Obama blunder on Blago seat bidding?

By Dan Streib

In a rather hilarious story, it was reported nationwide that after Blagogate was uncovered, someone put an Illinois Senate seat up for sale on eBay. My reaction to that story can be summed up no better than the wise words of the comedian Dane Cook: “It’s funny, because it’s true.”

In all factuality, that’s basically what our governor did. He tried to give a Senate seat to the highest bidder, and thus, he basically held his own little auction on the black market. Unfortunately, it seems that PayPal somehow malfunctioned, and he was found out.

The best part of this whole situation is that someone, somewhere, in some other state, is inevitably thinking, “How inappropriate. No one in the nation should be subjected to that kind of governance. That’s just awful. And for someone to make fun of it is even worse.”

Well, that concerned fellow citizen is right to say that no one should be subjected to our kind of politics. That’s why Blago was hauled away by the feds. But I have news for that supposed friend of our state: I bet that clever eBayer was born and bred right here in good ol’ Illinois.

Simply put, the scandal that was revealed definitely caused some degree of shock to us here in the Land of Lincoln, but it didn’t cause the frustration it would have elsewhere. Why? Because we’re used to it, that’s why!

Even though Blago’s actions are still beyond comprehension to the Illinoisans who happen to be halfway decent and sane human beings, it’s not that surprising. It would be more surprising to us if a state political figure wasn’t corrupt.

In fact, before the scandal was revealed, I was in utter shock that Blagojevich wasn’t just saying, “The heck with it” and taking the Senate seat for himself. And lo and behold, it turns out that that was his plan B, and he was using it for leverage. If he didn’t get the money he wanted, he’d threaten to call off the bidding and appoint himself senator. In that way, he was able to charge more dough for the political appointment that he apparently viewed as a mere commodity.

And that plainly shows how corrupt Blago and the rest of Illinois politics really is. If this scandal didn’t hit, there would have been another one somewhere else down the road.

Given all this, it seemed to me that Barack Obama, as an ex-Illinois politician, had the appropriate reaction. The president-elect didn’t feign shock and amazement. He knows Illinois politics. And he knows that everyone familiar with his home state would sense how fake he was if he pretended otherwise.

No, Obama, simply acknowledged the news, stated that it was sad for Illinois that this happened, and called for Blagojevich to resign. He kept it cool (cue the “Saturday Night Live” skit) and reacted perfectly. Except for one thing.

He not only claimed that he hadn’t spoken with Blagojevich about his Senate replacement since the presidential election, but he claimed that he hadn’t done so beforehand, either.

Now the president-elect is certainly very methodical and careful, but does anyone honestly believe that he never spoke to Blagojevich about his (potential) replacement – at any time? Not even casually on a random phone call? Not even with one slip of the tongue saying, “Yeah, he (or she) would be a good senator”?

This can’t be true. Except for the fact that he publicly said it was. If it’s so obvious that he can’t get away with a lie like that, then maybe he was actually telling the truth. But I put the emphasis on the maybe. And who knows what he’s covering up if he’s lying. Maybe he did know something about what Blago was doing. He is a Chicago pol, after all.

But right now, further speculation on that matter is in vain. We have no further evidence to go off, and until we do, I have one suggestion for all my fellow Illini:

Get in your bid for the Senate seat before it’s too late.

Dan is a junior in political science who is wondering if Blago accepts checks.