The Power of The Pen Lifts Blagojevich's National Profile
Now and then some national columnist flies through Chicago on their way to the West Coast to sample a bit of the local "flavor" and to mix in some non-Beltway stories into their repertoire. Last Sunday George Will brought us his view from 50,000 feet, and the resulting fluff piece on Governor Milorad "Rod" Blagojevich has been causing buzz among Illinois politicos ever since.
The Will line that sticks most in people's craw is, "He actually is a reformer of sorts," the essential tone of the piece. Will paints the Governor as a slightly misunderstood crusader with great suits and great hair, who has been struggling to break away from the crooked Chicago-way of his father-in-law, Ald. Dick Mell (33rd).
Will's column would be funny if it wasn't missing so many important pieces, and it wasn't so powerful nationally. The facts are that Gov. Blagojevich has been having a difficult time demonstrating that he has clean hands, witness the hijinks of Dominic Longo, today's Tribune story about the Governor playing funny with the Illinois Gaming Board and a new Attorney General probe into one of his appointees illegally double dipping.
Columns by people like George Will, David Broder, and David Brooks have tremendous power among top politicians, because so many of the national political money people read them for cues on what is happening outside of Washington, D.C. If you're lucky enough to get a column like Will's written about you, the likelihood of your national -- read presidential -- aspirations coming true increase exponentially. In this case, the next time Gov. Blagojevich goes to D.C. for the National Governor's Association meeting, PAC directors will be watching to see if they should back him for a presidential run.
Note: Check out the NGA site for the picture of Blagojevich prominently displayed at the top right, along with a peppy piece about his fight in Illinois against violent video games.