I Come to Bury, Not to Praise

By David Glenn Cox
http://theservantsofpilate.com

“You have sat too long here for any good you have been doing. Depart, I

say, and let us have done with you. In the name of God, go.” It was

with this quote by Oliver Cromwell that Britain’s Prime Minister

Neville Chamberlain was implored to resign his office. He was vilified

in the press as an incompetent and stupid boob, outwitted at every turn

by Adolf Hitler.

The truth is much more complicated; Chamberlain

was a sacrificial lamb brought to the slaughter. Britain had awoken to

find herself in a dangerous position. Chamberlain had been doing the

work of the people and his constituency, and just weeks before the

outbreak of war Chamberlain was proclaimed as a great statesman by

those same voices which now called for his head. It was the situation

that had changed, and it was the situation that the nation could not

tolerate.


There was no international voice calling for

Chamberlain to face down Hitler. Europe had already passed through one

cataclysmic world war a generation before and the public held no

popular sentiment for another. The failure of diplomacy against a

duplicitous foe and the military fiascoes of the British military in

Norway made the public demand a new government and someone must be

forced to pay for the failings of others. Someone must become the sin

eater, publicly castigated while devouring the sins of a whole nation.

Such

is politics, periodically some politician must be culled from the herd

and declared the winner of the lottery and then publicly stoned to

death. Our current winner is one Rod R. Blagojevich, the disgraced

former Governor of Illinois.

Those unfamiliar with Illinois

politics should understand an old Illinois saying: Just outside Chicago

there’s a place called Illinois. It is a state with two political

poles, Chicago in the north and Springfield in the south. Chicago is a

rich Democratic metropolis, and downstate Illinois, agricultural and

Republican. The two most powerful people in the state are the Governor,

and the mayor of Chicago, but not necessarily in that order. These two

poles of political power account for Illinois’ bi-polar political

process. Neither can make the other behave the way they want so it

becomes a wrestling match to force or to make a bargain for an

agreement.

Blagojevich’s guilt or innocence is really

unimportant; it doesn’t matter because this is a political

assassination. Whether it is done with a gun or a knife is unimportant;

all that matters is that it was done and done publicly. The Governor

was arrested in his home at six thirty in the morning, less than three

weeks after Barack Obama, a Senator from Illinois and from Chicago, won

the election as President of the United States.

Conservative

pundits complained that the arrest should have come sooner; that it was

delayed only to assist Obama’s presidential campaign. In fact the

opposite was true. John McCain was not even popular among Republicans

so his chances of winning the election were slim at best and slim was

nowhere near best. So why waste your good cards on a hand you can’t

win? Why not wait until the Senator from Illinois becomes the

President-elect and then try to tar him with a scandal before he even

has a chance to put his staff in place?

Blagojevich was arrested

on Tuesday, December 9, but why Tuesday? Why at six fifteen in the

morning? Monday is never a good news day; too many people are focused

on getting over the weekend or on the week ahead. And Wednesday was the

Governor’s 52nd birthday. Arresting the governor on his birthday would

add a caveat, a distraction and a sympathy angle to the story. Thursday

is too close to the weekend. Tuesday would allow for the arrest to

enjoy almost a full week in an otherwise quiet news cycle. It would

allow him to be arraigned at one thirty in the afternoon, just in time

for the evening news cycle. Plenty of time for the networks to get

their anchors in place and satellite trucks set up. It was an

opportunity to wrest from the President-elect the warm glow of the

honeymoon, and instead he’d be putting together an administration under

the taint of scandal.

What was gained by taking the suspect out

of his home in handcuffs, other than glaring images and sound bites

just in time for the morning news cycle? Patrick Fitzgerald, the US

Attorney hired by the Bush administration in 2001, has prosecuted 36

city officials involved with Chicago’s hired-truck program since 2004.

Little more than half have been convicted of the charges, but it

fosters the notion of crooked Chicago politics, and take a wild guess

which political party is in charge in Chicago. One needn’t scratch the

veneer to see the Karl Rove style at work in Fitzgerald’s actions.

At

the press conference held the morning of Blagojevich’s arrest,

Fitzgerald described the charges as “staggering” and Fitzgerald went on

to describe that the governor, “has taken us to a truly new low” by

going on “a political corruption crime spree. We acted to stop that

crime spree.” This is typical good guy/bad guy technique and his

statements would be perfectly acceptable as closing arguments in a

trial, but to use them in the opening of indictments is way over the

top. He is trying the Governor in the court of public opinion. As a US

Attorney in the Bush Justice Department he wouldn’t politicize a

prosecution, would he?

So, what heinous and reprehensible

actions were the Governor accused of? Pay-to-play politics and

attempting to sell or trade the former Senate seat of Barack Obama for

the financial gain of the governor and his wife. Those financial gains

were to be made to the governor’s reelection campaign. Come on now,

let’s get real here, what did President Bush say publicly after the

invasion of Iraq in 2003? He said that the construction contracts for

the rebuilding would be given only to the nations that assisted in the

invasion, isn’t that the worst kind of pay-to-play? Bleed and die to

play? Yet Bush continued on, unindicted.

