The Daily Beast's Christopher Buckley on how the governor's foul-mouthed phone calls have helped the nation rediscover its priorities—and taken our minds off the frivolous stuff, like the massive economic crisis.
Under the category of I turn my back for just ten minutes and this has to happen? Well, what should I have expected? After all, this blog is titled “What Fresh Hell.”
I am abroad, in places where communication with the wider world has been a bit hit-and-miss. Experienced traveler that I am, I managed to leave my adapter plug at home, and every time I presented my 110-volt plug, the person behind the desk either laughed or shook their head the way stockbrokers do these days when you ask if you have any money left.
When I finally made it out of the forest and got my mitts on a newspaper, there was a photo of someone who looked either like Tom Berenger after a massive Botox injection, or yet another Baldwin brother, ducking furtively into a van. (Future Illinois appointee-senators and, for that matter, prospective governors, take note: That stoat-like sideways glance is not a winner, photo-op-wise.)
How good to have another Jesse Jackson scandal. It has been too long.
I come late to this feast. Doubtless you are already drenched in incisive commentary by our nation’s punditariat and blogotariat, so I won’t belabor you as I prepare to fly home to the land of Lincoln (oh dear, dear, dear) but to add my 50-pence worth:
1. Thank heavens Mr. Fitzgerald has given us another juicy political crisis to keep our mind off bailouts, the greatest economic crisis since the Depression, and our wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. For a minute there, it looked we were might have to concentrate on The Big Picture. How much more diverting to focus on the villainy of a potty-mouthed Illinois pol. He manages to make Rahm Emanuel sound like an altar boy.
2. Governor Blagojevich (pity, I was just learning how to spell his name) has done the impossible: He has caused Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid finally to make an exciting utterance: “Governor Blagojevich should under no circumstances make an appointment.”
3. The governor is clearly no mere dastard, but The Artful Dodger Meets Dick Cheney. According to The New York Times, “…the governor is known to prefer to avoid his offices here and in Springfield to work alone at his North Side home or some other unofficial location.” A governor who avoids his offices and who prefers to work at an undisclosed location? What, pray, did the good people of Chicago make of such transparency?
4. How good to have another Jesse Jackson scandal. It has been too long. Yes, yes, I know, “Candidate 5”—sounds like a beauty competition contestant, only…not—has loudly proclaimed his innocence, saying that he has done nothing wrong and was unaware that the selection process had been corrupted. Give that man the 2008 Captain Renaud “I’m shocked, shocked!” award. Corruption? In Illinois, where a mere five governors since 1960 have been indicted for corruption? Perish the thought.
5. Let us pause, amid our ululations, to admit that there is something almost magnificent in Governor Blagojevich’s refusal to resign. He is also lighting us the way to bold new procedural avenues of rascal-disposal. The state’s attorney general (also known as “Candidate 2”) says that an impeachment proceeding might take too long, and that perhaps the better way would be simply to have the state Supreme Court declare him unfit. I didn’t know they could do that, but I’m glad to learn they can.
6. It even has a just-in-time-for-the-holidays element. We learn that the good governor was withholding money to Children’s Memorial Hospital in Chicago, pending a $50,000 payoff. God bless us, every one!
Christopher Buckley’s books include Supreme Courtship, The White House Mess, Thank You for Smoking, Little Green Men, and Florence of Arabia. His journalism, satire, and criticism has appeared in The New Yorker, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Vanity Fair, Vogue, and Esquire. He was chief speechwriter for Vice President George H.W. Bush, and the founder and editor-in-chief of Forbes FYI.