January 24, 2009
BY CAROL MARIN Sun-Times Columnist
"No man is an island . . ."
----John Donne, Meditation XVII
Rod Blagojevich might have made John Donne revise his thinking.
The walls are closing in on our isolated governor. A former Golden Gloves boxer, he's in the ring alone, swinging wildly, bouncing off the ropes, punching the air. The first round of his latest media blitz began Friday on WLS radio's "Don Wade & Roma" show.
It was a virtuoso performance.
Passionate and populist, it was also unadulterated poppycock.
The governor pretends that as the state Senate prepares to gavel in his impeachment trial Monday in Springfield, he would move heaven and earth to be there. If it were a fair trial, that is. If he could call witnesses, that is.
This is a governor who barely bothered to go to Springfield to govern.
Why would we believe he wants to go there now?
On the show, Rod Blagojevich, student of history, declared, "I like to think of myself as Teddy Roosevelt."
What? Charging up San Juan Hill? Leader of the Bull Moose Party? The only bull in evidence Friday morning was of the more predictable variety.
The Senate trial is "a sham impeachment" Blago protested, which is why his lawyers refused to file an appearance before the Senate or submit a witness list.
Then, doubling back, the governor who wouldn't provide a witness list wailed, "Just let me bring my witnesses in to show people, and to have them under oath testify before the Senate, that I have not done anything wrong, and I've done most things right."
Apparently, meeting a witness-filing deadline wasn't one of them.
Neither the Senate prosecutor nor the governor's lawyers will be allowed to subpoena certain witnesses, namely anyone the U.S. attorney says he needs for the federal criminal indictment he will bring against Blagojevich, so both sides suffer from the same limitation on that count.
But there's plenty of written record that could be introduced by the governor and plenty of others he could call to testify who are not restricted by the U.S. attorney.
But that wouldn't serve Blago's purposes as he pivoted from victim to boogeyman.
"They want to get me out fast," he earnestly told Don and Roma, "so they could put a huge income-tax increase on the people of Illinois. . . . It's either going be a 66 percent income tax increase or a 33 percent income tax increase. And they want to raise the sales tax on gas."
If the victim routine wasn't enough, or the Friday the 13th tax fright didn't work, the governor had another tack. Rod the Warrior declared he was "a soldier for constitutional rights."
That's right, the governor would have us believe that, but for him, the craven politicos who populate government would repeal the Constitution with his impeachment and he must save us from that.
On some strange level, you have to admire the fact that the governor is able to get out of bed in the morning and gather the energy to fight another day, unafraid and unembarrassed to condemn a "political-industrial complex" (the likes of which he milked for millions in campaign contributions) or to decry "all these phony politicians in faraway places (when he has all but earned a Ph.D. in phony).
In the end, the governor's talk-radio performance was nothing but an audition for the paycheck and the bully pulpit he will desperately need after he is removed from office. He has been offered a gig at WLS.
It's a perfect fit.
It will be a place where the governor can proclaim his innocence, denounce his enemies and quote the poetry he loves. Maybe even John Donne. Not that first line about no man being an island. It's the last line about asking not for whom the bell tolls, because we already know.
"It tolls for thee."