Former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich is at it again.
Five days after the Illinois Senate voted unanimously to remove him from office, Blagojevich today started his second national TV media blitz, beginning this morning on NBC’s “Today” show.
“It was an unlawful and improper impeachment,” Blagojevich told interviewer Meredith Vieira. “So I don’t view myself at all as being shamed or disgraced. … But they did a disservice to the people of Illinois and the people across America.”
The way I see it, the disservice done to the people of Illinois is that legislators didn’t impeach this corrupt clown earlier. It also was a disservice for so many Democrats to publicly support and defend Blagojevich until he became too much of a political liability after his Dec. 9 arrest on political corruption charges. Blagojevich made a good point last week when he questioned why he wasn’t impeached earlier for political crimes he committed during his first term as governor but weren’t brought against him until last month, two years into his second term.
Making a good point about the timing of his impeachment does not excuse Blagojevich’s corruption. But I want to share a quote from his successor, Gov. Pat Quinn, made during the 2006 campaign: “In all my interactions with him, I’ve found him to be an honest person.” Blagojevich was already under investigation at that point and had already committed some of the political crimes cited against him in his impeachment trial, yet Quinn found him to be “honest.” I am skeptical that Quinn knew nothing of his two-time running mate’s questionable behavior, and therefore I question the new governor’s squeaky-clean image. He may not have known the worst of Blagojevich’s alleged transgressions until they were revealed by U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald, but that doesn’t excuse him for ignoring Blagojevich’s abuse of power in order to get re-elected as lieutenant governor.
Quinn wasn’t the only top Democrat to conveniently ignore Blagojevich’s transgressions, some of which were well known before the 2006 gubernatorial election. House Speaker Michael Madigan and Senate President John Cullerton endorsed Blagojevich for re-election. In fact, Madigan was engaged in a well-documented, long-running feud with Blagojevich, yet co-chaired the governor’s re-election committee. Maybe Blagojevich can return the favor later by co-chairing the presumed gubernatorial campaign of Madigan’s daughter, Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan. Wouldn’t that be a hoot?
The point I’m trying to make is this: If you watch Blagojevich continue repeating his same talking points to Larry King, Greta Van Susteren and David Letterman tonight, keep in mind that the Blagojevich conversation would be much more complete if we heard politicians like Quinn, Cullerton and Michael Madigan tell us why they ignored the warning signs of corruption even after they became apparent.
And when they are done giving their excuses – if they ever have the guts to do so – they should apologize to Illinois residents for intentionally misleading them about Blagojevich until it suited their purposes to do otherwise.