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Giles Slade

Giles Slade

Posted: December 11, 2008 01:04 PM

Happy Birthday, Governor Blagojevich!


It's been a helluva year, hasn't it?

Last Tuesday, Al Gore, Barack Obama and Joe Biden were upstaged by Governor Rod Blagojevich who appears destined for the same prison that currently houses his predecessor.

But not to worry, George Homer Ryan is applying for one of the lesser Bush's end-of-term Presidential pardons. So there may never be a prison yard showdown between these red and blue gubernatorial hard cases. As one arrives, the other may just be leaving.

Two other former Illinois governors have been incarcerated. The only other one still alive is Daniel Walker, a democrat and octogenarian given to writing fairly readable books, so maybe there's a bright book deal in Blagojevich's future. For Blagojevich, who turned 52 the day after his arrest, this possibility is the only thing on the horizon that resembles a birthday present since every elected official from Illinois except the dogcatcher has called for his resignation.

While the governor was making bail, President-elect Obama sat at a small table next to Joe Biden, one of the poorest members of Congress, but still a man who frequently opens off his mouth to express whatever the hell it is he feels like at the moment.

-- I, for one, love him for this quality. It is a kind of back-handed honesty to be sure. But in a world full of Ted Stevenses and Rod Blagojeviches, Biden's occasional gaffes look genuine and good. No one is paying him to keep his mouth shut. He's an honest man, just not one cut from the same cloth as Illinois-native Abe Lincoln or good old George from Valley Forge.

And let's not forget, Biden is also a man who openly talked about the vulnerability of poor politicians early in his career before pushing for campaign finance reform when it was unusual and extremely unpopular.

At the other end of the table sat Mr. Gore, a Nobel-laureate whose White House experience made him painfully aware of the embarrassing exigencies of political fund-raising. He will not now take an active role in President Obama's (or any other) administration because he is disillusioned and bitter about the whole political process in America. (I mean--hanging chads--who can blame him?)

So Obama's climate portfolio will go to Carol Browner, an old Clinton hand. Good luck to her.

Just at the moment the FBI busted Blagojevich, these three paragons of American political integrity were talking about 'cleaning up the environment' and how that was 'long overdue.'

And right then while they were doing this, I started having trouble figuring out which environment.

Did Obama mean (1) the carbon filth accumulating in the world's air, lakes, rivers and landfills that is currently warming the earth and destroying the security of the next generation; or (2) the moral filth that has gathered around us in the past eight years when the country was taught again and again that it was okay to cheat openly in order to achieve cynical, money grubbing ends.

Power, ambition, greed, and war. They all corrupt. They all bring you to believe that if you can get your hands on a benefit, you don't need to work for it. It's yours to keep.

But we need to live healthy lives and raise healthy children so both kinds of pollution need to end.

And now when I reread what I've just written, that

"Al Gore, Barack Obama and Joe Biden were upstaged by Governor Rod Blagojevich..."

I begin to think, well, maybe they weren't after all.

Time will tell.