I heard some speculation on WLS this morning that John Kass may have been on Blagojevich's list of reporters to fire at the Tribune. He has hammered Chicago corruption in his columns for a long time. When the City Budget Director put a shower in his office at City Hall, Kass showed up with a towel and a bar of soap, to use it. He wanted to "clean up" at City Hall. (Yes, there's video.)
As usual, he'll have a number of corrupt players to write about before the dust clears on this latest FBI operation. But it may be that this case does have one unusual feature. Blagojevich is a loose cannon, interested only in self preservation - even at the expense of other D-party players - and as such has made himself odious to other alleged public servants of Illinois. I think they've seen for awhile that he represents a huge political risk, and started "distancing" some time ago.
In his column today, John Kass speculates on what Governor "Dead Meat" will do next. The governor's reaction to Grant's 6 A.M. phone call informing him that he was about to be arrested was, "Is this a joke?" Kass writes:
Blagojevich's buddies—the ones he still has left—surely aren't amused. They must be wondering how long it will take for Blagojevich to crack under the federal weight and start singing about all his friends.Governor Blagojevich once complained about being "forced to live in a democracy". Personally, I'm happy that he may soon be forced to live somewhere else. He hasn't been indicted yet, but other players will be snared soon, and other songs will be sung. It's all happened before. If some of the political "insiders" made an honest effort to end corruption - that would be a brand-new twist to the same old story. Kass asks:
[. . .]
As I write this, he's being brought before a U.S. magistrate for a bond hearing, and they'll sneak him out of the federal building through the tunnel so the TV people won't get their perp-walk video, but that's not the end of his troubles. The only real decision Gov. Dead Meat has to make is when he'll start blubbering into a federal tape recorder and how much he'll say. The guys behind the guys aren't amused. To them, this Blagojevich isn't funny anymore.
Would Durbin write a letter of clemency for Blagojevich to President-elect Barack Obama? And will Obama finally address, in the most public way, the culture of political sleaze that threatens to drown all of us? I think Obama will address it, because it was his seat that allegedly was being bartered the Chicago way.I disagree with him there. Obama has never addressed it - and he won't now. No, I think guys who address the D-Machine's corruption are outside the game. The media sycophants have already given Obama a pass - he's exonerated because Blagojevich said "f*** him". The sleazy corrupt guy cussed at The One, so that makes him okay, thank you very much, and persecuted for his righteousness to boot. They will continue playing Gollum to their Precious Obama.
Hot Rod Blagojevich, in narcissistic self-absolution, will sing. But his audience will be small. The FBI camp, and a few reporters and columnists, like Kass, will listen. And the political outsiders that run for office here once in awhile (like political Don Quixotes, they tilt at The D-Machine) wouldn't miss it. They will be there to take notes.
Yes, It's-All-Thier-Fault Blagojevich will sing. We'll see the parade of indictments, and watch the usual feigned ignorance of political insiders. And when it all blows over, once again, the D-Machine will replace a piston here, and a ball bearing there, and do a little oil change. Family members and cronies will be reshuffled. And as always, the national media - and Obama - will continue to ignore it all, as Illinois half-listens to the same old song.
Full text of the DOJ Press Release
Criminal Complaint (PDF)
US DOJ Northern District Press Room
Complete transcript of the DOJ News Briefing
Full video of the FBI/DOJ news conference (C-SPAN, 49 minutes)