Serial Bus

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Being Rod Blagojevich

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I am trying to imagine what being Rod Blagojevich is like. Unfortunately, I don’t live on some floor 7.5 from where I could enter his consciousness, so I am going to speculate. Before the morning he got arrested, I would have guessed he feels ‘fortunate’ (as I am sure he’d have said in several speeches) but afterward, I would have hurried to exit his mind, even if that meant being thrown into a ditch by NJ Turnpike.

On 09Dec08, as the news of the arrest of Rod Blagojevich, Governor of Illinois, started streaming in, I was appalled. For all the political drama that we witnessed over the presidential election, I had come to view the American political theater as extremely competitive but honest too. Politicians in the US are constantly under the glare of media, they are well-educated and most importantly, the justice system seemed to be robust enough to keep any sly intentions in check. The Spitzer scandal did not shake my trust as he did not really commit a crime – he was just being a stupid man who broke some anachronous laws on prostitution. Blagojevich, on the other hand, trumped the lowest of bars and hit dirt big time.

The man was under federal investigation for several other reasons and he knew about it. Yet, he offered the following gems to the federal agents that were tapping his phone conversations, as he attempted to ‘sell’ the Senate seat vacated by ascension of Barack Obama to presidency. As a Governor, he knows he has absolute power to name the replacement, so he says, “I’ve got this thing and it’s fucking golden, and I’m just not giving it up for fuckin’ nothing. I’m not gonna do it. And I can always use it. I can parachute me there.”

Seems like Obama’s team made some recommendations to him which he is very sore about and says, “They’re not willing to give me anything except appreciation. Fuck them.” Many of us die for appreciation from a President, Mr Governor! Apparently, he was very worried about his financial situation and at a minimum, wanted a plum job for his wife. When prospects of personal gain did not look bright, he tells his aides that he did not want to give this “motherfucker [the President-elect] his senator. Fuck him. For nothing? Fuck him.”

My disappointment with the Governor is rooted in my wonderment. I wonder what the limit of one’s ambition is; I wonder when does a person stop chasing signposts, pause and feel happy. He had so many reasons to be happy and content that anyone would have paid to get the experience of being Rod Blagojevich.

For one, I consider everyone born or raised in a developed country lucky, let alone in the US. Imagine being born in cholera-struck Zimbabwe, violence-ridden Darfur, totalitarian Cuba, war-torn Afghanistan or a poor slum of Bombay. Life would have been ‘nasty, brutish and short’.

Next, think about the opportunity you received and how you missed chaos by a whisker. Rod’s father, Radisav Blagojevich was an immigrant steel plant laborer from Serbia. His mother, Mila Govedarica, is a Bosnian Serb from Bosnia and Herzegovina. His parents moved to Chicago in 1947. Had they stayed back, Rod would have perhaps had a very different life, if any.

Then, imagine your struggle and your blue-collar roots. Blagojevich spent much of his childhood working odd jobs to help the family pay its bills. He was a shoeshiner and pizza delivery boy before working at a meat packing plant. In order to afford university, Blagojevich worked as a dishwasher. That you rose to the highest office in a state should keep you justly proud & pumped-up for a lifetime.

Some folks may still have a blind craving for more but with a family around you, things mellow and you become wiser. Rod married a well-heeled Chicago woman and they have 2 young daughters. He was about to turn 52 and yet, could not rein in ambition to make it bigger by hook or crook.

None of this is moot, of course since Blagojevich never saw life like that. If he could be so ruthless to himself, I guess all other people who are not so privileged must be really struggling to stay innocent. I must confess though that until 09Dec, even Rod lived in an illusion of grandeur and peace. When asked about the federal investigation the day before his arrest, Blagojevich said there was “nothing but sunshine hanging over me” and that “whatever I say is always lawful and the things I’m interested in are always lawful.”

Thank you for recording it for posterity though, Guv!


Written by serialbus

December 20, 2008 at 5:06 pm

One Response

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  1. it’s interesting how Blagojevich seems so unaffected by all the chaos swirling around him; it’s as if he feels right at home…

    coffee fiend

    January 7, 2009 at 3:39 am

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