“if, hypothetically, my father-in-law wants me to hire Chucky Lomanto’s cousin and I don’t, my father-in-law will run to my mother-in-law, tell her all about it and convince her I was a big ingrate who wasn’t helping him.” It is unclear that Henry Adams could have put it any better “ this could turn out to be on of the masterpieces of unintentioinal humor -- can’t wait to get a copy– ht.
by David Remnick September 28, 2009
The American political memoir comes in many forms—the magisterial catalogue of heroic achievement, the backward glance at modest beginnings—but none of these sub-genres have thrived with more repetition and variation than the cri de coeur of the indicted-but-not-yet-convicted office-holding grandee. For febrile self-defensiveness and look-over-there deflections and deceptions, Rod Blagojevich’s new book, “The Governor: Finally, the Truth Behind the Political Scandal That Continues to Rock the Nation,” is surely unsurpassed.
The tone is grave. “Think about it,” Blagojevich writes. “I’m the governor of a big state. And I have a situation where if, hypothetically, my father-in-law wants me to hire Chucky Lomanto’s cousin and I don’t, my father-in-law will run to my mother-in-law, tell her all about it and convince her I was a big ingrate who wasn’t helping him.” It is unclear that Henry Adams could have put it any better.
Blagojevich has been in and out of Manhattan since his pre-dawn arrest, last winter, peddling the line that he comes from a mythological realm in which Lake Michigan, like Avernus, is an infernal and troubled water, and a god named Barack has, like Zeus, ascended Olympus, while he, like Icarus, “flew too effing close to the sun.” And yet no sun can melt Blago’s coif, which, despite his many troubles, descends like a silken espresso curtain and then swerves suddenly to the side, revealing a gaze most innocent.
On a recent Sunday evening, Blagojevich, tailed by his P.R. man and “crisis manager,” swept across the Hilton lobby unnoticed by visitors crowded around televisions playing the Giants game. “People seem to like me here,” he said as he settled into a secluded corner of the hotel bar. “No ‘F you!’ or ‘Yo, F off!’ like you get some places. Maybe I should be a New Yorker.”
Next year, a judge and a jury of his peers will deliberate over the oral-history-by-wiretap that captured Blagojevich’s self-aggrandizing ambitions and resulted in a dizzying multiple-count corruption indictment that features extortion, pocketing money through his wife’s “real-estate job,” a plot involving the withholding of money from a children’s hospital (nice!), trying to sell Barack Obama’s Senate seat as if it were a used Barcalounger on eBay, and, generally, running the state of Illinois as if its assets were his feudal preserve, an encompassing realm of criminal possibilities that the prosecutors have labelled “the Blagojevich Enterprise.”
As Blagojevich awaits his court date, he has, he said, run aground financially. He has tried to make money by writing his memoir (“All by myself. I went through six boxes of crayons”), singing Elvis Presley’s “Treat Me Nice” for a couple of hundred people at a video production company, and trying to land a spot on the NBC reality show “I’m a Celebrity . . . Get Me Out of Here.” (His wife got the part.) Blagojevich said that he considered an offer from “Keeping Up with the Kardashians,”………….
ILLUSTRATION: Tom Bachtell