The media has been focusing on the Rod Blagojevich scandal with all the zeal of a torch-wielding mob, but they fail to acknowledge that the dirty pay to play model demonstrated in Chicago is a microcosm of the political world. Everyone pays for everything, and only the wealthy can buy access to power.
New York can offer two other examples of paying to play with Senator Chuck Schumer, and the legacy candidate gunning to fill Hillary Clinton's vacated seat, Caroline Kennedy.
Blagojevich's swear-laced scheming was crude, super illegal, and what ultimately led to his public demise, unsubtle. The governor never learned how to delicately press the boundaries of acceptability, and instead charged through them with all the nuanced skill of a rabid bull.
The fallen governor should have looked to Chuck Schumer, who demonstrates how to us pay to play the acceptable way. Schumer is the official beneficiary, advocate and overseer for Wall Street. A Democrat, he fully embraced the free market principles that have led to the current financial turmoil. Since Chuck's largest contributors are from Wall Street, he votes to please his corporate masters, and in doing so, he continues to buy access to power. It doesn't matter if deregulation is bad for his state, and the country, as long as those fat Wall Street checks continue to roll in.
Blago should take note: at no point did Chuck get on the phone and demand, "his fucking money." Instead, he quietly and assertively raised Wall Street contributions by 50 percent. Then he used that money to hold onto his power, and vote in the interest of Wall Street, and not New Yorkers. The contributions keep rolling in, and Chuck does it all over again. That's the acceptable way of paying to play.
Caroline Kennedy is also subtly pressing her bony elbow into the back of David Paterson, demanding what is rightfully hers. I write "rightfully" because...ya' know...she's a Kennedy, and we're supposed to live under their rule until Jesus comes back, I think. That's written in the Constitution, or something.
But seriously, no one can offer a compelling argument for why Caroline is particularly well-suited for the job other than her ability to raise a ton of money for the Democratic party. That Kennedy money is another tricky way of paying to play. If Caroline can cough up around $70 million, she gets to play, but if she was a poor gal named Smith or Gonzalez with an impressive resume, winning smile, and a noble spirit, she'd get her little ass booted to the curb.
To all the future, corrupt politicians out there, here are some parting words of advice: deceive wisely. Politics is a dirty, foul game for the rich and unscrupulous, so lie, but lie wisely. Steal, but steal subtly. Pay to play, but for God's sake, do it in the most quiet, underhanded way possible to spare us all the embarrassment of having to acknowledge what a morally bankrupt system we vote to uphold.