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Under the bus: A look at Blagojevich’s new book

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* My weekly syndicated newspaper column is about Rod Blagojevich’s new book

As expected, former Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s new book paints himself as the hero of Illinois politics and blames everyone but himself for his troubles.

He also tries to settle an old score. Blagojevich’s longtime enemies House Speaker Michael Madigan and Attorney General Lisa Madigan are both attacked.

“I believe the two Madigan’s are not the people they pretend to be,” Blagojevich writes in his new book, “The Governor.”

“Both of them are surrounded by conflicts of interest and indiscretions in their public and private lives.”

Blagojevich doesn’t detail any “indiscretions” about either Madigan’s personal lives, but he does allege that Speaker Madigan’s property tax law practice is “unethical” and “very well may be illegal.” And if it’s not illegal, it should be, Blagojevich writes.

The irony of Blagojevich’s use of the word “indiscretion” is obvious and undoubtedly intended. Speaker Madigan once said of Blagojevich “I could talk about some of his indiscretions, but I don’t plan to do that,” after Blagojevich had singled Madigan out for criticism during his first gubernatorial campaign.

Blagojevich also alleges that Mike and Lisa Madigan sabotaged his legislative agenda because Blagojevich refused to contribute money to the Democratic Party of Illinois, which Mike Madigan runs.

The former governor asserts that both Madigan’s and others met with Blagojevich to persuade him to contribute to a fund for Democratic candidates. Blagojevich described the meeting as “an effort to muscle me for nearly $400,000 in campaign funds.”

Blagojevich added that Attorney General Lisa Madigan’s presence at the meeting was “incredibly unethical” because she had subpoenaed his campaign fundraising records.

After noting the details of the seating arrangements, Blagojevich wrote this of Speaker and Attorney General Madigan, respectively: “While dear old dad is literally and figuratively putting the arm on me from the left side, she is subtly holding a gun to my head from the right.”

A spokesman for Speaker Madigan said that the book’s publisher must have reneged on his pledge to force Blagojevich to take a lie detector test. “The guy’s a very troubled human being,” the spokesman said of Blagojevich, adding “Why anybody would pay attention to this is beyond me.”

Despite promising months ago to name names and spill the dirt on Illinois politics, Blagojevich does very little of that.

For instance, while discussing the allegations that he tried to sell Barack Obama’s US Senate seat, Blagojevich claims he never offered a quid pro quo on the seat. But, he writes that others “approached us about campaign contributions if I either appointed them or the person they were supporting to the Senate. If anyone should have been charged with a crime for this, it should have been them and not me.”

The ex-governor does provide an example of someone who mentioned campaign money in exchange for an appointment - but that offer doesn’t appear to have been direct. And he doesn’t give us the name. The former governor alleges that one of his close legislative allies who is also a “prominent” African-American state legislator brought up the subject.

Blagojevich alleged that the unnamed black legislator “intimated that his overflowing campaign fund might be available to me,” if Blagojevich ran for a third term as governor.

The legislator wanted to talk with Blagojevich in person, but Blagojevich claimed he canceled the meeting because he wanted to “avoid any conversations with anyone who could possibly be chosen as a senator who might say something that could be interpreted as improper.”

The former governor also noted that canceling the meeting probably saved this legislator from getting in trouble with the law, but that the legislator later voted to impeach him.

The book’s most useful passages imply what could be Blagojevich’s defense during his federal corruption trial. Essentially, chief of staff John Harris was to blame.

Harris was arrested the same day as Blagojevich, but he has since agreed to cooperate with the feds.

Blagojevich wrote that he intended to operate his administration, “effectively, honestly and always within the rules,” but then added he “relied” on Harris “to tell me what we could and could not do.”

“As Governor,” Blagojevich wrote, “I left those [operational] details in the hands of my chiefs of staff.”

That’s classic Rod Blagojevich. Throw everybody else under the bus.

* The former governor’s book tour has begun, and here’s a quick coverage roundup…

* Blago on Today: Shout it from the mountaintop

* Blagojevich says ‘simple truth‘ clears him: “When you’re an honest person … you want to tell the people who hired you (that) you didn’t let them down,” Blagojevich said while promoting his book, “The Governor.”

* Blagojevich goes on book blitz in New York: In keeping with his long-held position that he has been victimized by political enemies and “unethical” prosecutors, Blagojevich primarily blames his downfall on five people: House Speaker Michael Madigan, Illinois Atty. Gen. Lisa Madigan, U.S. Atty. Patrick Fitzgerald, convicted influence peddler Antoin “Tony” Rezko and his father-in-law Richard Mell (33rd).

* Blago: I’m the Anti-Nixon: “I’m the anti-Nixon, asking that these tapes be heard. My accusers are the ones who went to court and are keeping those tapes from being heard by the public. Someone’s lying here, and it’s not me.”

