01/10/2009 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

The Glass House Surrounding Blagojevich Called the "Culture of Corruption"

Guilt by association is wrong. And arrogance by disassociation and hypocrisy is just as wrong.

It's one thing for the residents of Illinois to sit back and feel discouraged by the tragic events of the past 24 hours, watching as U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald and FBI Director Robert Grant outlined a staggering array of corruption by Gov. Rod Blagojevich.

It's another thing to listen to the politicians of Illinois and Chicagoland whipped up into a vigilante mob frenzy, screaming for Blagojevich's neck because "he" engaged in corruption and unethical conduct.

Are you kidding me?

Illinois politics is a glass house of hypocrisy. The only reason some politicians are not in the scandal line-up today is not because they have not crossed the line on greed, selfishness and corruption themselves. It is only because they are good at escaping it. In fact, they are masters of escaping it.

The term "Culture of Corruption" does not apply to just one or two politicians. It is not a small circle that defines the conduct of only the few politicians and their cronies who have been caught like Tony Rezko, George Ryan, Ed Vrolyak and now Gov. Rod Blagojevich.

The term "culture of corruption" reflects the conduct of every elected official in Illinois, in the Illinois Senate, in the Illinois House, in the state's county systems, in the municipal councils of the cities big and small.

So every time a politician is charged, the politicians are the ones who grab the headlines with arrogant and self-serving statements like: Blagojevich should resign or step aside; we need to change the law so that a governor doesn't have sole control of filling a U.S. Senate seat vacancy; impeach the governor.

And that doesn't just include the politicians. The corporate-owned giants of the news media are also a part of the problem, and some of them are sinking. It's hard to imagine the glee on the faces of the Chicago Tribune's editorial board members while discussing Blagojevich's demise.

Yes, Blagojevich opposed much of what the editorial board of this giant of a newspaper published and tried to use his corrupt power to influence them, but it's how he went about it that is wrong, not what he was trying to do. The big media is part and parcel of the culture of corruption, selectively singling out individuals they dislike and boosting up those who do their financial bidding.

And all the politicians who wanted to be named successor to President-elect Barack Obama, and takeover his seat. Were they hesitant to barter and exchange? Maybe one or two said they would trade nothing for the seat with Blagojevich, but was it because of ethics or because they knew like everyone else knew -- except maybe the governor -- that Blagojevich was not a "safe" person to negotiate with?

Politicians raise money for their campaigns and then spend it on their personal needs. Not just because they want to, but because the law allows them to. They horse trade the public interest for their own selfish political agendas, maybe with more balance than Blagojevich, but they are trading off for what they want, not what is best for the public.

In this "Culture of Corruption" where powerful former governors use their power to protect their pals from prison sentences, and congressmen, senators, aldermen and mayors pass legislation and new programs that are packed with jobs and contracts for their pals, it's hard to sit there and look at the mob scene now taking place in Illinois and in Chicago and find satisfaction.

The only line separating Gov. Rod Blagojevich from the rest of the mob is the line of hypocrisy. Because in Illinois and it's "Culture of Corruption," very few of our government leaders and politicians and corporate news media giants can cast the first stones from their thick-lensed glass houses.

No. The people of Illinois should be saddened only by these facts:

It took forever for our justice system to nail longtime slippery politicians who gloried in sordid nicknames like "Fast Eddie."

Former Governor George Ryan, a convicted felon now in prison just past the first year of his six and one-half year sentence, stands a decent chance of being released early.

The odds that whomever succeeds Blagojevich will be just like him are 1000 to 1, and continue to increase; the odds that potential misconduct by his successor or by any of the mob screaming for Blagojevich's head are only 1 out of 1000, and diminishing.

As we hungrily feed through the millions of inches of newspaper copy on the Blagojevich scandal, or more likely read it on our computers, and chuckle at the glibness of the broadcast media detailing the sordid details on radio and T.V., the people of Illinois are left holding the bag, the burden and the consequences of Blagojevich's actions.

We can only ask ourselves one question: Are there any honest politicians left in Illinois? We can count them, metaphorically, on one hand.

(Ray Hanania is an award winning columnist and radio talk show host in Chicago. He can be reached at and by email at