Blagojevich book deal no laughing matter

By Molly Lynch

Something very strange and disturbing is happening in Illinois, and for once, I’m sick of laughing about it.

After a long and brutal winter, former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich announced on March 2 his plans to sign a six-figure book deal reflecting on his life in office, where he hopes to reveal the “dark side of politics on both the state and national level,” as quoted in a Chicago Sun-Times article the same day.

Countless media outlets have already predicted the book to be a guaranteed piece of entertainment, most likely portraying Blagojevich as a victim caught up in the tangled web of Chicago politics, which makes it all the more obvious that he is completely inept when it comes to grasping any sort of reality. But I have to wonder: After I laugh, what happens next?

In a time when people are struggling to keep their jobs and provide for their families, it’s astounding that Blagojevich—who obviously doesn’t think he’s endured enough public humiliation already—would have the audacity to expect monetary compensation for his actions.

But what is even more pathetic is that the man has become a media star for what he has done, something that makes me raise a crucial question: Why are bad politicians famous?

I have to ask myself that question repeatedly until I realize that I sound like a 5-year-old. Maybe I’m just an overly curious soul trying to understand the ways in which the world works, but treating Blagojevich like a laughable political mogul with a bad haircut would only be showing that I have absolutely no grasp on the amount of damage he has caused the state of Illinois.

In his defense, Blagojevich isn’t the only thing to taint Illinois and Chicago’s political scene. Just take a look at his predecessor, Gov. George Ryan, a man with a far less interesting haircut, who still remains pretty high up when it comes to tipping the corruption scale.

Still, I do realize that I can’t blame people for finding this whole thing amusing. In my own perfect oasis, the book wouldn’t be sold in Illinois—we’ve already endured the real Rod for the past six years, right?

But one thing is certain: Time and again, history has shown that corrupt politicians are exponentially more entertaining than straight-laced reformers (especially in Illinois). What made Blagojevich so monstrously newsworthy wasn’t so much the crimes he committed, but the gall he had to insist they were justifiable acts. And, as a result, Blagojevich (and twisted souls like him) often come off as more of a punchline than an actual threat to society.

I just ask one thing of you, Blago. When you’re trying to decide on a title for the book, please don’t settle on anything remotely similar to O.J. Simpson’s 2006 literary effort, If I Did It.