Wear it in good health, ROD BLAGOJEVICH!
I have celebrated The Ides of March as a political holiday for more than a decade now. It is a day to commemorate our entertainment and edification by political hacks from Pericles to George W. Bush, by marking the day 2,053 years ago when the Roman Senate brilliantly settled a political standoff by imposing term limits on Julius Caesar.
But who will win the Grand Prize this year? Who will take home the "Senior Shiv in the Solar Plexus" Where Brutus slipped it, and the respected "Knife in the Back Plaque", where Cassius paid off his old enemy? We had many contenders, but in the end there could be only one winner.The proper tone was firmly set by this year’s grand prize winner when he opened his front door on the morning of December 9, 2008 and found himself facing a team of F.B.I agents. The first words out of his mouth were “Is this a joke!” And it is that question, more than the bribery, the shakedowns or the spousal supported profanity which earned this twice elected political hack - who was he running against, Kevin Federline?
And now the unanimously un-elected ex-Governor of Illinois, the soon to be indicted unofficial poet laureate of the criminal justice system, the winner of the 2009 Ides of March Political Award, the Sanjaya of Springfield, Rod Blagonevich.This prize has not been awarded to Mr. Blogoiejevich for trying to sell a senate seat, or for threatening to pull funding from a children’s hospital, for the federal charges of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and “play-for-pay” charges, nor even for committing his alleged crimes over his official phone lines even after the press told him the feds had them bugged , an act Jon Stewart has described as “a new low in dumb.” The day before he was arrested, Blagojevich told reporters, “…anybody who wants to tape my conversations, go right ahead, feel free to do it…” Did he think they wouldn’t? Yes, to be this crooked and this stupid deserves a prize – just not an Ides of March prize.All these offenses might violate criminal, civil and moral codes in any number of societies worldwide. But practical politics is not judged against a legal or moral scorecard, but by only one measurement. Can you get re-elected? And the answer here is unequivocal. The Ides of March 2009 prize has been awarded to a man who has never lost an election, who won his last (2006) election as Governor by 11 percentage points, but a politician who, by October of 2008 (two months before he was arrested) could find barely 10% of registered voters who wanted him re-elected. The same poll showed that 0% of voters rated his job performance as excellent, and only 4% rated him “good” while 64% rated his job performance as “poor”. As Jay Leno pointed out, Blagojevich’s approval rating was so low, he even disapproved of himself. Rod Blagoeijevich has managed to give crooked politics a bad name in Illinois. That ranks as an historic achievement.The farce of his senate appointment collapsing post swearing in, in a haze of conflicting testimony by now Senator Burris, was followed by the announcement of Blogoiejevich’s six figure book deal. This inspired Chicago Sun-Times columnist Richard Roper to imagine what the finished book might offer up as a protagonist. “Blago…just like Batman… a misunderstood superhero who roams the streets of Chicago in a black outfit…painted as an outlaw. Maybe they can just call (his) book “He’s Batty.”While the ex- Governor has compared himself to Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King, Mahatma Gandhi, Gary Cooper and Jimmy Stewart, David Letterman said that Blagojevich resembles “…a producer of an adult entertainment awards show….”. And then there is the helmet hair. Jay Leno suggested that not only should Blagojevich go to jail but his hairdresser should be given the death penalty. Jon Stewart has suggested that Rod himself be indicted for beaver pelt smuggling. Letterman observed that Blogo spoke for 47 minutes at his own impeachment trial in the Illinois senate. Afterward, Letterman said, “They had to rush him to the emergency room at Supercuts.” Worse; “…next month his hair goes digital.” And Jimmy Kimmel suggested, “They nabbed him with a butterfly net and some Aqua Net.”So there is no contest for this year’s award. The other competitors are simply not in the same game, not working down to the same shockingly low standard of behavior and illlogic as Rod Blagojevich, ex-governor of Illinois and charter member of the “Future Felons of 21st Century America”,...winner of the 2009 Ides of March Award!
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