Turns out that I’m continuing to grow more and more right about Burris’s corruption! What is it that makes me so incredibly insightful? Well, for one thing, as I have already noted, Blagojevich’s behavior has been characterized by a corruption so thorough-going as to almost represent a consistent ethical position. Would he give up that sterling record easily? The fact that he would try to shake down Burris even after being arrested increases the odds that Blagojevich is genuinely delusional enough to think that his attempts at a quid pro quo with the senate seat were completely fine.
Another point: Burris wanted that senate seat way too badly. Anyone else wouldn’t have accepted the position in the first place and certainly would’ve stepped aside when it became clear that the Senate was trying to find a way to avoid seating him. But Burris isn’t just any other guy — he’s the kind of guy who built a monument to himself and left extra space for future achievements. Naturally, he really, really wanted to add that senate stint to his amazing resume.
In short, the Burris appointment was an amazing confluence of corruption, delusion, and megalomania. Blagojevich effectively screwed over an accomplished public servant in one of his last acts in office — but that public servant was just begging to be screwed.
Hey, everyone! Remember back when Burris was appointed and everyone assumed that this was Blagojevich’s attempt to claim, “See, everything really is above board!” and I wrote a completely comment-less post suggesting it would be otherwise? Looks like I may have been on to something, at least on the level of Blagojevich still trying to get some benefit out of his appointment power.
Meanwhile, Yglesias appears not to realize Blagojevich (or, in his rendering, “Blagojevic”) has already been impeached.
Rod Blagojevich contends that the conversations the FBI recorded are being taken “out of context.” I think it’s fair to say that the “context” is the same as when any politician defends themselves from “out of context” quotations — the “context” is that he thought everyone listening would be okay with what he was saying. When you transfer it to the “context” of the general public, well then of course it sounds bad!
Courtesy of TPM:
Obama should consider naming Blagojevich his press secretary.
Conventional wisdom has it that Blagojevich’s nomination of Burris is completely above board and therefore a strategy to undercut the federal prosecutor’s case. However, one wildcard hasn’t been factored in here: Blagojevich is both stupid and insane. With that in mind, what are the odds that we actually will find that some kind of payoff has taken place?
David: So: Can Blagojevich pardon himself?
David: I’m going to write a letter to the editor suggesting that Blag. should just pardon himself so we can get back to the important business of the state.
Adam: It’s unclear whether self-pardons are permissible — at least on the federal level. Though apparently if Bush pardoned himself, he could be charged with obstruction of justice.
David: Leading to him pardoning himself again? Whoa.
Adam: Preemptive pardons are possible, too.
Adam: Well, preempting charges or investigations. I don’t know if truly temporally preemptive pardons are possible — “I pardon myself of all previous crimes and of the obstruction of justice charge that will result from this pardon, to infinity + 1.”
David: I hope it’s not too much to ask that eventually mathmaticians get involved on this.
Adam: “The Supreme Court ruled today that infinity + 1 isn’t a real number, casting doubt on the resolution of a number of playground disputes in the process.”
David: Calculists everywhere were left jobless.
Given my strong record of hating Blagojevich — many people e-mailed and IMed to congratulate me on his arreset — it was perhaps surprising to some that I did not post on the topic yesterday. In any case, here I am, with two observations:
- Blagojevich is showing a degree of consistency that is, in itself, almost admirable. In fact, it reminds me of the Parable of the Dishonest Manager, my personal favorite — he is accused of corruption, and in order to escape the situation and assure himself some kind of future, he engages in even more corruption. Sadly, there is no one admiring his shrewdness and commending him in this case, because….
- the man has clearly never watched a mafia movie. I mean, seriously — talking on the phone? Talking about these plots in your office? It’s not as though he could possibly have thought the feds “weren’t onto him” — the case against him was extremely well-publicized and reporters asked him about it constantly. And this is a guy who was a former prosecutor! He could not possibly fail to know that wiretaps of various kinds were part of the process.
I think we have a clue in his statements in response to reports about the wiretaps — he claimed that they can go ahead, because everything he’s saying is legal. We are forced to confront the unimaginable possibility that he really does think that. Even now, he may sincerely fail to understand that his machinations with regard to the senate seat were inappropriate — much less the absolute outrage that everyone agrees they were.
Here it might be helpful to distinguish between the sociopath and what I will call the Blagojevich type — since there is a real possibility that he is sui generis. A sociopath has no moral compass, but is aware of the moral compass of others. That is how he is able to get away with things. Similarly, the sociopath has no real sense of loyalty, etc., but understands that others do and is therefore able to manipulate them. The Blagojevich type shares with the sociopath the lack of moral compass and any non-self-serving emotion, but with a crucial omission: basic self-awareness.
On the model of a Scooby Doo villain, the only appropriate thing for the Blagojevich type to say when caught is, “And I would’ve gotten away with it, too, if it weren’t for myself!” Yet precisely because he is a Blagojevich type, he can’t understand the concept of self-undermining. Instead, the Blagojevich type says, “When this blows over, I’m just going to appoint myself to the senate and start laying the groundwork for my 2016 presidential run.”
What is so awkward about Obama continuing to act as a senator until he is sworn in as president? He is, in fact, a senator, at least until his planned resignation Sunday. He is not yet president. It is said that he will continue to participate in the negotiations. Why gratuitously deprive his party of a vote?
I am also interested to learn that Obama’s original plan was to serve one term in the Senate, then return to run for governor of Illinois. I’m sure that Blagojevich is relieved to have dodged that bullet, though the classic “federal indictment” and “well-funded primary challenger” bullets still remain to be dodged.
Last week, Obama intervened into an Illinois controversy. The legislature passed an ethics bill, but Gov. Blagojevich deployed his “amendatory veto” in such a way as to gut the bill. The legislature has only a certain amount of time to attempt to override a veto, and Senate President Emil Jones, Blagojevich’s closest (and apparently only) ally, appeared to be gaming the system to make sure the senate wouldn’t be able to convene in time. Obama called Jones, his “political mentor,” to tell him to stop. Jones agreed to have the senate meet in a timely fashion.
In response, Blagojevich claimed that Obama was playing into Republican hands by opposing Blagojevich’s edits to the bill and was doing a huge favor to the McCain campaign. For those of you inclined to give a Democratic governor the benefit of the doubt, let me assure you: this claim makes absolutely no fucking sense. In fact, I literally cannot imagine what Blagojevich was thinking when he said it — perhaps that’s something we can ponder in comments.
Now this morning we find that the McCain campaign has announced an ad attacking Obama for his Illinois connections, including his close association with William Daley (brother of Mayor Daley), Tony Rezko, Emil Jones, and… Rod Blagojevich.