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The governor is a cooked goose

Monday, Dec 29, 2008

* 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.

* Related…

* 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

- Posted by Rich Miller        


45 Comments
  1. - Fiefdomone - Monday, Dec 29, 08 @ 9:14 am:

    I’d be willing to bet that the legislature will not act to impeach and convict by 2/12/09. Who wants a piece of that?


  2. - phocion - Monday, Dec 29, 08 @ 9:21 am:

    Fiefdomone, I’d say the odds are 50/50. But I give Quinn some credit for setting a reachable, meaningful deadline. If the Illinois legislature wants to dawdle now, it’ll be egg on their collective faces.


  3. - Esteban - Monday, Dec 29, 08 @ 9:23 am:

    If Rich and Quinn are correct, then we can look
    forward to a Senate appointment BEFORE he gets
    the “boot”….


  4. - Cassandra - Monday, Dec 29, 08 @ 9:26 am:

    Quinn needs to set more than a deadline. He needs to develop a 100-day plan that mirrors the one Obama is consdering or perhaps has already adopted. After the Blago impeachment/Genson show hiatus, we all need to move on fast and let Blago fade into unpleasant memory status. Quinn’s people should should be ready to move in and start making decisions including encouraging a lot of Blago appointees to depart post haste without a fight.
    Fumigation is the right word.


  5. - Bill Baar - Monday, Dec 29, 08 @ 9:27 am:

    …will likely include a provision…

    He won’t be wrong till the likely happens.

    Omitting the auction of Obama’s seat from the impeachment articles omits the one crime everyone understands and is angry about. The rest of the crimes look like SOP for Illinois Politics.

    That 7% is small but the Gov knows how to play them and letting Fitz dictate how Springfield should legislate gives the Gov some leverage.

    He’ll use it. He’s entitled to it.


  6. - Retired State Employee - Monday, Dec 29, 08 @ 9:28 am:

    I agree with Rich. Currently Blago is the poster boy for political corruption not only on the state level, but the national level as well. Does any clear thinking individual really think the Illinois general assembly especially members of the democratic party will exonerate him? This would be political suicide.


  7. - Nice Try - Monday, Dec 29, 08 @ 9:28 am:

    I think Blago is going to be around until Jan 2011.

    He’s too good a scapegoat for all of Illinois’ problems, and removing him from office now jeopardizes uber-candidate Atty General Madigan Jr. chances of saving Illinois.

    If the General Assembly was smart, they’d keep him around, and blame every single problem on Illinois’ every growing list on him.

    Madigan Jr gets elected in Nov 2010, and Illinois is led into a golden age.


  8. - Capitol View - Monday, Dec 29, 08 @ 9:28 am:

    I think that it is safe to assume that the House will not send an impeachment resolution to the Senate until Emil Jones is retired. So the House accepts its pre-impeachment report and recommendations as the current session ends, and the new session picks it up as one of its first actions and impeaches the gov. It then goes to the Senate, (assuming Rod ever comes down to convene the new Senate), and the Senate goes through the formality of a trial in January, just so its legislative calendar is not set back by the focus. Or not — devote a week to it in early February. Either way, Pat Quinn is a prophet - or has been speaking with Da Speaker and John Cullerton.


  9. - Rich Miller - Monday, Dec 29, 08 @ 9:29 am:

    BB, try not to go all weird on us. 7 percent approval is not just small, it’s microscopic.


  10. - Leave a light on George - Monday, Dec 29, 08 @ 9:30 am:

    it would be a shame if nobody heard from Z. Scott before this impeachment process is over.


  11. - Ghost - Monday, Dec 29, 08 @ 9:32 am:

    The Cynic inside me sees a legislature that fears removal proceedings being brought against themselves. They seem more focused on making sure the process is such that it works against the Gov, but not against themselves, then obtaining releif for the public being crushed by the Gov’s refusal to honorably step aside.


