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Saturday, December 13, 2008

The Madigans' Peculiar Political Ploy

From the minute Lisa Madigan, Illinois' Attorney General, inserted herself into the Blagojevich fiasco, I smelled something rotten in Denmark. Madigan has done scant little to fight corruption both in the Governor's office and in the state at large. She first stated, disingenuously in my opinion, that she was ready to indict the Governor if he didn't step down immediately. Right after this, she called on an obscure state statute to allow the State's Supreme Court to remove Blagojevich because he is "unfit for office". The problem is that 1) this statute has never been used and 2) this statute was meant for those Governors that were actually incapicated. Being a sociopath is not exactly what the statute was meant for. Yet, Madigan made full of the media spotlight to come out firmly that Blagojevich needs to be removed.

The ploy is even more peculiar once you understand the full family relationships. Her father, Michael Madigan, is the Speaker of the Illinois House. He has a long and contentious history with the current Governor, even though they are both Democrats. (like Madigan's daughter) In 2007, while Blagojevich was merely under the cloud of suspicion, Madigan admitted that he did some research into potential impeachment hearings of Blagojevich. Now, more than ever, would be the time for Madigan to bring impeachment hearings. As Speaker he is the one with the power. He has the mandate and the will of the people. So, why is Madigan waiting? First, it's important to understand that his daughter Lisa was on most people's short list for the Senator's job, and she would also be an early front runner for Blagojevich's current job.

By stepping aside, Madigan also allows Lisa to grab the spotlight and distance herself as much as possible from Blagojevich. Job one for any Democrat running in the next two years in Illinois will be to put as much distance from Blagojevich as possible. In other words, most Democrats will need to perform a sleight of hand on the voters. Madigan would be one of those. While Fitzgerald was investigating, indicting, prosecuting, and convicting all sorts of power broker around Blagojevich and with his sights set directly on the Governor himself, Madigan was conspicously absent in doing the same duty from her own position of power.

It's very likely this latest ploy is an attempt by Madigan, the younger, to create the appearance that she is very far away from Blagojevich. Meanwhile, Madigan, the older, is staying out of her way for the time being so she can grab the Blagojevich distancing spotlight. If all of this sounds cynical, welcome to standard operating procedure in Chicago, Cook County and Springfield politics. Lisa Madigan has spent the last four years ignoring the corruption of Illinois politicians while Patrick Fitzgerald has been a one man wrecking crew trying to bring down the entire system on his own. Now, she sees an opportunity to appear as a crusader against corruption and she is taking it. Hopefully, the voters won't be fooled, but my guess is this is exactly the sort of ploy that she will use to distance herself from Blagojevich when the time comes for her to make her next move up the ladder of Illinois power.

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