Allen Drury, the former newspaper man turned author of the famed “Advise and Consent” series, came to my mind this morning as I watched Governor Rod Blagojevich in front of the Illinois Senate. Drury had constructed a whole list of multi-dimensional characters for his books, and some where based on real life politicians. For whatever reason my mind thought about how Drury might see Blagojevich as the perfect outline for a long-running character that would be weaved throughout a series of books. After all, there is no way to tell the Blagojevich story in only one volume.
When Rod Blagojevich was first running for governor in Illinois I was struck by his ability to speak on the stump to voters. He had an ample supply of stories and witty replies that made him look comfortable in front of a crowd, and the voters felt he was ‘one of them’, and voted him into office. There was talk about how he looked like a national candidate, and retained the confidence and style that made him a natural for higher office. I recall at the time I told my office mates at a non-profit in Madison that this was a politician to watch, as he had real potential. There also were the facts of his being on the right side of the issues, be it health care or the environment. There was so much hope for this new governor, and the future that he might have in Democratic politics.
Whatever character flaws Rod Blagojevich had hid from the public during that first campaign for governor came bursting out for all to see once he took office. The smoothness of the campaign soon turned into slickness, and the concern that he exhibited for voters soon was discovered to be a sideshow for the real reason he wanted office. Self-aggrandizement and personal gain.
Rod Blagojevich is not the first politician to be so crass and brazen, and he will not be the last. But it is sad to know that there was real opportunity for this man to have made a legacy….a good one mind you….in Illinois and then perhaps stepped out onto the national stage…..in a positive way. Needless to say it did not turn out the way many had hoped, or thought possible.
Allen Drury would have seen him as a perfect character for a book. Sadly, we have watched this story unfold and know all too well this time it is not fiction.