Blagojevich and the Death of Conspiracy Theories

The world's secret puppetmasters would have killed Blagojevich if they existed.

Who killed John F. Kennedy?

According to the official rendition, the Communist-leaning nutjob Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone in shooting the President in revenge for JFK allowing the CIA to attempt to kill Fidel Castro; then, nightclub owner and patriotic American Jack Ruby rose up in righteous indignation to deliver rough justice to his President's murderer.

According to five minutes' research on Google, JFK was killed by a conspiracy involving the Mafia, Fidel Castro, the FBI, the CIA, the Red Army, leaders of both political parties, and in all probability, extraterrestrial aliens.  One gets the impression that a hot lead would be to find out who rented out the Dallas football stadium for a private meeting of all the conspirators.

That's where most conspiracy theories fall down: Remember the old saying, "Three can keep a secret if two of them are dead?"  Any conspiracy involving pretty much everyone of any importance in the United States is going to stay secret just about as long as it takes for one member - or several - to arrange a tell-all appearance with Jay Leno.

Assuming, of course, that they make it to the studio alive, and here we come to the other great problem with conspiracy theories: they generally assume an omniscient, omnicompetent federal government which bears no resemblance to the government we see every day on the news and encounter from time to time at the DMV.  It seems a miracle most government employees arrive at the office with their pants on the right way round, to say nothing of executing a complex illegal operation in total secrecy maintained by deadly force, itself kept secret for decades.

Government employs vast hordes of people, however.  By the law of averages alone, surely some of them must be competent.  With an all-but-infinite pocketbook, competent individuals here and there in government ought to be able to buy a fair amount of success; a few billion bucks can go a long way.

Therefore, it's at least imaginable that there might possibly be, somewhere in the government, a secret entity dedicated to doing spooky things in the dark of night, making sure they stay there, and which has managed to accomplish its mission with perfection unequaled by any other government branch in all of history.

No longer.  Thanks to the spectacular shenanigans of Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich, any conspiracy theory which depends on government competence and extralegal malevolence must be permanently laid to rest.

To discover why, let's briefly review the astonishing career of the Governor.  As most Americans are by now aware, President-elect Barack Hussein Obama previously held a Senate seat from the state of Illinois.  Upon his election to the Presidency, the Constitution requires that he resign any other office, and so he did.

This leaves a vacancy in the Senate.  The Constitution allows the various states to determine how their unscheduled Senate vacancies are to be filled; Illinois state law specifies that the governor has sole power to appoint a replacement Senator to the seat.

Senate seats are an excellent illustration of the laws of supply and demand.  There is a strictly limited supply: only 100.  There is a great deal of demand; almost anyone with an interest in politics would love to be a Senator.  This disconnect quite naturally drives up the price of seats.

Usually, the market price of a Senate seat manifests itself in the astronomical cost of a Senatorial campaign.  If government wiretaps are to be believed, Gov. B. discerned an opportunity to gain personal advantage from the strength of this market, and in effect offered the nod to the highest bidder.

As things stand, the investigation has ensnared everyone from a sitting U.S. Representative to President-elect Obama's newly appointed Chief of Staff.  Given the long and storied history of corruption in Illinois, however, the wonder is that more participants weren't involved and that the price wasn't driven higher.

Of course, once U.S. Attorney Fitzpatrick revealed his incriminating wiretaps to the world, any appointment that "Don Blago" might make would be irredeemably besmirched.  What's more, it's bad enough for the Illinois Democratic party that their governor is about to go to jail; they wouldn't really want a sitting Senator to be tarred with the same brush.

The obvious solution was for the Illinois legislature to urgently change the law, removing the appointment power from the Governor and instead calling for a special election as is the rule in several other states.  The legislature duly convened to make this change; the Governor even agreed to sign the law should it pass.

Then the Illinois Dems suddenly grasped a teensy detail they'd overlooked: Contrary to popular belief, there is still, technically, an Illinois Republican party which could not be barred from participating in a special election, and, thanks to the eruption of Democratic corruption on every front page in the state, there was an unexpected possibility that a Republican might actually win.

