Mr. Un-Popularity

From our February 2008 issue: Rod Blagojevich was something of a golden boy when he became the governor of Illinois—a young, charismatic champion of change with powerful backers and presidential aspirations. Now he may be the most unpopular governor in the country. A look at how things fell so completely apart

(page 7 of 9)

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From our November 2003 issue: When things were going well for Rod Blagojevich

At times Blagojevich seems to broadcast his disdain for his colleagues. Lawmakers are galled by how little time he spends at the statehouse—and their feelings aren’t soothed by knowing that he’s often absent from his Chicago office in the Thompson Center, too. “He governs out of his house or out of his campaign office,” says Fritchey. “That’s an odd way to govern.” In late November, CBS–Channel 2 captured politically embarrassing footage of Blagojevich watching a Chicago Blackhawks hockey game at the United Center while lawmakers were in Springfield, on the governor’s orders, voting on his emergency bill to bail out the CTA, Metra, and Pace. The measure fell 14 votes short. Infuriated lawmakers demanded that Blagojevich reimburse the $5,800 it costs to use a state plane to shuttle him roundtrip from Springfield to Chicago.

People who know Blagojevich well say part of the trouble comes from being an introvert in an extrovert’s business. “You wouldn’t know it if you see him,” says one former staffer, “but you practically have to push him out the door to do things.” What’s worse, he’s chronically and unapologetically late—for campaign events, for meetings, even for church—an annoying character flaw that some have dubbed “Rod Time.”

People were aghast, for instance, when Blagojevich showed up half an hour late to the funeral of state senator Vince Demuzio, a popular and venerable lawmaker who once chaired the state’s Democratic Party. In Blagojevich’s absence, Lieutenant Governor Quinn was called on to present Demuzio’s widow with the ceremonial flag that had been draped on her husband’s casket.

The prominent Democratic fundraiser and former friend of the governor’s recalls how Blagojevich arrived more than an hour and a half late for a weekday lunchtime event the fundraiser had organized for about 100 donors at a downtown restaurant. The lunch was scheduled to start at noon. By one o’clock, the fundraiser recalls, guests started leaving to go back to work. Shortly past one-thirty, he says, the governor finally arrived, but half the crowd had gone. Blagojevich had been only six blocks away. “He was late because he was at another event and he has the attitude like, ‘People just wait for me,’” the fundraiser says. 

The governor’s strange behavior has been fertile ground for local armchair psychologists. Last summer, the downstate newspaper the Peoria Journal Star declared that the governor was “going bonkers.” Privately, a few people who know the governor describe him as a “sociopath,” and they insist they’re not using hyperbole. State representative Joe Lyons, a fellow Democrat from Chicago, told reporters that Blagojevich was a “madman” and “insane.” “He shows absolutely no remorse,” says Jack Franks, the Democratic state representative. “I don’t think he gives a damn about anybody else’s feelings. He tries to demonize people who disagree with him; he’s got delusions of grandeur.”

Miller points out that people shouldn’t blame Blagojevich’s lousy governing skills on his personality alone: “You can be insane—totally whacked out psychologically—and be a good governor or a good president.”

Some people think that the governor’s behavior has turned more erratic in the past few years. One reason, they suspect, could be Barack Obama’s extraordinary rise. “Obama’s ascendancy had a significant impact on this guy,” says a Democratic lawmaker from Chicago. “Here’s a lifelong plan that’s been unfolding better than anyone could ever script—an unremarkable state’s attorney becomes an unremarkable state representative, becomes an unremarkable congressman, becomes an unlikely governor. My God, everything’s falling into place! All of a sudden the proverbial skinny guy with the funny name starts making some headway, decides to run for U.S. senator, wins the primary, then gets tapped to do the keynote speech [at the Democratic National Convention]. Knocks the fucking thing out of the park. So now when political people coast to coast talk about Illinois, they talk about Barack Obama. They don’t give a fuck about Rod Blagojevich.” (Blagojevich, like nearly every other Democratic elected official in the state, endorsed Obama in the presidential primary.)

