Wednesday, December 10, 2008

This is just plain fun

Now that Governor Rod Blagojevich has been caught. Of course, he was abusing his office and betraying the people of Illinois, but I see no larger issue other than the soon to be former Governor of the flatlanders is what is perhaps the worst amalgamation of the Friends of Dorothy.* He's got no brain and no heart, but he certainly has the nerve. Bad combination. He is, perhaps, the ur-FIB.

But there is no larger issue here. In the absence of some evidence that isn't there now and never may be, it tells us nothing about Obama. He comes from Chicago politics and Chicago politics is a cesspool of corruption. We knew that. But that doesn't translate into personal guilt.

It doesn't tell us anything about the need for "clean government" reforms. The trap into which Blagojevich fell was inherent in the human government condition. Government dispenses things of great value (e.g., money) and the Governor has a fair amount of power in the the transactions by which these things are disbursed. There will always be a temptation to use that power for personal gain, if not campaign contributions, then a job, money or a friendly editorial board.

Thinking that we can remove these temptations is tantamount to a puppy who believes that great things will follow if he can only catch that tail.

* I am aware of one commonly accepted secondary meaning of this phrase. I don't use it in that way. I'm trying to say that removing a great flaw can lead to even worse results if it is unbalanced by other virtues. Or something like that.


Anonymous said...

While it may not tell us anything about the need for "clean government reforms", it ought to remind us that it is better to put less trust and power in government.

We can limit the scope and effect of any corruption that may occur if government simply wields less power to begin with.

Unknown said...

I agree that the connection to Obama is tenuous at best, but he needs to be careful what he is denying and what he is admitting. Saying he hasn't had any contact with the governor and had absolutely no knowledge about what might be going on is a little hard to believe. I just live in IL and the particular charges didn't really surprise me. See Jim Lindgren's post at the Volokh Conspiracy.

As for your claim no "clean government" reform would do much to curb this problem I completely agree. Government officials (especially a gov) will always be in a position to abuse their power.

But I don't think that makes this situation void of any larger issue. As USA Fitzgerald said in the press conference yesterday, any elected officials or political players who are approached with similar schemes should come forward and report the wrongdoing. Then, the voters of Illinois need to take action and remove the ethically suspect people from office.

We don't need sweeping reforms, we just need to good people in government to stand up and say this is unacceptable and for the voters to voice their opinion at the ballot box. Engaging in pay to play politics has to become politically damning and the only way for that to happen is for the people who know about it to stand up and report it.

- Andrew Mays

Anonymous said...

Merry Fitzmas!

Anonymous said...

I'm smart, are you? Find out why I know I'm so much smarter than you are:

Anonymous said...

The president-elect's reaction to his Senate seat being sold/etc yesterday was underwhelming. Does he have a pulse? Will his cautious nature end up paralyzing him? Is the Rezko house deal the sole instance of him going native in Chicago? It sure would have been nice to have a better sense of him before the election.

Anonymous said...

Here's a great way to put forth reform: don't have the damn government in control so many parts of society that any private sector individual or organization has huge incentives, and a willingness, to pony up so much money to buy political offices.

It's the same message with reform for political campaigns. Barack's supporters didn't raise $600,000,000 for his campaign because they thought he was a nice guy. It was because they knew he would use the machinations of government to improve their individual/group financial situation.

There's no additional good government regulation that can kill that incentive.

Publius said...

Perhaps this is a good time to reflect on the type of person that we get at the highest levels of government because of its structure. The need for “charisma” and the tremendous amount of money for advertising that is required to be a public official, we seem to end up with a very aggressive nihilistic group of people at the top of our government.

It is almost as if we attract mostly alpha (+) males into government.

I remember great deal of criticism of VP Al Gore running against Gov. Bush. The criticism that Al Gore was not an alpha male seemed, in some people’s eyes, to make him unqualified to be President.

In my opinion, the last Genius we had run for President was Adalei Stevenson. Would mumbly, wooden-toothed George Washington look good on a televised debate? John Adams would not look good on television unless CGI were involved.

Perhaps just as importantly, would a great, confident Leader or maybe intelligent, benevolent Sage; subject themselves and their family to the kind of public autopsy that candidates suffer through in today's 24x7x365 news channel world.

Change the System, Change the Outcome.

Anonymous said...

Anyone reasonably mature person sees the obvious problem that this governor epitomizes. His attitude is becoming more common then the exception.