Getting rid of corrupt pols is all very well, but not at the cost of letting voters put your opponent in power.  The special session came and went with no change in the law, leaving things exactly as they were before: that is, with the Governor, mud and all, holding full legal power of appointment.

We can readily imagine the behind-the-scenes phone calls, considering that Blagojevich was presented with a letter signed by every single Democratic senator saying that no appointment he made would be accepted.

Does Blagojevich resign, for which every Democrat from Mr. Obama on down has been screaming?  No.  Does he at least refrain from making a Senate appointment?  Not on your life!

Instead, surrounded by leaking gasoline, soaked Democratic pols all across the fruited plain, and incendiary fumes wafting everywhere, Hot Rod coolly pulled out his Zippo lighter and started puffing a Montecristo.

Given that the legislature had considered removing his power of appointment but chose not to do so, Don Blago duly appointed one Roland Burris, a little-known Illinois has-been so far from power that he has already had his burial monument erected and inscribed with his resume.  Fortunately there's a few inches left at the bottom to add "Appointed U.S. Senator."  It is highly relevant to note that, unlike any other currently seated Senator of either party, Mr. Burris is of African descent.

It took all of five seconds for the racial dog-whistles to start sounding.  Could Democratic Majority Leader Sen. Harry Reid (D, NV) dare bar the door to the Capitol to a black man?

Well, yes, he could and he did.

Let's now total up Blagojevich's accomplishments of the last couple months:

  • He stands convicted, in the court of public opinion if not yet in a court of law, of some of the most outrageous and undignified corruption of recent years - shaking down a children's hospital, attempting to force the firing of critical editorialists, and of course, all but posting the Senate seat on eBay.  The next person elected Governor of Illinois will most likely not be a Democrat.
  • Then, he revealed the Democratic-controlled Illinois State Legislature as being intensely undemocratic, since they refused to risk a Republican win in a special Senate election.  We expect the people of Illinois to exact revenge at the polls for this too.
  • Then, he allowed the Democratic national leadership to be cast as racists.  The attack ads almost write themselves.  Having scored 95% of the black vote last November, there's nowhere to go but down; thanks to Don Blago, the decline is off to a flying start.

All but the first of these catastrophes could have been easily avoided by a convenient car crash somewhere around Thanksgiving; the scandal would have died out once the governor was properly buried, with honors of course.  Even as late as Christmas, an unfortunate slip on the ice and a broken neck would have saved Mr. Obama and the rest of the Democratic leadership from acute embarrassment.

As things are, though, far from being the promised tour-de-force of accomplishment, Mr. Obama's first hundred days look to be turning into a farce.  What's worse, "Don't ask, don't tell" or refusing to seat a black Senate nominee?

If ever there was a reason for the legendary all-powerful government conspiracy to off someone, this is it.  If Mr. Obama, Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, Rahm Emanuel, or anyone in the Illinois Democratic establishment had a secret phone number to call, they'd have called it long ere now.

Instead, Rod Blagojevich looks to not only achieve the exposure of the corrupt Chicago machine, the imprisonment of a great many Democrats, and the permanent besmirching of an Obama administration that doesn't need the Governor's help in besmirching itself.

By the very fact that he's still breathing the sweet air instead of wearing cement overshoes, Gov. Blagojevich has proven, once and for all, that there is no such thing as a government conspiracy black-ops team.

Unless he croaks mysteriously in the next few weeks.  Now that would be scary.  What's more typical of government than "too little, too late, and clumsy"?

Petrarch is a contributing editor for Scragged.  Read other articles by Petrarch or other articles on Politics.
Reader Comments
January 7, 2009 10:22 AM
Maybe so, maybe no. This death wasn't at the federal level, but still....

Fund-Raiser to Blagojevich Dies in Chicago
Christopher Kelly, once Rod R. Blagojevich's top fund-raiser, had been charged with the former Illinois governor in a federal corruption case.
September 13, 2009 6:44 AM

It took a while, but they finally nailed him.

Jury Finds Blagojevich Guilty of Corruption
A jury in Chicago convicted the former governor of Illinois, Rod R. Blagojevich, of nearly all the corruption charges against him, including trying to sell or trade the Senate seat once held by President Obama.

June 28, 2011 6:37 PM
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