  12. - Ivote - Monday, Dec 29, 08 @ 9:38 am:

    Nice analysis (as usual) Rich! Quinn has it right. The more this drags out the worse it is for all Illinois (except Blago). Bill Baar, no one has said the Senate seat issue will be left off the table in impeachment. . . keep in mind the legislature doesn’t need proof as in a courtroom. They can use the transcrips that have already been released. Plus I’ll bet there are PLENTY of stories already being told about individuals, groups and even legislaotrs being held up by the governor wanting more cash. Pay to play wasn’t invented by Blago, just perfected! Add abuse of power, failure to execute the office of Governor (I’ll bet there are hundreds of unfilled positions on non-paying Boards and commissions the Guv never got around to filling), and lots of other stuff. (Maybe they shuld throw in an “electoral fraud: count, for campaigning as a reformer!) As Rich has said, they only need votes, not a legal sound reason. Put another way, they only need whatever justification the public expects—which is not much, at this point. Face it, Mike Madigan would never have let the Impeachment resolution see the light of day if he didn’t absolutely, positively KNOW the votes were there to impeach. And Cullerton isn’t going to start his Senate Presidential career off by looking like the next Emil Jones. Yes, Governor-to-be Quinn ought to be doing a lot of planning for his administration.


  13. - Bill Baar - Monday, Dec 29, 08 @ 9:38 am:

    BB, try not to go all weird on us. 7 percent approval is not just small, it’s microscopic.

    Can Illinois politics get any weirder? That 7% is dogged, focused, and loyal.

    Plenty of Democrats worried Blagojevich will take them down too hence the rush to get rid of the guy.

    He won’t go down fast (note I’m not saying he won’t go down at all).

    But he’s got some leverage and sending him to trial in the Senate (sans Jones the 7 percenter) without the one crime everyone understands means the guys got a chance to drag this out for a very very long time…. maybe as long a time as it took Quinn to find the courage to speak out… i.e. years.


  14. - Rich Miller - Monday, Dec 29, 08 @ 9:46 am:

    BB, you’re also wrong about the Senate seat. They can still use it. See the other post which I just put up.


  15. - Rich Miller - Monday, Dec 29, 08 @ 9:55 am:

    ===That 7% is dogged, focused, and loyal. ===

    And your evidence that they will fight back hard in public for their guy is what, exactly? They seem awfully quiet to me. Maybe they’re just silly people.


  16. - Lurker - Monday, Dec 29, 08 @ 9:59 am:

    Leave a Light - good question re: Z Scott! Has anyone else noticed how eerily quiet the IL inspector general’s office has been (now under new leadership)? We haven’t heard a peep out of them for months on ANYTHING.

    And Rich, your column is right on. When it comes to an impreachment, it’s a matter of when, not if.


  17. - wordslinger - Monday, Dec 29, 08 @ 10:07 am:

    Finishing up business by Lincoln’s birthday is a worthy goal. I hope they make it. We’ve had enough humiliation here without Blago presiding over ceremonies marking the event.

    And contrary to what Fitz sad, I think Old Abe is probably having a good chuckle about home state’s governor and the former director of his museum and library. He was no stranger to the perfidies of men.


  18. - Anonymous45 - Monday, Dec 29, 08 @ 10:08 am:

    yes, let’s get Z. Scott to address the impeachment committee…that may be the only “witness” the committee needs to impeach his highness…

    Cassandra, I think Quinn is already working quietly behind the scenes doing just what you suggest…Quinn is not a narcissist…he usually has the best interests of the people in the mix…

    I say Lisa Madigan will not be elected in 2010 after Quinn is at the helm for 24 onths…haven’t we had enough of dynastic family inside politics in this state? Let ‘er wait until 2014…


  19. - Bill Baar - Monday, Dec 29, 08 @ 10:12 am:

    Genson’s gotta fire ‘em up!

    Everyday the Guv sticks around though, he’ll get stronger. Bumplers in Springfield taking orders from Fitzgerald and a Gov without scruples willing to fight as dirty as it can get… expect Genson to start stoking the fire big time.