 

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6 years ago
Posted by Anonymous

anyone who knows Rod knows he's a fraud. It's a shame but mark my words, the Feds will get him.

6 years ago
Posted by Anonymous

Excellent piece that sums up the horror that is our infamous governor. Narsissistic, sociopathic, remorseless bully just about sums it up. It might have been different if he had the brain power and business smarts to back up his ego but he's an empty balloon. If he was smarter, he would resign and save his children the embarrassment of seeing their father do the perp walk. But the stroking of his ego takes precident over all else.

6 years ago
Posted by Anonymous

I'd like to recommend a sports related process to the solution of the problems of Governor Rod. My wife and I recently moved back to Illinois after living for 28 years in New Jersey. New Jersey has an excellent Democratic Governor, John Corzine, an Illinois native (Talorville area). How about a trade, Blago for Corzine. We could throw in a supply of Vienna Beef hot dogs or whatever it would take to seal the deal. New Jersey is as comfotable as Illinois with flakes and corruption so I think this is a deal that could definitely be done.

6 years ago
Posted by Anonymous

Sounds like a fair trade to me!

6 years ago
Posted by Anonymous

anyone with a manicured pompador should NOT hold public office

6 years ago
Posted by Anonymous

I thought that part of the job description of the Governor of Illinois was that you had to do time in the "slammer" once you were out of office. It would appear ol' Rod is going to carry on the tradition.

6 years ago
Posted by Anonymous

I thought that part of the job description for the Governor of Illinois was that you had to serve time in the "slammer" after you were out of office. It would appear that ol' Rod will be carrying on that tradtion.

6 years ago
Posted by Anonymous

The Governor of Illinois is a prince compared to the idiot who is running Wisconsin. Jim Doyle takes millions of illegal donations to help him make decisions, is "in bed with" any Indian who wants a new casino and the teachers union, stated that he would raises taxes then raises every fee in the state, wants to tax every business out of the state, has a desire to force "universal health care" on Wisconsin taxpayers, etc...

Count your blessings you don't have Jim Doyle as your Governor.

6 years ago
Posted by Anonymous

Definition for Narsissistic is Rod Blagojevich,

5 years ago
Posted by Anonymous

How prophetic must the author of the 1st anonymous post feel after this exciting morning?

5 years ago
Posted by Anonymous

From outside the state looking in - why on earth do you people keep electing candidates like this???

5 years ago
Posted by Anonymous

It's not our fault, we try to elect people with back-bone and spine. . . it just so happens that their spine grew in crooked.

5 years ago
Posted by Anonymous

>Dec 9, 2008 01:33 pm
>Posted by Anonymous
>
>From outside the state looking in - why on earth do you people keep >electing candidates like this???

And from what fine state are you from? No skeletons there?

5 years ago
Posted by Anonymous

"why on earth do you people keep electing candidates like this???"

I for one did not elect this man, I'd have voted for a statue made of horse poop before I'd have voted for him. Both times.

5 years ago
Posted by Anonymous

At least, congratulations are in order: You're going to be rid of him.

Now, let's hope he doesn't name himself Senator from his jail cell...

5 years ago
Posted by Anonymous

"From outside the state looking in - why on earth do you people keep electing candidates like this???"

They elected this asno and we elected Obama!

5 years ago
Posted by Anonymous

It is too bad that our rulers are so corrupt.

5 years ago
Posted by Anonymous

Anybody or entity can give any amount to anyone running for this office. No limits! On Jan 1, state contractors will have limits, but not anyone else. How corrupting must this be? We have to determine to get this law changed, for starters.

Wow, what a psycho. Thank God for Pat Quinn, and especially for US Attorney Pat Fitzgerald. Obama better not even THINK of taking him out.

5 years ago
Posted by Anonymous

Is Blagojevich a Democrat or a Republican?

5 years ago
Posted by Anonymous

>Is Blagojevich a Democrat or a Republican?

He's a democrat

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