I was totally delighted by all the recent media coverage of the events leading up to and following the impeachment of Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich. It was political theater at its best and this rascal, who probably would still get my vote, was a perfect example of the Chicago and Cook County political machine at its best or worst, depending on how you look at these things. Allow me to explain why I found this so entertaining.
Until we moved west, I had spent 15 years in "Chicagoland" and my wife is a native of Illinois. Most of my work time and a lot of my leisure time was spent in the city of Chicago, which I still consider to be the best big city in the U.S. of A. Chicago is a city that really works and one of the big reasons that it does is due to the Democratic political machine which can make sure that your garbage gets picked up, the potholes on your street are filled, etc., and all you have to do is be sure to vote for them. How do they know they will get your vote? It couldn't be simpler. Let's say you have the aforementioned pothole in the street in from of your house - do you call the street department? Don't be silly, you call your precinct captain, who reports to your alderman, who reports to the mayor. After the precinct captain establishes your loyalty to the alderman the pothole is repaired post haste. But because folks can sometimes forget the good deeds done for them, on election day the precinct captain is at your door to see if you need a ride to the polling place or even help with casting your vote, his assistance at election time is unlimited.
I remember many years ago, the late columnist Mike Royko was helping a local television station with their election night coverage and the TV reporter said that his computer data told him that alderman "Jones" was going to lose his job. But Royko, who knew the Chicago machine inside and out told him no way because they hadn't heard from the "St. Stephan's" precinct yet. The TV guy says that he can't find any "St. Stephan's" on his precinct map and Royko informs him that it's a cemetery. Sure enough about two hours later after the dead people have voted, alderman Jones is re-elected in a landslide. So please tell me what's not to like, you have drama, comedy and more colorful characters than any playwright could possibly dream up. If you stop and think about it there is not much difference between the Chicago political machine and our national political parties - neither party is above a little (sometimes a lot) political chicanery. Take the 2000 presidential election and Florida's vote counting - with a big assist from his baby brother Jeb, George W. was selected president. And let us not forget 1960, where in my favorite city, "Chicago Chicago that toddling town," they followed the mayor's instructions to, "vote early and vote often," thereby carrying the election for JFK.
Those who think they have heard the last of Rod Blagojevich are sadly mistaken. I consider him to be the Sarah Palin of Democratic politics, so don't you worry, He'll be back!