Ousted Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich's book telling "the truth" about his arrest on corruption charges makes for interesting reading. In "The Governor" (Phoenix, 352 pages), the impeached pol details his connections to President Obama and his political team, which offers a useful tutorial on the linkages and practices of Chicago's corrupt Democratic machine. The most compelling selling point of this book, however, is its entertainment value.
A few samples of Mr. Blagojevich's flights of self-important rhetorical fancy should do the trick:
c "He's [Barack Obama] now the President of the United States, like Zeus in Greek mythology, on top of Mt. Olympus. I'm Icarus, who flew too close to the Sun. And I crashed to the ground."
c "You're the Serbian John Kennedy," the book quotes an unnamed Serbian official as saying about Mr. Blagojevich.
c "I am absolutely certain that I would have obtained any (House) committee I wanted and rose through the ranks like Rahm Emanuel did, if only I wanted to spend my time in Congress raising money for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. And by the way, I would have been good at it and would have succeeded."
c "I see my political rise with the help of my father-in-law as having elements of Henry IV, part II and Henry V and culminating with my own personal Battle of Agincourt: winning the gubernatorial election. What happened after I became governor is a story filled with elements from Othello, King Lear and Julius Caesar; a story filled with intrigue, of jealousy, of manipulation, of unnatural familial behavior, and of betrayals. And while you're at it, you might as well throw in a little Richard the Third."
Not content to be the starring act in Shakespeare or the gudgeon of Greek tragedy, the former governor stakes a claim to being the legitimate political heir to legendary presidents Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln and presents himself as an historic social reformer in the ilk of Martin Luther King.
Like the vast right-wing conspiracy that supposedly kept Hillary Rodham Clinton from achieving greatness when she was first lady, Mr. Blagojevich's defensive self-portrait paints the jailbird as a populist martyr who is simply misunderstood. His downfall is the fault of an overzealous prosecutor; political Brutuses he wrongly thought were friends -- including convicted real estate financier, political donor and Obama ally Tony Rezko; and craven politicians opposed to his crusade to help out the proverbial little guy.
Mr. Blagojevich has yet to face the music on the charges against him. Juries need more than witty tales to let a man walk. If his legal defense is anything like the rationalizations in his overbaked book, the governor will have plenty of quiet time, locked away, to work on his prose.