Tuesday, December 9, 2008

The Fall of Rod

Alas, Rod Blagojevich, corrupt soon-to-be-former Governor of Illinois, we hardly knew ye. And it’s probably just as well. Let this be a lesson to us all: never elect a candidate for governor who promises tax cuts on the back of cutting waste in the public universities – such people cannot be trusted. Of course, no one predicted that Governor Blagojevich would go so far as to nakedly try to sell the Senate seat of the President-elect of the United States to the highest bidder, but the point remains.

A few observations:

You have to go back to 1994 for the last time the good people of Illinois elected a governor whose tenure did not end in an arrest for corruption (as seems likely for Rod).

To impeach Blagojevich, the Illinois House of Representatives must investigate the charges against him, then recommend an impeachment trial in the Illinois State Senate. There’s been talk of impeaching Blagojevich for some months in connection with the Tony Rezko business, but it hadn’t gone far - much of it was the usual haziness of state-level corruption changes.

To move forward with the impeachment investigation, the Speaker of the Illinois House would have to create a commitee to do so. Speaker Michael Madigan’s antipathy for Blagojevich is well known, but the matter is complicated somewhat by the fact that Speaker Madigan’s daughter, AG Lisa Madigan, appears to be Senate Candidate Number 2 referred to in the indictment.

Should the committee recommend impeachment, the trial by Senate would take place on the home turf of Emil Jones, the outgoing President of the Senate, an ally of Gov. Blagojevich’s, one-time Obama mentor, and possible Senate appointee himself. The question now, though, is whether Jones was ever in serious consideration, given that his friends may well have been priced out of the market as Blagojevich’s bag-man, Chief of Staff John Harris, tried to shake down the likes of SEIU and Warren Buffet?

So, Blagojevich’s fate now rests with legislative bodies ruled by the father of a now-tainted (and presumably perfectly innocent) Senate appointee-prospect, and an ally whose claim to the Senate is almost certainly hopeless. Resigning now might be less painful.

Final point: Ben Smith reports that this morning’s arrests may have been the result of swift action by Rahm Emmanuel, responding himself to a shakedown attempt. All right and proper on Rahm’s part, of course, but here’s a thought – having taken down Rod Blagojevich, elevated Bill Richardson to Commerce and Janet Napolitano to DHS, and considering elevating Arnold Schwarzenegger to energy czar, Jennifer Granholm to Transport, and Kathleen Sebelius to Labor or Education, Rahm and the Office of the President-elect may end up removing from power over 10% of the nation’s governors. If I were Duval Patrick, I’d sleep with one eye open.

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