* ‘Askers’ got on Blagojevich’s nerves

posted by Rich Miller
Tuesday, Sep 8, 09 @ 10:31 am


  1. Assignment desk: ask him about Children’s Memorial Hospital

    Comment by Scooby Tuesday, Sep 8, 09 @ 10:34 am

  2. Ask Blago? More like ask Joe Ponsetto.

    Comment by Area 2 Tuesday, Sep 8, 09 @ 10:43 am

  3. Nice column Rich.

    Blagojevich is doing the book tour, tainting any jury pool all over.

    Comment by Third Generation Chicago Native Tuesday, Sep 8, 09 @ 10:50 am

  4. Enough of the appetizers - bring on the main course! Can’t wait till the main event - the trial will surely be the right venue to spill all for maximum effect. I’m sure all the evil doers are quaking in their boots fearing what RodB will say at the trial. NOT.

    Comment by dupage dan Tuesday, Sep 8, 09 @ 10:52 am

  5. I bet he takes the stand. I doubt it Judge Zagel will allow him to go on and on. He’ll have to answer the questions.

    Comment by wordslinger Tuesday, Sep 8, 09 @ 10:56 am

  6. Don’t forget eastern educated eletes. He blames them quite a bit as well.

    Comment by oneman Tuesday, Sep 8, 09 @ 11:01 am

  7. The only harm that could come to anyone being thrown under Blago’s bus nowadays is if it rusts out and collapses on them.

    Comment by Anon Tuesday, Sep 8, 09 @ 11:04 am

  8. No comment on Blago mentioning Rich Miller and the Cap Fax during his Sunday radio gig?

    Comment by Hank Tuesday, Sep 8, 09 @ 11:06 am

  9. Rich, I haven’t seen the book, but I am wondering how he manages to both attack the Madigans and also claim that “he was setting plans in motion to cut a deal with politically powerful Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan to push through a legislative package in exchange for naming the speaker’s daughter, Lisa Madigan, to the post,” as reported in the Sun-Times.

    Separate chapters? Or is this what he is saying in this media tour but not in the book?

    I am not suggesting there could be a line of logic in his thinking, but still, if he is talking to his lawyers even a little bit, how the heck does he think it does him any good to say he wanted to appoint someone “incredibly unethical” who had put a gun to his head to shake him down for campaign cash?

    Because he so badly wanted his health care bill? Gimme a break. His mind has melted.

    Comment by Linda Tuesday, Sep 8, 09 @ 11:07 am

  10. I remember clearly it was basically only Madigan that fought Blago’s every move. Madigan deserves a lot of credit on that front. It’s scary to think what Blago could have accomplished “illegally” had Madigan not run major intererence. The guy will say anything on Madigan. Why doesn’t he just say, “the man’s too powerful and been around too long.” Blago will say anything, but I think he will serve time.

    Comment by anon Tuesday, Sep 8, 09 @ 11:13 am

  11. Hank, I just heard of it. And from what I heard of it, he flat-out lied.

    Comment by Rich Miller Tuesday, Sep 8, 09 @ 11:21 am

  12. I see him not testifying in his own defense, but claiming that the prosecution has not made a sufficient case to differentiate political decision making from criminal conduct.

    And at the end, speaking on his own behalf to the jury in place of his attorneys in the closing remarks.

    (result - george ryan’s roommate)

    Comment by Capitol View Tuesday, Sep 8, 09 @ 11:22 am

  13. If this is what his defense strategy will look like, he is going to prison for a long, long time.

    Comment by Boone Logan Square Tuesday, Sep 8, 09 @ 11:37 am

  14. Rich are you saying Rod lied….


    Comment by oneman Tuesday, Sep 8, 09 @ 11:38 am

  15. ===I see him not testifying in his own defense===

    I tend to agree. I’m wondering whether he takes the OJ route and does the closing argument himself.

    Comment by Rich Miller Tuesday, Sep 8, 09 @ 11:43 am

  16. If Blagoof does take the stand how long will it take for him to 1)be found in contempt by the Judge or 2) perjur himself?

    Comment by Dan S, a voter and Cubs Fan Tuesday, Sep 8, 09 @ 11:44 am

  17. 2 powerful opposing views - how can he be so stupid by testifying? Can you imagine him keeping his mouth shut? This can be done if he does the closing argument as Rich suggests. Like his statement during the impeachment process. Allows him to pontificate without having to answer for the bull he spews. RodB thinks he can bamboozle the jury with his inate charm. Had worked during 2 gov campaigns, why not now. I think he would have to have the trial moved to neutral territory (Mars?) in order for that to work.

