Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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January 9, 2009

IT JUST KEEPS GETTING STRANGER.... Did you happen to catch Rod Blagojevich's event this afternoon? Did you notice that the governor appears to be stark raving mad?

Josh Marshall noted, "Okay, fine, Blagojevich is clearly insane. I'm sitting here at my desk, listening to him chatter on in the background about the impeachment vote. And he's going on about how his policies let someone get a liver transplant, and should he really be impeached for that? It's like some bizarre performance art. Now he's quoting Tennyson."

Quite right. The governor talked at some length about the various policy initiatives he's launched in recent years, and all of it sounded utterly bizarre. There was no talk about selling a Senate vacancy, or any of the many crimes alleged in the criminal complaint that led to his arrest.

The problem, though, is that Blagojevich was actually responding to issues raised in the impeachment report (pdf), which pointed to, among other things, Blagojevich "expanding health care without legislative approval, spending state money on useless flu vaccines, refusing to release federal subpoenas and other government information to the public, widespread hiring abuses and pay-to-play activities in which big contributors often wound up with hefty state contracts."

So, responding to impeachment, Blagojevich decided to host a press conference to talk at length in defense of his health care initiatives, topped off by Tennyson.

It made for a hopelessly bizarre event.

Steve Benen 4:35 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (25)

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Comments

This is exactly why they shouldn't have expanded the impeachment into a whiny collection of all things they dislike about Blagojevich and focus on the corruption surrounding the Senate seat, or at least pay-to-play in general.

By expanding it's scope, they've allowed him to revert to campaign mode, and things like his health care policies are the populist programs and ideas that got him elected a second time to begin with.

Posted by: doubtful on January 9, 2009 at 4:37 PM | PERMALINK

This photo is on the front page of the NYT:

http://www.nytimes.com/imagepages/2009/01/09/us/09cnd_Blagojevich.2.html

Is it just me, or is the little kid in the background laying face down just plain bizarre?

Posted by: anonymiss on January 9, 2009 at 4:41 PM | PERMALINK

The term "stark raving Blago" will become synonymous with layman's references to clinical insanity. It'll happen before the apple trees blossom in Ohio---guaranteed....

Posted by: Steve W. on January 9, 2009 at 4:46 PM | PERMALINK

This is exactly why they shouldn't have expanded the impeachment into a whiny collection

Bingo! Even Josh Marshall doesn't seem to get that Blago is sort of on target. Of course, Blago's argument seems to be "I can spend money wherever and however I want, and here's an example of where that's a good thing." But they gave him a whole book to look for a comma, and that was dumb.

Posted by: Danp on January 9, 2009 at 4:48 PM | PERMALINK

Crazy like a fox, I'm afraid. (No, not Fox News, but really that's close enough! :-)

And we have it all on tape.

He exhibits all the symptoms of Active Mania with rapid and pressured speach, with tangential thought and flight of ideas and grandiosity and paranoid and psychotic thinking.

Journalists who quote him as bright, as creative (poetic references and so forth) with a brilliant memory for details don't realize they are also listing the symptoms of someone who is mentally ill.

This is not meant to take away from his creative brilliance, which is apparent and quite real.

I hope he ultimately finds some peace for himself.

Posted by: Crazy like a Fox (No, not Fox News, but close enough) on January 9, 2009 at 4:49 PM | PERMALINK

It looks like Rod hasn't heard the tapes.

Posted by: sceptic on January 9, 2009 at 4:56 PM | PERMALINK

I don't mean to yell, but DUH, YEAH! HE'S INSANE! WE'VE BEEN TELLING YOU PEOPLE HE'S INSANE! BATSHIT CRAZY DOESN'T BEGIN TO COVER IT!

doubtful: By expanding it's scope, they've allowed him to revert to campaign mode, and things like his health care policies are the populist programs and ideas that got him elected a second time to begin with.

I don't see that this helps him, D. The universal reaction to this is: HE'S... All right, I'll stop.

Posted by: shortstop on January 9, 2009 at 5:00 PM | PERMALINK

No crazier than Palin claiming to be exonerated by the panel investigating troopergate;>

Posted by: martin on January 9, 2009 at 5:01 PM | PERMALINK

Palin is truly as crazy, albeit a bit less dramatic and manic. Her last video about "what went wrong" illustrates many parallels with Blagojevich.
++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

But right now we have a governor who is actively MANIC and clearly not equipped to fulfill his office. He is insane and inept and incompetent and he needs to get the professional help and step down from his post.

Posted by: Of course Palin is crazy on January 9, 2009 at 5:08 PM | PERMALINK

Also, doubtful, remember that he used the "I love little children and fight for their healthcare!" bit in response to Fitz's revelations that Blago threatened to withhold $8m in pediatric reimbursements from Children's Memorial when he couldn't shake down one of its administrators. So the guy is going to say this crap regardless of what he's accused of. He is not rational.

Posted by: shortstop on January 9, 2009 at 5:08 PM | PERMALINK

Blago may be nuts, but isn't he just following the Clinton playbook in dealing with impeachment? Deny, delay, obfuscate and turn it into an extended campaign? The only thing Blago lacks in the paradigm is the big, bad boogyman that Clinton made Ken Starr and the panty-sniffing GOP out to be.

Mike

Posted by: MBunge on January 9, 2009 at 5:14 PM | PERMALINK

Dude, of course Blago is insane. No sane person would go walking around with that hairdo.

Quoting Tennyson? I guess he ran out of good Kipling quotes to use.

Posted by: gf120581 on January 9, 2009 at 5:15 PM | PERMALINK

With all due respect to Steve and Josh, I think you're all missing the point here. Like the Burris appointment, Blagoyevich is trying to divide the opposition here. Sure, he's got a 7% approval rating, but he knows that Michael Madigan, the House Speaker, is also very unpopular, especially with African-Americans and in downstate Illinois.

