New York City and Chicago have always been at war for cultural dominance. We make perfect pizza, and they make pizza double-decker pizza-pies. We make hot dogs, and they make hot dogs with a bunch of vegetables thrown on top. We have Saturday Night Live, they have Second City. (And though the name of their admittedly hilarious flagship comedy group is ironically self-deprecating, every joke has a glimmer, or in this case, a smattering of truth in it.)
So it comes as little surprise to hear that less than a year after our governor, the Honarable Eliot Spitzer is busted for getting down with prostitutes (with his socks on, of course), the governor of Illinois is indicted for an outrageously over-the-top crime, one so inconceivably and flagrantly un-American that it defies political logic and reason.
But we regret to inform Governor Rod Blagojevich that, try as he might, his criminal activities, with their absolute contempt for his constituents and political allies, is just empty swagger compared to the emptiness and self-destruction of our own disgraced State Executive.
On Tuesday, Governor Rod “The Bod” Blagojevich was indicted for trying to sell the Senate seat vacated by President-elect Barack Obama to the highest bidder. We’ll give you a second to wipe up the chocolate milk that you just spit out of your mouth, and clarify that the second-term governor of Illinois, a state known for political corruption, was recorded on audiotape soliciting bids for what is, without a doubt, the most watched Senate seat of the last decade.
He spoke about it brazenly to aides and those he was soliciting the seat to, despite the fact that this behavior was likely to earn him many political and corporate enemies, and threatened to give himself the seat, if no one met his demands.
His crime reeks of political one-upmanship. The tapes released show that his primary objective in selling the Senate seat was to make money, an amount that he described as “more than $250,000 a year.” While that doesn’t sound like a lot of money, it does prove that his betrayal of the American people was based entirely in greed, and greed does not constitute a legendary political scandal.
The desire for money is such an ordinary, run-of-the-mill motivation for high political crimes. Looking at our own Eliot Spitzer, we can see that his compulsion to pay for unprotected sex with the very prostitutes that he put behind bars as State Attorney General is a manifestation of the deep-seeded guilt that he feels for prosecuting others.
He was driven to privately engage in the sleazy and unsafe behavior that, as a public figure, he had sworn to end, and his duplicity led to the development of his persona as a “steamrolling” politician that wields ultimate power. He didn’t get down with the world’s oldest profession to make any quick cash; he did it because he was an emotionally twisted, masochistic egomaniac.
Can Illinois beat that? Not by a long shot.
Chicago, and by extension Illinois, may have a troubled past of organized crime, institutionalized corruption, and crappy pizza, but New York is home to the most depraved so-and-so’s in the entire world. From the terrifying heights of Son of Sam and Travis Bickle on down to our modern day politicians, real estate brokers, and newspaper publishers, nobody’s crazier than a New York crook.