Those of you who don't live in Illinois may not know about our history of felonious governors. Along with a couple who were jailed back in the sixties and seventies [Otto Kerner and Dan Walker], we've got these last two.
Most recently, our former head of state, George Ryan, a corner pharmacist and downstate Republican, has been rotting in prison for corruption. He was out of office when they finally nabbed him. Ryan is best remembered for being our Secretary of State when six children in one family were burned alive in an accident caused by a truck driver who had purchased his driver's license illegally. In the end they got Ryan's chief of staff to finally rat him out. In exchange for a reduced sentence.
Today our current governor, Rod Blagojevich [BLAH-GOYA-VITCH], a former congressman from Chicago and a Democrat, was arrested at his home for conspiracy to commit corruption and for being the annoying little jerk wad everybody always thought he was. Ironically, the congressional seat he took over was vacated by another politician ousted for corruption, Dan Rostenkowski.
Even his family doesn't like the governor. Blagojevich has been having a public feud with his father-in-law, Richard Mell, a Chicago alderman, since taking office. In fact,the Rodmeister's latest approval rating -- 13% -- makes President Bush seem like a rock star by comparison.
Here's the best part -- among his many recorded attempts to extort money from people, including a children's hospital, Blagojevich was caught on tape trying to sell Barack Obama's recently vacated senate seat to the highest bidder. Whoever got the job would have to guarantee all kinds of perks in exchange for the governor's appointment. He planned to secure a cushy retirement gig like an ambassadorship or head of a union. Oh, and something for his wife. Not to mention cash.
Now that he's finally been arrested -- rumors have been circling the drain for months -- everyone wants to know, does that mean he still gets to appoint Obama's replacement? Nothing like getting to select a United States senator when you're out on bond. On the other hand, if the governor isn't around to make the appointment, then who does the deed?
The right thing to do would be for him to resign. But, being the combative little martinet that he is, I think that's not going to happen. Maybe, for once, the legislature will get together to figure out how to unload the guy. It might be the first thing they've been able to agree on since he took office. And that's way from being a done deal.
It almost makes a person grateful for Mayor Daley.