The entirety of the Blagoyevich press conference was about how the IL House has been out to get him for some time. Everyone in the state knows that the Governor and Madigan have been on the outs for a long time, and that the Governor's daughter will run for Governor in the primary (a mere 13 months from now--get your tickets now!). Don't be entirely surprised if there starts to be some sentiment for slowing down the process, especially since there hasn't been an indictment of Blagoyevich yet. I'm hearing a lot of "innocent until proven guilty" on the South Side of Chicago, and if the alternative is to give Madigan the head of the Governor on a pike, well, what's the rush? Not my feeling (I voted against Rod in the primaries both times he ran), but a not uncommon one, again in the absence of an indictment.

Posted by: Ray Lodato on January 9, 2009 at 5:16 PM | PERMALINK

Many people have asked how the voters could have reelected Blago. His performance today was exactly the kind of reasoning he used to get reelected. He did attempt to do some good stuff on health care but he had absolutely no means of paying for it other than sweeping funds from other parts of the state budget. In this sense, his governing was similar to Bush's. He just refused to raise any revenues to pay for his costly programs (Iraq in Bush's case). Many of us argued this case against him in 2006, but many libs supported him vigorously and stood with him because of his stands on providing more health care coverage for children and the poor.

One of the ironies of this is that he stood by a constituency that did not contribute much if anything to his campaign funds. In a sense, he robbed and extorted some powerful interests to gain and keep power to help a much less moneyed interests, but he ended up alienating almost everyone except for the most needy in the process.

I mention this only to offer some explanation of events here but I in no way support him. He has been a disaster and one goofy son of a bitch.

Posted by: lou on January 9, 2009 at 5:20 PM | PERMALINK

In all seriousness, did you really expect him to get up in front of the TV cameras and say, "I didn't bribe and scam people for my personal benefit"? Healthcare reform is the platform he ran upon to become governor and is his (perhaps) only forte in his administration at this point. Why should he talk about what he's done wrong when he can bait-and-switch to talk about the positive effects he's had upon Illinois citizens? Obviously he is and has been more evil than good, but I would have thought that any informed observer of this press conference would have seen this coming.

Posted by: Rebw on January 9, 2009 at 5:27 PM | PERMALINK

"Everyone in the state knows that the Governor and Madigan have been on the outs for a long time, and that the Governor's daughter will run for Governor in the primary"

I think you mean Madigan's daughter, don't you?

"By expanding it's scope, they've allowed him to revert to campaign mode, and things like his health care policies are the populist programs and ideas that got him elected a second time to begin with."

I think the main thing that got him reelected was the woeful quality of any opposition he had in either the primary or general election; I don't know of many people who actually liked him by then. I couldn't bring myself to vote for him in the general even though I'm a yellow-dog Democrat; I voted for the Green Party candidate, even though he (I think it was a he) had zero chance of winning.

Posted by: DavidNOE on January 9, 2009 at 5:29 PM | PERMALINK

I think the main thing that got him reelected was the woeful quality of any opposition he had in either the primary or general election; I don't know of many people who actually liked him by then.

Bingo. That's why the Green, whose name I can't recall either at this moment despite having voted for him, got double digits, mostly from people who would have sucked it up and voted Blago over Topinka in a tight race, but in this unclose election wanted to register what small meaningless protest we could.

Posted by: shortstop on January 9, 2009 at 5:51 PM | PERMALINK

"Ahh, but the strawberries that's... that's where I had them. They laughed at me and made jokes but I proved beyond the shadow of a doubt and with... geometric logic... that a duplicate key to the wardroom icebox DID exist, and I'd have produced that key if they hadn't of pulled the Caine out of action. I, I, I know now they were only trying to protect some fellow officers...'

Posted by: mellowjohn on January 9, 2009 at 6:23 PM | PERMALINK

"I will be properly exonerated."

Is it possible to be improperly exonerated?

Posted by: Randy Paul on January 9, 2009 at 6:28 PM | PERMALINK

Chuckle: he messed the Tennyson quote up.

I'm pretty sure the quote, which comes from Ulysses, goes "we are not now that strength which in old days moved heaven and earth."

Blago said it, "we are not now that strength which in old days moved earth and heaven."

I like the way Tennyson said it better.

Posted by: JCB on January 9, 2009 at 7:07 PM | PERMALINK

Maybe Palin and Blago should hook up.

Posted by: Bob M on January 9, 2009 at 7:36 PM | PERMALINK

I suppose I'm missing something obvious, but I don't dislike the guy. He reminds me of Clinton when Clinton was lying about getting a blowjob from Monica. I mean it's one thing to behave outrageously and expect Ken Starr or Patrick Fitzgerald to think it's funny; it doesn't mean they're insane. Or guilty.

Posted by: NealB on January 9, 2009 at 8:42 PM | PERMALINK

I suppose I'm missing something obvious, but I don't dislike the guy.

You're not seeing what we in Illinois are all too familiar with -- an overwhelming sense of arrogance totally unsupported by any level of effective political competence.

Posted by: DJ on January 9, 2009 at 9:51 PM | PERMALINK

Trying to figure him out--what I recognized--then remembered. It was redolent of my childhood memories of the local mobsters talking to the media following some or another indictment.

Posted by: Hazy on January 10, 2009 at 2:44 AM | PERMALINK

Blagjewich is impeached, then why can't Bush be impeached, for war crimes committed, that have killed thousands?

Posted by: maggie on January 10, 2009 at 7:22 AM | PERMALINK




 

 

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