Sweetheart deals to

Halliburton, Blackwater, and hosts of others; are we so naive to

believe that these negotiations don’t go on in every state house or

federal office in country? Politics is the art of horse trading; I

support yours, you support mine. Who wouldn’t ask the boss to go

fishing in our new bass boat if we thought it might help our chances

for promotion? Conversely, how many of us would still be employed if

hundreds of hours of our private conversations from the break room were

taped and suddenly supplied to the boss, complete with transcripts of

our most damning statements? Would he listen to the hundreds of hours

to hear if we said any nice things about him? Or would he just fire us

as ungrateful sons of bitches?

Alaska Senator Ted Stevens was

accused of pay-to-play and he held onto his Senate seat until

convicted. He was the accused at that point; he had a right to a fair

trial before being stripped of his office. No one questioned that

point; there were calls for him to step down after he was convicted

when he threatened to retain his seat during his appeal. Senator Harry

Reid said, “It’s a sad day for him, us, but you know I believe in the

American system of justice and he’s presumed innocent.”

Was

Stevens frog-marched out of his home in handcuffs? Justice Department

officials said, “Stevens will not be arrested and will be allowed to

turn himself in.” How did the Justice Department describe Stevens’

indictment? As a new low? Were the Steven’s crimes, “staggering”? From

May 1999 to August 2007, prosecutors said, the 84-year-old senator

concealed “his continuing receipt of hundreds of thousands of dollars

worth of things of value from a private corporation.”

The

unsealed indictment says the items included: home improvements to his

vacation home in Alaska, including a new first floor, garage,

wraparound deck, plumbing, electrical wiring, as well as a Viking gas

grill, furniture and tools. He also was accused of failing to report

swapping an old Ford for a new Land Rover to be driven by one of his

children. Where are the adjectives? Where is the outrage?

Much

was made of Blagojevich’s use of street language with reporters

repeating the “F*** ’em” line and “this is f***ing gold.” The quotes

from Senator Stevens, himself long known in Congress for his salty

tongue, are unknown because they weren’t released to the public, only

to his jury. The Watergate transcripts of President Nixon’s foul

language were edited to read “expletive deleted.” If Blagojevich spoke

only one line of truth, it was that “The fix is in.”

Illinois

Lt. Governor Pat Quinn called on the Governor to step down within an

hour of the announcement of the indictment. Chicago Tribune editor

Gerould W. Kern said that his newspaper delayed publishing some stories

at the request of the U.S. Attorney’s office during the course of

reporting on the accelerating investigation of Blagojevich. “On

occasion, prosecutors asked us to delay publication of stories,

asserting that disclosure would jeopardize the criminal investigation,”

Kern said. “In isolated instances, we granted the requests, but other

requests were refused.”

The right wing Chicago Tribune was only

too happy to cooperate with the Republican justice department if it

would aid in a far bigger story down the road. Especially a story that

might bring down an Illinois Democratic Governor who had been at odds

with the Tribune and the vested interests of the Tribune Corporation.

There are no two ways about it; this was a political hit, both a

parting shot by the Bush administration and a shot across the bow of

the Obama administration. If every public official guilty of

pay-to-play were to be arrested, the state houses and halls of Congress

would become vacant and quiet as a tomb. This is why it was necessary

for the Illinois Senate to all plunge their daggers in, one and all. To

do otherwise would be to announce a rejection of the coup d’etat and to

make themselves vulnerable as the next target.

The Cromwell quote used during Chamberlain’s denunciations was a bastardization of the original, the whole quote is as follows,

“It

is high time for me to put an end to your sitting in this place, which

you have dishonoured by your contempt of all virtue, and defiled by

your practice of every vice; ye are a factious crew, and enemies to all

good government; ye are a pack of mercenary wretches, and would like

Esau sell your country for a mess of pottage, and like Judas betray

your God for a few pieces of money; is there a single virtue now

remaining amongst you? is there one vice you do not possess? ye have no

more religion than my horse; gold is your God; which of you have not

barter’d your conscience for bribes? is there a man amongst you that

has the least care for the good of the Commonwealth? ye sordid

prostitutes have you not defil’d this sacred place, and turn’d the

Lord’s temple into a den of thieves, by your immoral principles and

wicked practices? Ye are grown intolerably odious to the whole nation;

you were deputed here by the people to get grievances redress’d, are

yourselves become the greatest grievance. Your country therefore calls

upon me to cleanse this Augean stable, by putting a final period to

your iniquitous proceedings in this House; and which by God’s help, and

the strength he has given me, I am now come to do; I command ye

therefore, upon the peril of your lives, to depart immediately out of

this place; go, get you out! Make haste! Ye venal slaves be gone! So!

Take away that shining bauble there, and lock up the doors. In the name

of God, go!”

I come to bury Rod R. Blagojevich not to praise him
The evil that men do lives after them;
The good is oft interred with their bones;
So let it be with Caesar. The noble Bush Justice Department and the media
Hath told you Caesar was ambitious:
If it were so, it was a grievous fault,

But the Bush Justice Department and the media say he was ambitious;
And the Bush Justice Department and the media are honourable men.
He hath brought many captives home to Rome
Whose ransoms did the general coffers fill:
Did this in Caesar seem ambitious?
When that the poor have cried, Caesar hath wept:
Ambition should be made of sterner stuff:

(photo by max73)

Ben Cohen is the editor and founder of The Daily Banter. He lives in Washington DC where he does podcasts, teaches Martial Arts, and tries to be a good father. He would be extremely disturbed if you took him too seriously.