Somebody should pay.
Deep down, we've always known that the world of Illinois politics, or more precisely Chicago politics, is a messy place. But we've been able to sufficiently keep a lid on it until former Gov. Rod Blagojevich's arrest, and things just got worse with the controversy surrounding Sen. Roland Burris. Now the whole world knows our dirty laundry.
So who's responsible?
We need to find those people and make them pay, severely.
Maybe we should handle it like the mob. After all, when the mob teaches lessons they tend to stick.
Just to keep it light, we could take a page from Bugsy Calhoun, the fictional mobster from Harlem Nights, an expletive-filled, 1989 comedy featuring Eddie Murphy, Richard Pryor, Redd Foxx, Della Reese and Michael Lerner. Lerner plays Calhoun, a tough-nosed mobster looking to get rid of Pryor and Murphy because their nightclub routinely took customers and money away from Calhoun's after-hours joints.
In one scene, Calhoun talks with Tony, one of his chief henchmen, about the dismal receipts at one of his nightclubs. Calhoun suspects that the club's manager, a character named Tommy Smalls, is pocketing thousands of dollars from the profits, but Tony disagrees: "Smalls wouldn't do that. I hand-picked him myself," he says. But Calhoun is convinced the Smalls is stealing money from him. "You made a mistake with him. A big mistake," Calhoun replies. "You hand-picked him? I guess that makes you kind of responsible."
After some conversation about how to deal with Pryor and Murphy, Calhoun calls Tony over to his piano with the lid propped up. He calmly tells Tony to put his hand on the edge. With sweat brimming on his forehead, Tony reluctantly places his hand on the edge of the piano. Calhoun gets in his face: "Nobody steals from me. The next time you bring somebody crooked in, I'm going to f---ing kill you!" He then swipes the prop from under the lid and it crashes down on Tony's hand.
If we were playing the part of Calhoun and dishing out punishment to those who brought Blagojevich to power in our state, here's a short list of the folks we'd ask to their hands on the edge of the piano:
Gov. Pat Quinn He may have made an impression with his budget address, and he continues to remind us that he's not Blagojevich. But as Lt. Gov. Quinn, he was Blagojevich's "running mate." Those guys held hands together at many a podium on the campaign trail.
Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan The speaker's disdain for Blagojevich was well known, but he co-chaired the former governor's campaign in 2006--even after the corruption probes had started. If anybody could've deep-sixed Blagojevich, it was Madigan.
33rd Ward Alderman Dick Mell He's Blagojevich's father-in-law and political godfather; it all got started with Mell. But I guess we should've known something was wrong when the rift between Blagojevich and Mell became public. I'm sure there are plenty of fathers who can't stand their sons-in-law. But your son-in-law has to be a real piece of work if he's a congressman-turned-governor and you still don't like him.
I certainly don't mean to wish any bodily harm upon anyone, and I don't mean to suggest that key Blagojevich supporters should be held accountable for the former governor's actions. But somebody had to know. I understand party unity and all, but somebody could've dropped us a hint or issued some kind of public apology when it all came crashing down.
And Illinois' tarnished reputation is not solely the fault of the Democrats. Keep in mind, our most recent Republican governor is still in prison--which we were routinely reminded of during the Blagojevich fiasco. And somebody in the Republican Party needs a straight-up ass-whuppin' for that whole Alan-Keyes-for-U.S. Senate-thing in 2004. Who in their right mind could've thought that his candidacy would be taken seriously?
All I'm sayin' is that we have a long track record of political disasters in this state, and the folks on the inside need to be taught that the people of Illinois have had enough.
We don't need more promises of reform. Maybe a few broken hands would do the trick.
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