* My latest Sun-Times column…
Everybody, calm down. This nightmare will soon be over.
I try to avoid cable TV news shows, but I tuned in this week to watch some of the talking heads grossly overreact to reports that U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald won’t cooperate much with the General Assembly’s attempt to remove Gov. Blagojevich from office.
The talking heads were babbling wildly over whether that meant Blagojevich might remain in office for the rest of his term.
Not a chance.
Nobody ever expected Fitzgerald to assist the impeachment process. His refusal was already factored in. The Legislature will still get Blagojevich, though.
Imagine what you would do to your state legislators if they voted to exonerate the governor. Not a pretty thought, eh?
Well, trust me, your legislators know exactly what’s going through your mind right now. No way will they let that guy off the hook.
Legislators don’t need “real” evidence to boot Blagojevich from office. This isn’t “CSI-Illinois.” The impeachment process is a political, not a legal process. And, politically speaking, Blagojevich is “Dead Man Walking.”
Yes, we can expect the governor and his attorneys to put on a show of force. Blagojevich’s fiery speech a week ago was a nice little preview.
My initial reaction to Blagojevich’s speech was that the governor had focused totally on himself. Ten percent of the words he used — 44 out of a 445-word speech — were personal pronouns like “I” or “me” or “my.” His extreme narcissism was on full display.
My conclusion was that Blagojevich had no cares whatsoever about the people of Illinois. This fight, like everything else in his rein of error, is all about him. The rest of us are mere spectators.
But a few legislators I know had a somewhat different take. When Blagojevich ranted, “I will fight until I take my last breath,” those legislators saw the gauntlet once again being thrown directly at them.
The word “impeachment” was first uttered publicly back in the summer of 2007, when the General Assembly and the governor engaged in a superheated, months-long battle. The governor and his henchmen reacted swiftly.
Legislators were threatened with direct retaliation. If they had a mistress, their wives would hear about it. If they had ever asked for an untoward political favor from the governor or his staff, they would be dragged through the mud right along with him. Every rumor they’d ever heard about personal or official corruption would be leaked to the media. It would be total war.
There is precedent for this. During Bill Clinton’s impeachment all sorts of nasty things came out about Clinton’s enemies.
But Clinton had the support of the voters back then, and a few reporters were more than willing to help the White House expose the rank hypocrisy of Congress’ ridiculous proceedings.
Unlike Clinton, Blagojevich has a 7 percent job approval rating. The vast majority want him removed from office and imprisoned.
And the comparison to legislative “wrongdoing” will be tougher to make. It’s doubtful that Statehouse reporters will “find” anything on any legislator that’s even close to auctioning off a U.S. Senate seat for personal gain. It would be an impossible comparison to make.
Still, nobody will be surprised if Blagojevich attempts retribution. A quick read of the FBI’s surveillance records clearly shows that’s his way.
The best defense for individual legislators is a good offense. Get it over with quickly and be done with him.
Also, this guy is wrong. The Senate’s rules for the impeachment trial will likely include a provision to allow the Senate to override any rulings made by Chief Justice Fitzgerald, who will preside. That’s the same rule used in Bill Clinton’s US Senate trial.
Again, take a deep breath and relax. I think Quinn may have it about right…
Lt. Gov. Pat Quinn said on CBS’ “Face the Nation” Sunday that he is certain scandal-plagued Gov. Rod Blagojevich will be out of office in less than two months.
Speaking from Chicago, Quinn said he believes the Illinois legislature will impeach Blagojevich by Abraham Lincoln’s bicentennial birthday celebration Feb. 12.
It may be a bit later than that, but if the rules are well-written, it won’t be too much longer.
* A Not-So-Accidental Governor
* Southern Illinois campaign contributor says he didn’t ‘pay’ for state appointment
* Corruption crisis creates confusion in Illinois
* National media in for a letdown