* My Sun-Times column…
There’s no real mystery to understanding Rod Blagojevich.
He was, and still is, a failed wannabe gangster.
Not a real gangster who pops caps in people’s behinds. Blagojevich tried to model himself on movie gangsters.
The guy even quoted a character from “The Godfather, Part 11” during a joint session of the Illinois General Assembly.
“This is the business we’ve chosen,” said an angry Hyman Roth to Michael Corleone in that classic film that just about everyone in politics has studied beginning to end.
Blagojevich once said the very same thing during a State of the State address.
His flashy, expensive clothes, his gigantic posse, his brash swagger all point to the wannabe gangster type. I mean, the man is broke but he still had a driver take him to court every day? That’s gangster if I ever saw it.
The thing is, Blagojevich was never much good at the gangster role.
Sure, he had most of the theatrics down, but aside from firing a bunch of helpless state workers without the proper political connections, he was a failure right down the line.
Blagojevich declared war on House Speaker Michael Madigan when he was still in the Illinois House. By 2007, all hell had broken loose. This was supposed to be his Michael Corleone moment, when he would wipe out all his enemies in one fell swoop.
Instead, the fight lasted two years and ended with a paranoid and deranged Blagojevich caught on FBI wiretaps plotting ways he could leverage Barack Obama’s U.S. Senate seat to get himself appointed to a Cabinet post, or a cushy job making big bucks or raking in tons of campaign contributions from U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. Madigan’s obvious desire to pursue impeachment charges and Obama’s rise to the nation’s top job had finally collapsed Blagojevich’s insane belief that he was the one destined for the White House, and he didn’t handle it well.
Remember his enraged rant when he discovered his job approval rating had sunk to 13 percent?
“I f—ing busted my a– and p-ssed people off and gave your grandmother a free f—ing ride on a bus. OK? I gave your f—ing baby a chance to have health care. I fought every one of those —holes including every special interest out there. … And what do I get for that? Only 13 percent of y’all out there think I’m doing a good job. So f–k all of you!”
When I heard that, I immediately thought of another rant by a failed wannabe movie gangster, Fredo Corleone.
“I’m your older brother, Mike, and I was stepped over!” Fredo screamed at Michael Corleone.
“That’s the way Pop wanted it,” Michael calmly responded.
“It ain’t the way I wanted it!” Fredo shouted back. “I can handle things! I’m smart! Not like everybody says, like dumb. I’m smart and I want respect!”
Fredo’s life ended not long afterward, shot in the back of the head at sundown while fishing with a “family” friend. Blagojevich’s political life ended not long after his rant was recorded, arrested by FBI agents at his home one morning before sunrise.
Like Fredo, Blagojevich was far too interested in the flashy life to take care of business, though both were convinced they were destined for greatness. Fredo’s botched shortcut up the family tree by helping a rival gangster try to kill his own brother undid him.
Blagojevich’s illegal shortcuts resulted in a 14-year prison sentence and permanent infamy.
So, maybe the former governor can console himself with the fact that he’s still alive.
* Then again…
Ryan is now serving his sentence of more than six years at a federal prison camp in Terre Haute, Ind., where he lives in dorm-style housing.
But Blagojevich might expect a more harsh situation, at least at first. Inmates sentenced to more than 10 years are generally sent to secured prisons, said Federal Bureau of Prisons spokesman Edmond Ross. [Emphasis added.]
* In other news, Scooter has urged Blagojevich to game the system…
Scott Fawell, the former chief of staff of a different convicted governor, George Ryan, is offering a tip on how Rod Blagojevich can cut his lengthy 14-year sentence.
The former governor may be able to make a request with the U.S. Bureau of Prisons to take part in a substance abuse program.
Fawell said that’s what he did before going into prison.
“What you do is say that in between the time you’re sentenced and the time you report, you just couldn’t stop drinking,” Fawell said.
It shaved time off of Fawell’s 78-month sentence he received for corruption that happened while he worked for Ryan. He went through a nine-month program in prison, then got six months off in a halfway house plus one year of credit for doing the program. That’s on top of time off for good behavior.
“I didn’t want to do it at first. I said: ‘I’m going to save a little shred of dignity,’ ” he said. “But it’s the only game in town. It’s the only way you can get time off” in the federal system.
* VIDEO: Jackson: I Didn’t Know Blago Had a Brother
* Jesse L. Jackson Jr.: ‘I will be vindicated’
* Robert Blagojevich’s tears for his brother: ‘It’s just grossly unfair’
* Robert Blagojevich feels for his brother
* VIDEO: Gov. Pat Quinn on Rod Blagojevich’s sentence
* VIDEO: David Letterman - Rod Blagojevich Top Ten
* VIDEO: Thomas Glasgow Discusses 14 Year Federal Prison Sentence for Rod Blagojevich
* Editorial: Blago sentence could start a new era