Thursday, December 11, 2008

The Deal with Blagojevich

Dec. 17, 2008: A federal grand jury charges former Governor Ryan with corruption, alleging that over more than a decade in public office, he granted lucrative state contracts and leases to old friends in exchange for gifts, cash and luxury vacations for himself and his family, and with covering the deals up when quesioned by the authorities... (NYT)

It seems that Illinois can never get beyond its reputation. Of course, this is not to say it isn't true; just think of the Daley's! Indeed, Chicago is the city where dead people vote and people are angrier at the non-plowing of side-streets than a 10.25 income tax (not that there's anything wrong with that, of course.) But after the events of this week, Chicago has been greeted with a veritable slap in the face. Here we are, simply overjoyed by Obamarama (One quote in the New York Times today: "This is Presidential City, dude"), and our governor-- the first democrat to grace the gubernatorial seat in over three decades-- goes and does one of the most idiotic (and least subtle) acts of political corruption in the history of the state.

As a measure of the pride in this city’s connection to Mr. Obama, The Chicago Sun-Times printed extras of its Nov. 5 issue, the one whose front page declared, “Mr. President.” Oprah Winfrey, who broadcasts from here, waved a copy on her television show. In contrast, the front page of Wednesday’s Sun-Times carried the word “Shame.” (NYT)

When I tell Parisians that I'm from Chicago, two things immediately come to the mind: "OBAMA!" has been predominant since mid-October, but before then it was: "Al Capone, eh? Bang! Bang!" followed by appropriate gesticulation. It also doesn't help that the New York Times, in one allegedly objective article, described all Illinois voters corrupt and greedy by nature:

Ms. Smith, the nurse, said she was a “glass-is-half-full girl,” determined that politics would improve, even in Illinois. Besides that, she said, she hoped it was going to be helpful to have a local man as president.
Then she spoke like an Illinois voter.
“Let’s hope he doesn’t forget about Illinois when he’s in the White House,” she said. “Think of all the perks.”

Are Illinois residents really like this? Is the New York Times just being fascitious? Can it be true that after 14 years of Chicago residency that I let the midwestern goodwill cover up what is avaricious and rotten at its core? I think not! Corruption in politics does not equate personal moral corruption of the populace, thankyouverymuch.

Regardless, many facets of this whole debacle just don't seem real to me. Doubtlessly they are, but blatantly saying "I need to make money" over the telephone, while conscious of being under numerous federal investigations, is nothing less than... well, sheer stupidity.

(stolen from Nora's site)

There you have it. Illinois went from being the center of the world on election night to the laughing stock of the USA, and all in one month's time!

Perhaps the most depressing thing about all of this is the fact that Blagojevich was elected in the spirit of "change" and "reform" (ring a bell, anyone?), and yet ended up as corrupt as the rest, and in fact far less clever about it (at least George Ryan had the common decency to be subtle and conniving).

What can I say, Obama? You've got quite a home-state to fix, if such a thing is even possible (and Illinois residents are definitely known for their cynicism).,0,6937546.cartoon

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