Good old Blagojevich
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.”
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