01.26.09

The Best of Blago

As Rod Blagojevich’s impeachment trial kicks off today, it could spell the end of one of the most colorful political orators of our time. He quotes Tennyson; he compares himself to Nixon; he filibusters about cervical cancer. The Daily Beast presents the best Blago-isms.

As Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich prepares for his impeachment trial Monday, it is worth recalling the rich cultural legacy he has left us. Blago is the Huey Long of Illinois politics. And while he may never again reach his pre-indictment level of oratory (“I've got this thing and it's fucking golden, and I'm just not giving it up for fuckin' nothing”), he has managed to quote Kipling, Tennyson, even Elvis while mounting his defense. We present the Tao of Blago.

1. "December 9 to my family, to us, to me, is what Pearl Harbor Day was to the United States...It was a complete surprise, completely unexpected. And just like the United States prevailed in that, we'll prevail in this."
interview with the Associated Press, January 22

2. "I've pushed and prodded the system and tried to encourage the House to pass an expansion of the Illinois breast and cervical cancer programs so that the 261,000 uninsured women in Illinois can have the same access to routine mammograms and pap smears, breast and cervical cancer screenings that those women who have insurance have, so we can save lives and keep moms alive to care for their children. The House failed to act. So the House's action today and the causes of the impeachment are because I've done things to fight for families who are with me here today."
—to reporters on January 9, the day of his impeachment in the Illinois House of Representatives

3. "I appreciate anybody who wants to tape me openly and notoriously, and those who feel like they want to sneakily and wear taping devices, I would remind them that it kind of smells like Nixon and Watergate."
—to reporters on December 8, when reports surfaced he was being taped by federal investigators

4. "I don't believe there's any cloud that hangs over me, I think there's nothing but sunshine hanging over me."
—Dec. 8

5. [Quoting Lord Tennyson] “That which we are, we are. One equal temper of heroic hearts, made weak by time and fate, but strong in will to strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield."
—Jan. 9

6. "You might hear a couple of words that you might not hear publicly, but those are only adjectives to describe maybe some of you."
—Dec. 8

7. "I thought about Mandela, Dr. King, Gandhi and trying to put some perspective in all of this."
—to NBC's
Today Show , January 25

8. "Hang loose, to quote Elvis. Hang loose."
to eager reporters on December 18

9. "I'm not going to quit a job that people hired me to do because of false accusations and a political lynch mob."
—Press conference, December 19

10. “Feel free to castigate the appointer, but don’t lynch the appointee!”
—after introducing Roland Burris as his pick to fill Barack Obama’s U.S. Senate seat, December 30

11. "Rudyard Kipling wrote, 'If you can keep your head when all about you are losing theirs and blaming it on you; if you can trust yourself when all men doubt you and make allowance for their doubting, too; if you can wait and not be tired by waiting; or being lied about, don't deal in lies; or being hated, don't give way to hating.'"
—Dec. 19

12 . "Now, I like old movies and I like old cowboy movies, and I want to explain how these rules work in a more understandable way. There was an old saying in the Old West: There was a cowboy who was charged with stealing a horse in town and some of the other cowboys, especially the guy whose horse was stolen, were very unhappy with that guy. One of the cowboys said 'Let's hang him.' And the other cowboys said, 'Hold on. Before we hang him, let's first give him a fair trial, then we'll hang him.' Under these rules, I'm not even getting a fair trial; they're just hanging me. And when they hang me under these rules that prevent due process, they're hanging the 12 million people of Illinois who twice have elected a governor."
—news conference, January 23

13. "'Let me simply say I feel like the old Alan Sillitoe short story 'The Loneliness of the Long-Distance Runner’... and that's what this is by the way, a long-distance run."
—Jan. 9

14. "I should say if anybody wants to tape my conversations, go right ahead, feel free to do it."
—Dec. 8

15. "The House is impeaching me for that? Is that an impeachable offense?"
—Jan. 9

Compiled by Ben Crair and Benjamin Sarlin