Friday, July 02, 2010

Blagojevich Called Obama A Demigod

The corruption trial of former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich has been one of the most entertaining trials I've ever followed. Hours of taped conversations of an unsuspecting corrupt pol on the take gives the spectator a ring side seat to watch what really goes on behind those government doors in some quarters. Taped conversations replayed in court yesterday give us a glimpse of just how much Blagojevich really despised Obama despite the public face they both put on of being big supporters of each other's political careers. On that historic night when Obama won the presidency, he took time out to call one of his best pals, the head of the SEIU union, to urge him to meet with Blagojevich and urge him to appoint his favorite girl to his soon-to-be-vacant senate senate, Valerie Jarrett. Naturally, Blagojevich like all Chicago politicians wanted something in return for the favor. When it became apparent he wasn't going to get appointed as Health & Human Services Secretary or ambassador to his country of choice or some other arranged high-paying job, Blagojevich suggested someone set up a foundation that he would head and that would pay a lot of money. A frustrated Blagojevich at one point let it all hang out about how he really felt about Obama, calling him a "demigod." This is how the conversations played out:

I mean you got this historic, f------ demi-god. He's a demi-god now. At least for now," Blagojevich tells a top aide in a secretly recorded phone conversation.

"Yeah and they fall the hardest," responds Doug Scofield.

"And, you know, the Clintons couldn't stop him," Blagojevich continues. "But there's nothin' I could have done, the timing, nothin' There's nothin', right?"

So the mission for Wyma is essentially to put it in Rahm's head that we need him to help to fund it," Blagojevich says on the recording.

Scofield testified that he felt the request was "absurd." But he still made the call.

"I said, 'John, every now and then we get asked to do something that is ridiculous even by our standards,' " Scofield testified.

In another call played Wednesday, Blagojevich can be heard getting frustrated that the Obama administration wasn't playing ball.

"I mean I'll do Valerie Jarrett . . . but if they feel like they can do this and not f-----' give me anything under, just some vague assurances or something'. Then I'll f-----' go Jesse Jr." Blagojevich is heard saying. "I mean the arrogance of these f-----'' people."

Earlier in the conversation, Blagojevich told Scofield he was not ruling out appointing Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr.

In one of the conversations played in court, Blagojevich was told by advisers not to expect anything in return for a Jarrett appointment.

"They all leave town and I'm stuck with gridlock . . . impeachment . . . and a f------ president who's all talk and no give?" Blagojevich is heard saying.

At one point, Blagojevich considered appointing billionaire J.B. Pritzker to the Senate seat, if he would contribute the $10 million to $20 million for the foundation, according to a recording.

"If I can get J.B. to do somethin' like that, is it worth, ah, givin' him the Senate seat?" Blagojevich wonders. "Incidentally, he, he asked me for it. Don't repeat that."

Under cross-examination, Scofield was questioned about testimony that he left Blagojevich because the governor wasn't true to his pledge of being for reform.

Defense lawyer Aaron Goldstein tried bringing up some of Blagojevich's reforms in office, but the judge cut him off.

"Would you spare us the campaign speech until afterwards?" Judge James Zagel told Goldstein.

Under questioning, Scofield said though he agrees on recordings with Blagojevich's musings -- and even encourages him in various calls -- he's just placating the then-governor.

"Is it fair to say you took action to help out Rod Blagojevich?" Goldstein said.

"I think that's fair to say," Scofield said.
Blagojevich had good reason to be looking for a high-paying position. An IRS agent also testified in court that the former governor and his wife spent as much as $400,000 on clothing items during his tenure as governor, more than they spent on a home mortgage, child care expenses or private schooling for their children. The IRS agent also testified about a sigificant amount of money, $40,000, flowing into Patti Blagojevich's real estate business, Lost River Realty, from convicted political fixer Tony Rezko's business as sham brokerage fees to help pay for the cost of renovating their home. It makes you wonder how much money a forensic analysis of the Obamas finances in the years leading up to his election would show flowing from Rezko. After all, Rezko's help with the purchase of the lot next door and land swap helped make it possible for the Obamas to purchase their south side mansion. I guess the feds have decided we won't take a closer look at all of that. Maybe Blagojevich is right. Obama is a demigod.


dcrutch said...

Dream on Gary. The only "forensic" the mainstream press and media want to do on President Obama is what does it take to get him reelected. The most I ever heard about the guy was from O'Reilly and a Frontline documentary shared with McCain. Whether national or local media, all Chicago connections suddenly went deaf, dumb, mute, and seemingly incapable of doing investigative reporting if it required talking to someone across the Illinois state line.

A little different than the granularity of coverage we got on Sarah Palin (living in ALASKA- no less).

I despise George W. Bush for acting like a dogmatic dipstick, with bumbling leadership in crisis, inept appointments, and road-to-hell economics. I feel even worse about, basically, more of the same with President Obama, except he seems devoid of any belief in capitalism or the Constitution to boot.

But, the greatest scoundrels have been our free press- willing to abdicate their implicit duty to report both sides while still clinging to their explicit Contstitutional protection. If there's a payback for what we've done and haven't as a country, I hope our mainstream journalists are in the most searing part of it.

Blagojevich is a minnow. The big Asian carp cruises onward....

Marycatherine Barton said...

Will Blago be found guilty of corruption, or just plain old hard ball politics, Illinois style?

Gary R. Welsh said...

I have little doubt that Blago is guilty, but I have been taken aback by Judge Zagel's outspoken criticism of Blago's lawyers during their cross-examination of witnesses and snarky comments about matters being testified upon. The prosecution's attorneys don't even have to raise objections; Judge Zagel does it before they can even say anything. He leaves no doubt in the jurors' minds that he thinks the guy is guilty.