Perhaps the Illinois governor is not innocent of crimes, although that remains to be seen. But he is certainly innocent. Consider the fictitious transcript below, it happens every day. It is the essence of quid pro quo which is as old as the cave man. “This for that.”
Gov. Blagojevitch: Okay, what else?
Toady Kiss: Well, there is the Senate vacancy. We are getting inundated by e-mails and calls for candidate A.
Gov. Blagojevitch: He’s not gonna get it.
Toady Kiss: Well, yeah, I agree. He is a taker. This guy thinks the state owes him. That he deserves it and you have to give it to him.
Gov. Blagojevitch: Arrogance.
Toady Kiss: Yeah.
Gov. Blagojevitch: And I’ll tell you something else, this is not personal. If he treats me that what, he will treat the people of Illinois that way.
Toady Kiss: You are Illinois, governor, you are Illinois.
Gov. Blagojevitch: He is selfish. If he didn’t have family money to throw around he would never have made it in politics. No respect. Nothing honorable there.
Toady Kiss: Which brings up candidate B. Total respect for you. He knows that he would never under any other circumstances ever be elected a Senator.
Gov. Blagojevitch: Not in a million years. It would cost him $20 million dollars.
Toady Kiss: And here is a man who will be grateful. He will hold a fundraiser for you every weekend for the rest of his life. (Chuckle.) Remember his rep in the House? How he supported a Republican for re-election…
Gov. Blagojevitch: Jenkins.
Toady Kiss: Yeah, because of his help on that bill. This is a man of honor. He pays his debts. Screw the consequences.
Gov. Blagojevitch: Yeah, yeah, well I want this understood. My priority will be what’s best for Illinois and what’s best for the United States of America. Period.
Toady Kiss: Of course, that goes without saying…
Gov. Blagojevitch: This Senate seat is not for sale.
Toady Kiss: Of course not.
Gov. Blagojevitch: But if a man is so stupid he doesn’t see that he is being given something he shouldn’t be representing the people of Illinois.
Toady Kiss: Exactly! Which brings us to candidate C.
Gov. Blagojevitch: He’s the one the Obama people are pushing?
Toady Kiss: Well, we don’t know that but it looks that way.
Gov. Blagojevitch: So, he is going to think that Obama made him a Senator.
Toady Kiss: Not really, Governor. This is a smart man. And this is what I wanted you to know. He gets it. He knows that the Obama connection may actually hurt him with you. He knows, and I should also add, his people know, that YOU will make the decision. And with C, you might just get a twofer. An I.O.U. with a new senator and an I.O.U. with a new president. And not just any president but a very popular one, who can raise more money in one fundraiser than candidate B could in a lifetime.
Gov. Blagojevitch: Not many presidents get to pick a new Senator.
Toady Kiss: It’s amazing.
Gov. Blagojevitch: My wife deserves a sub cabinet post. She has the talent.
Toady Kiss: No question about it. And no question that she would be very favorably considered by the Obama administration. Remember candidate B? His greatest asset is his reputation for paying his debts. And the president-elect is not a taker. And people will be watching. How he treats you will be how he treats them and they will know it and he will know it. He has to show his appreciation in an appropriate way.
Gov. Blagojevitch: He’s a giver.
Toady Kiss: He’s a giver and he knows that YOU will pick the next Senator, not him.
Gov. Blagojevitch: He can’t. He has to stay away from this.
Toady Kiss: Absolutely.
Gov. Blagojevitch: Well, just so you know, when I meet any of the Obama people, I am just going to say, “My priorities are unshakeable. The people of Illinois come first. And this decision must be for the good of America….”
Toady Kiss: That’s right.
Gov. Blagojevitch: But then I am going to say, “If there is any way that I can help this president – because I love this guy – and I am proud of this guy – then I will do it.”
Toady Kiss: That’s powerful.
Gov. Blagojevitch: And that’s all. That’s all. You will say all the rest. I don’t even want to be in the room.
Toady Kiss: Well, that’s my job.
Gov. Blagojevitch: It’s not appropriate for me to be there.
Toady Kiss: Governor, you have to watch out for Illinois. That’s why the people love you. That’s why we all love you.
In a small room on Clark Street, an FBI agent takes off his earphones and looks at U. S. Attorney, Patrick Fitzgerald, doing the same.
FBI Agent: Well, there you go. The selling of a senate seat.
Patrick Fitzgerald: No, you’re wrong. There’s nothing there.
FBI Agent: Well, I can see it. Can’t you?
Patrick Fitzgerald: Look, that’s beside the point. The American people have to see it. That’s what it comes down to.
FBI Agent: So what do you want?
Patrick Fitzgerald: I want a ten second sound bite. Maybe a dozen words, no more. Something we can wrap in a 3 minute segment for CNN or FOX.
FBI Agent: Well, it can’t be done. It will all have this context, “the people of Illinois, it’s not for sale.”
Patrick Fitzgerald: Yeah, but we won’t actually play the tapes. We will say what’s on the tapes and we will control that 3 minute segment. Remember, there will be no rebuttal on CNN. Just us.
FBI Agent: But there will be a rebuttal in court.
Patrick Fitzgerald: There may not even be a court date. IF this is done right. We present our words. The media will take it, I promise you, they will take it….
FBI Agent: No doubt.
Patrick Fitzgerald: They are in the entertainment business now. And then the American public will form an opinion and feed that back to the media and demand that the story continue on the same track.
FBI Agent: The media is a pack. They all do the same things.
Patrick Fitzgerald: And if any try to deviate from the original story they will lose their audience and revenue because the people will take it from there.
FBI Agent: Everyone will pile on. Whoever shoots first wins.
Patrick Fitzgerald: A dozen words. Understand, I don’t like this. I don’t make up the rules. I just play by the rules.
FBI Agent: And when you get to court?
Patrick Fitzgerald: Like I said. This will probably never go to court. The public will demand something. We can cut a deal, he gives up the governor’s mansion…
FBI Agent: Well, he never had the governor’s mansion. Didn’t like living there.
Patrick Fitzgerald: …. and he resigns in shame.
FBI Agent: But what if it does go to court?
Patrick Fitzgerald: If the government goes to court and loses, which will happen without me, then the people will be outraged. Because they think he is guilty because they will have your dozen or so words. And because he is guilty. I wouldn’t be doing this to an innocent man.
FBI Agent: Right.
Patrick Fitzgerald: So the Obama team will see this and they will ask me to stay on and finish this case. And frankly, this brings some nice balance to my work. I have taken both Republicans and now Democrats to task.
FBI Agent: Yeah.
Patrick Fitzgerald: But, just so you know. The timing of this has nothing to do with any of that. We have to do our job and we can’t be always looking at the clock or worrying about our own jobs.
FBI Agent: Well, that goes without saying. You have a great reputation. No one questions that.
Patrick Fitzgerald: So what we need now are…
FBI Agent: Those dozen words.
Patrick Fitzgerald: You got it. You give me those words and I will give you an American governor on a platter. And not just any governor. The governor of the home state of the president elect.
FBI Agent: Wow.
Patrick Fitzgerald: Yeah. This could be very big.