FBI woke the governor to tell him that agents were waiting outside with a warrant for his arrest, Blagojevich reportedly responded that it must be some kind of a joke.

The politics of Illinois suggest that, when it comes to American exceptionalism, the Good Lord has a sense of humor, a mischievous one. Illinois is the state that gave us Abraham Lincoln, "Honest Abe," and, if current expectations are to be believed, his reincarnation in Barack Obama. It is also the state where governors seem to get indicted about once a decade (four of the last eight have been; Blagojevich won by vowing reform after his predecessor, George Ryan, was convicted of racketeering). Yet with darkness comes light: the federal prosecutor who exposed Blagojevich's alleged misdeeds seems like a blend of Eliot Ness and the former altar boy he was. Patrick Fitzgerald told reporters that he stepped in to stop a "crime spree" in the governor's office that would make "Lincoln roll over in his grave." Blagojevich's chief of staff, John Harris, was arrested too; he resigned last week. And last Friday, Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan asked the state's Supreme Court for permission to seek the temporary removal of the governor. (A spokesman for the governor, Lucio Guerrero, said he could not comment on the charges; he referred newsweek to a Blagojevich lawyer, who did not return calls seeking comment.)

Illinois has a tradition of "pay to play" politics--no campaign contribution, no government contracts or favors. But then so do many states and, for that matter, Congress (where the custom is more politely referred to as "access"). What Blagojevich is accused of doing is flaunting his greed--on tape. According to the transcript of the federal wiretap, he announced, "I want to make money" and tried to shake down, among others, an official at a children's hospital (threatening to withhold $8 million for pediatric care until the official donated $50,000 to Blagojevich's campaign fund). Fitzgerald says he hung a for sale sign on the appointment of a replacement for Obama's vacated Senate seat. "I've got this thing, it's [expletive] golden, and uh, uh, I'm just not giving it up for [expletive] nothing. I'm not gonna do it. And, I can always use it. I can parachute me there," the governor tells an aide, according to the transcript, contemplating the idea of appointing himself to duck threats of impeachment from the state legislature.

Mud splattered on some nice suits. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Cite this article

Cited article

Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25,

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

Being Rod Blagojevich


Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25,

    New feature

    It is estimated that 1 in 10 people have dyslexia, and in an effort to make Questia easier to use for those people, we have added a new choice of font to the Reader. That font is called OpenDyslexic, and has been designed to help with some of the symptoms of dyslexia. For more information on this font, please visit

    To use OpenDyslexic, choose it from the Typeface list in Font settings.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search


    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.