    I’m not saying the Guv will win. And for sure I’m not saying he should win. But look at some of the midgets arrayed against him and that when can be pretty far off in the distance.

    Democrats supported the Guv and let this rot fester for years. Now we’re supposed to believe they want to clean house?

    Maybe Springfield should just close up and let Fitz do his job.


  20. - January Surprise - Monday, Dec 29, 08 @ 10:20 am:

    Just wait till the individuals below start start giving their testimonies in Springfield, Illinois.
    Dawn DeFraties and Michael Casey, who were fired and made a campaign scapegoat by Blagojevich for allegedly following orders to inject politics into CMS personnel decisions.
    Matt Magalis, a whistleblower fired for leaking a leaking a secret report to the media.
    Maria Besbekos, John Hegeler and Jim Fragakis - Illinois Tollway workers who claim they were fired to make way for political hires.


  21. - Anonymous - Monday, Dec 29, 08 @ 10:22 am:

    === Maybe they’re just silly people. ===
    Hey, watch it!


  22. - Carlos - Monday, Dec 29, 08 @ 10:37 am:

    Maybe those silly people will be the little people who bring down Rod Blagojevich’s corrupt empire.


  23. - Secret Square - Monday, Dec 29, 08 @ 10:50 am:

    For several years now, everyone in the state, it seems, has “known” that Blago was going to end up in jail sooner or later. For over a year there has been open talk of impeaching him. Now, all of a sudden, these talking heads have got people convinced he’s going to beat the rap?

    To the national pundits who never heard of Blago before Dec. 9, all this is new and shocking and the move to impeach seems like a “rush” to judgement. To Illinois residents, it’s been more like a slow, agonizing crawl to judgment that may finally be speeding up to a walk.


  24. - anon - Monday, Dec 29, 08 @ 11:05 am:

    Hey, look at the Kitty!


  25. - Dan S, a Voter and Cubs Fan - Monday, Dec 29, 08 @ 11:15 am:

    Waiting for Blagoof to be disposed of has been worse the Chinese water torture. Can we the taxpayers file a class action lawsuit for cruel and unusual punishment.


  26. - Dan S, a Voter and Cubs Fan - Monday, Dec 29, 08 @ 11:16 am:

    Enjoy, http://www.soundclick.com/player/single_player.cfm?songid=7134934&q=hi&newref=1


  27. - Anon - Monday, Dec 29, 08 @ 11:18 am:

    ==Maybe they’re just silly people. ==

    Has anyone noticed that, under the current administration, the budget for the Ministry of Silly Walks has gone up 150% faster than government spending as a whole?


  28. - Just a Question - Monday, Dec 29, 08 @ 11:28 am:

    What happens when the 95th General Assmebly adjourns sine die? Do they have to start over?


  29. - Ghost - Monday, Dec 29, 08 @ 11:33 am:

    If thy wait to vote on impeachment until the 14th, they do not need to start anything over.


  30. - DuPage Dave - Monday, Dec 29, 08 @ 11:37 am:

    I’ve worked in the polling/survey business and I’ve never heard of an elected official at any level with an approval rating as low as 7 percent. That isn’t just microscopic, it’s nonexistent. It’s really margin of error stuff. He’s got nobody now.

    Nixon fled on his helicopter in 1974 with a 24 percent approval rating, and yes, those people were “dogged, focused and loyal”. It used to be thought that was as low as you could go, but Blago has exceeded that threshold.

    Blago has absoltely no one on his side now. His last surviving politial pal Emil Jones is out the door an a couple of weeks.

    The feds put him in handcuffs. The GA will impeach and remove him probably on the timeline proposed by Quinn.

    Having to put up with this guy and his goons (especially having to take the “ethics test”) has been a huge pain in the neck. Good riddance.


