ROD BLAGOJEVICH was back on CBS’s Early Show yesterday to “bring his case” to the public as his impeachment trial in Springfield grinds on.
Most of us are still trying to get over the shock and embarassment of finding out just what a crook Blago is, and the added humiliation of his refusal to simply resign.
But here’s what Blago had to say about his situation: “But if you’re asking me do I see myself like a modern-day Frank Capra movie, and I’m the Jimmy Stewart or Gary Cooper character, a guy idealistically trying to do what’s right for people, fighting a system, and then be pushed back? Yeah, I see myself that way.”
We should be ashamed of ourselves. We’ve all doubted Rod, just as the deceived citizens of his home state doubted Junior Senator Jefferson Smith in Frank Capra’s 1939 “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington.” Truly, it is like the proverb: Those who are ignorant of movie history are condemned to repeat it. Now that the scales have fallen from my eyes, I’m beginning to see that, indeed, Blagojevich and Smith are cut from the same cloth. Let’s compare:
OCCUPATION BEFORE POLITICAL CAREER:
Jefferson Smith was the head of the Boy Rangers. Rod Blagojevich…well, actually he’s always been in politics. After getting his J.D. from Pepperdine he became a clerk for Chicago Alderman Ed Vrdolyak, who was later indicted for mail fraud. Just think of Vrdolyak as one in a series of Jim Taylors.
NOTABLE ACTIONS IN OFFICE:
Smith only had one piece of legislation, so it’s unfair to compare his achievements to Blagojevich’s impressive roster: Spending $2.6 million for flu vaccine that never entered the country, 12 federal investigations since 2005, bankrupting the CTA…
WORDS OF WISDOM:
Sometimes, politicians can redeem themselves simply by saying things that rekindle our faith in the democratic process.
Jefferson Smith: [His voice very hoarse] Just get up off the ground, that’s all I ask. Get up there with that lady that’s up on top of this Capitol dome, that lady that stands for liberty. Take a look at this country through her eyes if you really want to see something. And you won’t just see scenery; you’ll see the whole parade of what Man’s carved out for himself, after centuries of fighting. Fighting for something better than just jungle law, fighting so’s he can stand on his own two feet, free and decent, like he was created, no matter what his race, color, or creed. That’s what you’d see. There’s no place out there for graft, or greed, or lies, or compromise with human liberties. And, uh, if that’s what the grownups have done with this world that was given to them, then we’d better get those boys’ camps started fast and see what the kids can do. And it’s not too late, because this country is bigger than the Taylors, or you, or me, or anything else. Great principles don’t get lost once they come to light. They’re right here; you just have to see them again!
Rod Blagojevich: “I’ve got this thing and it’s fucking golden, and, uh, uh, I’m just not giving it up for fucking nothing. I’m not gonna do it. And, and I can always use it. I can parachute me there.”
Actually, I neglected to mention one notable achievement of Blagojevich’s governorship: an ethics reform bill, just now going into effect. It’s all beginning to sound a lot more like the plot of Hitchcock’s 1955 comedy, “To Catch A Thief”; who knows how to nab a criminal better than the arch-crook himself? Still, the humor in this gubernatorial comedy is blacker than pitch for the people of Illinois.