    Comment by dupage dan Tuesday, Sep 8, 09 @ 11:52 am

  18. If the mop-headed twit can’t even remember what’s in his book weeks after he “wrote” it, he oughta be quite a witness..for the G.

    AA can’t see any scenario where his lawyers let him get on the stand and be pounded. Rich, I could see a replay of his Hail Mary strategy from the impeachment trial, with similar results.

    Comment by Arthur Andersen Tuesday, Sep 8, 09 @ 11:58 am

  19. “I wonder whether he takes the OJ route and does the closing argument himself.”

    Well, he did it during the impeachment trial, so he’ll probably do it again — and probably with the same end result (conviction). Proving once again that the defintion of insanity is repeating the same action multiple times expecting different results :-)

    Comment by Secret Square Tuesday, Sep 8, 09 @ 12:03 pm

  20. “2009 Blagojevich’s Good Riddens Tour”
    Can’t believe the major networks buy into this crap!

    Comment by Hollis Elmore Tuesday, Sep 8, 09 @ 12:25 pm

  21. ===============
    “2009 Blagojevich’s Good Riddens Tour”
    Can’t believe the major networks buy into this crap!

    I agree. Today, I’d much rather hear more about the Fashion Trend with Toes, as reported in the Times this AM, than more about Blago’s HotAIR.

    Comment by Anonymous Tuesday, Sep 8, 09 @ 12:42 pm

  22. ++++I just heard of it. And from what I heard of it, he flat-out lied+++++
    No doubt. I have been in my car the past couple of weeks and have tuned in for the entertainment value. My ears perked when I heard the reference during one of his diatribes where he throws everything around to see what sticks to get a reaction from the callers.
    Unfortunately, too many still call to tell him that they have changed their minds about him since his radio gig began.
    I’ll stick to my prediction that he won’t go to jail

    Comment by Hank Tuesday, Sep 8, 09 @ 12:51 pm

  23. Why do so many people misspell riddance? Strange.

    Comment by Rich Miller Tuesday, Sep 8, 09 @ 12:51 pm

  24. That TODAY show interviewer either has had botox injections or has the best poker face in the face of utter ridiculousness that I’ve ever seen. That interview should come with a laugh track.

    Hey, notice they changed the cover art on Blago’s book? The first cover had a fake papertear down the middle and a head-on shot of Blago, HEAVILY air brushed or photoshopped. This new cover has him from the side, presumably on the one he talks out of.

    Comment by Gregor Tuesday, Sep 8, 09 @ 12:56 pm

  25. Some call Blagoof troubled and confused …actually he is a flippin nutball

    Anybody else wonder why any media outlet gives this whackjob any time or space?

    There are all sorts of crazy people wandering Michigan Ave or 2nd Street who get zero media attention. Blagoof is out there all day long

    Not real understandable

    Comment by CircularFiringSquad Tuesday, Sep 8, 09 @ 1:33 pm

  26. I wish I knew what to say. If he blames Harris, then why keep him as his CoS?

    Comment by Levois Tuesday, Sep 8, 09 @ 1:52 pm

  27. Unless he steps up and names names of who tried to buy the senate seat and gives details on the Madigan’s indiscretions people are going to tune him out very quickly. Maybe he could write another book with character names like lanigan for madigan and Jefferson jr. for Jackson jr. At least then it would be interesting.

    Comment by Fed up Tuesday, Sep 8, 09 @ 2:50 pm

  28. I have to go with Word and against Rich on whetehr he tales the stand. A lot of the time it is the defesne attorneys who protect their clients by keeping them off the stands through force of will. Blago however has never a pattern of ignoring good advice for the path he thinks is best. Given that Blago has already lost one defense attorney due to his obstinate failure to follow sound legal strategy I see no reason for him to start now.

    Comment by Ghost Tuesday, Sep 8, 09 @ 3:33 pm

  29. Take the stand? No previous convictions for impeachment, throws out a good line of BS, good con man personality. I can see it as a last ditch. Gonna depend on the evidence that comes in in the Government’s case. Hopefully the US Attorney does a quality job….AUSA’s are bright as hell, will outwork anyone, and are merciless.

    Closing argument? Don’t think the Court would allow that. Also, he’d want to make a speech instead of arguing evidence. That would be objectionable, and I’ll be the Judge would sustain that objection. He won’t feel the same obligation to be ‘fair’ that Cullerton did at the impeachment.

    One thing Citizen Blag will have to consider (but will probably ignore)…N. Dist. Ill. juries are pretty savvy. He won’t get a pool of dopes.

    I agree on 20 years away. The Judge will want to send a message loud and clear. And the 7th Circuit will be getting tired of all the political corruption cases as well. Good luck on appeal, ol’ Blag.

    Comment by Bobs yer Tuesday, Sep 8, 09 @ 9:20 pm

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