  31. - Legal Insurrection Blog - Monday, Dec 29, 08 @ 11:49 am:

    Maybe realpolitik will prevail and the Senate will ram through the trial, but if it does so it will be ignoring the due process requirements of the Illinois Constitution which require the Senators to swear an oath to act according to law. The Senators are sitting as a jury, and by imposing the requirement of acting according to the law the Illinois Constitution seems to suggest a broader role for the Chief Justice in making rulings than the U.S. Constitution. If the Chief Justice finds evidence and witnesses relevant, will the Senate really overrule the Chief Justice on that issue of law? And will the Senate even adopt such rules, which are not contained in the only existing rules for impeachment in Illinois? I’ll stick to my view that if the Senate is to provide a fair trial, it will have to permit wide latitude for Blagojevich to defend himself. If the Senate doesn’t want to provide a fair trial, then I guess it won’t, and this may end up back in the Illinois Supreme Court (it will be hard for the State to argue against Supreme Court involvement considering the position taken on the TRO application). One of us, or maybe neither of us, will end up being correct.


  32. - Linda - Monday, Dec 29, 08 @ 12:25 pm:

    Blago has run out of cohorts.

    The banks, the other politicians,
    the local monied gentry. Many were running with him full speed six months ago (Jesse Jackson(D-5), Stroger(Cook County President), Jones(IL Senate President), Rich Daley(Chicago Mayor) and most other politicians on both sides. They may have protested (wink wink) but they took the money when Blago signed on for their pay raises two months ago.

    Now, no one knows him.

    And the media loves to pile on.

    It’s always “the children” when the media buries you. ” Oh he tried to muscle the Childrens Hospital.” BS alarm …

    They all muscle in on any project that is in the 100 million range.

    I never voted for Blago or Ryan, but this “holier than thou” presented by the press is total B.S.

    How about some details on pay outs to political law firms on Government bonding and Government contracts.

    Oh yeah that’s right … it’s legal if your “in the club”. Connected???

    What a cart load of B.S.


  33. - Thomas Westgard - Monday, Dec 29, 08 @ 1:23 pm:

    Gee, if somebody else “outs” people with something to hide, that takes an arrow from Blago’s quiver.

    Anyone want to help our courageous legislators out by revealing what he knows that he is likely using against various people?


  34. - Can't wait for the movie - Monday, Dec 29, 08 @ 1:51 pm:

    Rich, you should go copyright “Reign of Error” right away; it will make a great title for your book about this governor. I am so dying to read about your experience on the bus with him, I won’t even wait for the paperback version.


  35. - Whizbang - Monday, Dec 29, 08 @ 3:55 pm:

    While I would like to think he will be gone quickly I think it will take longer. Everybody in Springfield knew he was nuts a month after the first election. It took the state six years to believe us. And I don’t work for the state. Just in case I have forwarded him my resume for Senator. Sorry Bill. I NEED a job.


  36. - Anon3 - Monday, Dec 29, 08 @ 5:41 pm:

    Which senior Blago staff is now openly working with the Leut. Gov? Just six months ago they could have lost their jobs for just talking to his staff, what a change! I am sure they are all busy trying to position themselves and are updating the resume! Under siege I wonder if this administration has learned the difference between gov and campaign?
    I so many ways they have run the show like W and with the same sad results.


  37. - Gregor - Monday, Dec 29, 08 @ 6:03 pm:

    I heard Lavin from DCCA/DCEO is supposed to be one of Quinn’s advisors. That worries me, because Lavin was 100 percent behind those cooked-up job and business creation numbers Blago was constantly bragging on. He basically told DCEO and Employment Security to lie about the state’s economic and jobs figures, and these people toed that line for Blago heart and soul. DCEO is an agency ripe for a major purge, IMO.


  38. - wordslinger - Monday, Dec 29, 08 @ 6:09 pm:

    G, Didn’t Lavin come to government from a private sector job with Rezko? I doubt if Quinn would put him at the top of the heap. Quinn’s been out in the wilderness for years, and when he gets the top job, I suspect you might see some new faces.


