Jonah Goldberg / December 12, 2008

A Little Blago for Everyone

There are so many things to love about the Rod Blagojevich scandal it’s hard to know where to begin.

Wait. That’s not right. There are so many bleeping things to love about this bleeping-bleep Blagojevich scandal it’s hard to know where to begin.

For starters, the folks at the Chicago Tribune are Christmas Pony Happy because Blago tried to strong-arm Trib ownership to fire members of the editorial board. Instead, Trib editors will get to have a big tailgate party outside Blago’s cell window.

Newspaper people love that sort of thing.

For the more historically minded, it’s a time for nostalgia. The past comes alive as Chicago’s grand tradition of corruption is sustained for another generation. As the Chicago Tribune once wrote, “corruption has been as much a part of the landscape as corn, soybeans and skyscrapers.” According to the Chicago Sun-Times, as of 2006, when Blago’s predecessor, George Ryan, was sent to prison for racketeering, 79 elected officials had been convicted of corruption in the past 30 years. Among the perps: 27 aldermen, 19 judges, 15 state legislators, three governors, two congressmen, one mayor, two turtledoves and a partridge in a stolen pear tree. Especially in this holiday season, it’s so very important to keep traditions alive for the kids. In a sense, Blago did it for the children.

For partisans, there’s the schadenfreude that comes with watching the Democrats – self-proclaimed anti-corruption zealots in recent years – explain why Blagojevich shouldn’t be lumped in with Congressmen Charlie Rangel (cut himself sweetheart deals), William Jefferson ($90,000 in his freezer) and Tim Mahoney (tried to bribe an aide he was sleeping with not to sue him; and you thought romance was dead) as part of a new Democratic “culture of corruption” storyline.

There’s the enormous I-should-have-had-a-V8! moment as the mainstream press collectively thwacks itself in the forehead, realizing it blew it again. The New York Times – which, according to Wall Street analysts, is weeks from holding editorial board meetings in a refrigerator box – created the journalistic equivalent of CSI-Wasilla to study every follicle and fiber in Sarah Palin’s background, all the while treating Obama’s Chicago like one of those fairy-tale lands depicted in posters that adorn little girls’ bedroom walls. See there, Suzie? That’s a Pegasus. That’s a pink unicorn. And that’s a beautiful sunflower giving birth to a fully grown Barack Obama, the greatest president ever and the only man in history to be able to pick up manure from the clean end.

Obviously the list doesn’t end there. Blago’s hair not only appears bulletproof but seems to confirm reports that he is the human model for Playmobil action figures.

And you can’t leave out the supporting cast. Mrs. Blago curses like the inmate working the cafeteria at a women’s prison who replies with an f-bomb to anyone objecting to a leaden ladle-thwack of unidentifiable green mush on their lunch tray.

Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr., himself the son of a shakedown artist, is alleged to have offered (through a minion) a half-million bucks for Barack Obama’s vacant senate seat. Jackson replaced former Rep. Mel Reynolds, who went to jail for getting jiggy with a 16-year-old campaign staffer and stayed in jail because of various fraud convictions. Reynolds, in turn, was the “reformer” who had replaced Rep. Gus Savage, the thug-congressman who groped a Peace Corps volunteer in Zaire while on a “fact-finding” trip. Savage held off Reynolds’ attempts to replace him for several years by claiming Reynolds was financed by “racist Jews.”

Man, what isn’t there to love about Chicago politics?

It would be premature, not to mention un-festive, to discard any of these delicious immoral morsels from this cornucopia of corrupt crapulence. Fortunately, there’s no need to single out just one fragrance from this miasma of malfeasance or one dish from this smorgasbord of smut.

But, there is a nice moral to the story here. For the last several years, we’ve heard a lot about “new politics.” We are going to start fresh and put aside the old politics and the old ways. So far, it looks like Obama did nothing wrong, and I hope that remains the case. But it’s worth remembering that there really isn’t any such thing as a “new politics.” Politics is eternal because human nature is unchanging. Even Barack Obama, hero-saint light-worker Jedi Knight Messiah that he is, came from a political culture that would not be unrecognizable to Caligula.

Hopefully, Obama will take away from this the humility that comes with realizing we are all – even The One – built from the crooked timber of humanity. Hence the genius of the Founders who built a government that took our imperfection into account. As James Madison said, If men were bleeping angels…

© 2008 Tribune Media Services, Inc. 

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