Sunday, December 14, 2008

Frank Rich Spot on On Blagojevich

I loved Frank Rich's Sunday column. His take echoes mine (in my previous post), in that I'm sympathetic to Blagojevich. I feel sorry for the poor schnook. I was trying to get at that in my post, that he is an easy scapegoat, an easy unsophisticated target for Fitzgerald because of his profanity-laced Soprano-like language, which comes from the culture he grew up in.

Rich writes: "Blagojevich’s alleged crimes pale next to the larger scandals of Washington and Wall Street. Yet those who promoted and condoned the twin national catastrophes of reckless war in Iraq and reckless gambling in our markets have largely escaped the accountability that now seems to await the Chicago punk nabbed by the United States attorney, Patrick Fitzgerald."

"Our next president, like his predecessor, is promising 'a new era of responsibility and accountability.' We must hope he means it. Meanwhile, we have the governor he leaves behind in Illinois to serve as our national whipping boy, the one betrayer of the public trust who could actually end up paying for his behavior. The surveillance tapes of Blagojevich are so fabulous it seems a tragedy we don’t have similar audio records of the bigger fish who have wrecked the country. But in these hard times we’ll take what we can get."

Rich recounts a long list of figures who have betrayed the public trust, President Bush who lied about WMD, and economic advisers like Robert Rubin who gets away with making a "phone call to a former colleague in the Treasury Department to float the idea of asking credit-rating agencies to delay downgrading Enron’s debt." As Rich writes of Rubin and Phil Gramm, "both captains of finance remain unapologetic, unaccountable and still at their banks, which have each lost more than 70 percent of their shareholders’ value this year and have collectively announced more than 90,000 layoffs so far."

These are people responsible for the layoffs of thousands, for millions in shareholder losses, for the loss of lives in the war due to fabrication of WMDs, for are going to walk away scot-free. Rubin is someone who knows how to get away with bending the law while earning millions of dollars in a way that poor Blagojevich never knew how to do. Rubin knows the proper thing to say. Just as Trump, as Rich writes, knows how to avoid repaying a 40-million construction loan on his obscene tower in Chicago by copping to an "act of God."

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