  39. - Flat Cat.... - Monday, Dec 29, 08 @ 7:04 pm:

    Sorry, but the kitty has been thrown under the bus now too!


  40. - Loop Lady - Monday, Dec 29, 08 @ 7:13 pm:

    Wordslinger: One can only hope that this will be the case…Lavin and Rezko were involved in the Panda Express franchise expansion if I am not mistaken…


  41. - Arthur Andersen - Monday, Dec 29, 08 @ 9:46 pm:

    IIRC, Lavin was the CFO for Rezko’s Pander Express franchises just before going to DCEO. He also did a tour in the Treas’ office under Quinn.

    word, I agree that he should not be in the front pew of Cardinal Quinn’s new diocese. The other one that similarly stumps me is Hamer from Revenue. The quiet, nerdly persona may fool some; but beyond that is a guy who has coolly carried out every hiring/firing order handed down from the second floor and who eagerly embraced every goofy Filan consolidation/savings idea as good government, and then there’s those issues with the Gaming Board…

    Deputy Quinn, don’t shoot your self in the foot before you’ve mounted the big horse, k?


  42. - Mighty Mouse - Monday, Dec 29, 08 @ 11:58 pm:

    Rod is at 7% popularity, but people forget that Clinton hovered around 70% approval throughout the Lewinski affair. Night and day. Rod has no friends in the General Assembly while the proceedings against Clinton were a joke because the Republicans knew they needed Democrat votes, they knew they would get none and they didn’t. The Illinois legislature doesn’t need any big reason to kick out RB, they just need the votes and that’s why you can stick a fork in RB. He has no friends in the legislature so he’s done.

    As for Hamer, “Arthur Anderson,” that quiet, nerdy personality hides a very smart mind, 24 carat integrity and hard-working leadership by example. He’s probably the best of all the department directors, no Filan sycophant and he understands the first rule of Springfield, namely, he is not the governor. The Revenue department is well run. Just try and name one legislator who doesn’t think so.


  43. - Mighty Mouse - Tuesday, Dec 30, 08 @ 12:19 am:

    BTW Fiefdomone, I’ll take a piece of that action. RB will not only be gone before Feb. 12, he will be stepping aside sometime in the next few days. Surprise! And remember, you heard it here first.


  44. - Whizbang - Tuesday, Dec 30, 08 @ 12:04 pm:

    Darn. It looks like I still need a job. Good Luck Roland


  45. - Mighty M. Mouse - Monday, Jan 12, 09 @ 5:32 pm:

    I’m a little surprised Brian Hamer and Jack Lavin didn’t get fired just for talking to Pat Quinn. I thought they would be looking for a job by now, too.


Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.


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* "Chicago PD" Back In Uptown Filming March 29
* Enjoyed Get Out? Try The Belko Experiment and Raw.


* Rauner, Durkin Call on General Assembly to Pass I-55 Resolution
* Rauner Urges Swift Action on State-City Pension Deal as House GOP Readies Its Votes
* Governor Announces Appointment
* Governor Takes Action to Protect Taxpayers
* Vendor Contracted by Illinois Department of Employment Security Data Breached

  
* PRODUCT(RED) iPhone 7 gets modded for black facade
* Prototype 2017 Moto X showed up briefly on Google Plus
* Remember those iPhone 7 shells? An iPad bomb might’ve come into a terrorism plot
* Google silently fixed the Pixel’s Bluetooth disconnect issues
* How to Use Theater Mode on the Apple Watch in watchOS 3.2
* Moto X (2017) leaked to be somewhat uglier than the Moto G5
* Samsung’s refurbished Galaxy Note 7 won’t be sold in the United States

* Swarzak credits White Sox for added velocity
* Melky, Frazier launch blasts; Holland goes 6
* Soto happy to play mentor role for White Sox
* Rebuilding White Sox loaded with trade options
* Frazier relishing new situation on South Side
* Shields gets tuneup, Pena hits walk-off for White Sox
* Shields fires 5, Pena has White Sox walk-off


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