On the day when he became the first governor to be impeached in the United States in 21 years, Rod Blagojevich held a press conference that looked like something straight out of The Simpsons. Surrounded by a dozen people, Blago framed the House vote to impeach him as political payback because he fought for health care.
The embattled governor portrayed himself as an innocent fighter for Illinois families, “The House’s actions today are because I’ve done things to fight for families that are here with me today… I’m confident at the end of the day I will be properly exonerated.”
Blagojevich also told the story of a woman in his state who was diagnosed with breast cancer, which was discovered due to his program which allows all uninsured women in the state to have mammograms. He spoke about cancer screening and prescription drug coverage. He even quoted a poem by Tennyson to close the press conference.
Those who don’t understand politics have characterized his performance as bizarre, but they are missing the point. Blagojevich was actually giving us all a preview of his defense at his state senate impeachment trial. He is pulling a page straight out of the Bill Clinton playbook.
The governor believes that like Clinton he can survive impeachment if he has public support behind him.
The difference between Clinton and Blagojevich is that in the public eye, Clinton was viewed as committing a moral transgression, while Blagojevich is alleged to have been involved in a pay to play scandal. The two situations have very little in common. People may be willing to overlook a sex scandal, but trying to sell a U.S. Senate seat is a different story.
Blago has become the real life Mayor Quimby complete with distractions, smokescreens, and a willingness to use his office as a money machine. I think that once he sees that the public has not come running to his defense, Blagojevich will realize that his days are numbers, but everyone should expect him to fight until the bitter end.