Doug Finke: Blagojevich book news chases away winter blahs

Doug Finke

After what was surely a long and dismal winter, we all finally have some good news to cheer.

Rod Blagojevich is writing a book.  

True, it took only about 30 seconds after word of the book leaked out for the first snide comments to be voiced about it. The book will be self-serving tripe. It will paint Blagojevich as a victim and a hero. It will cast aspersions against Blagojevich's "enemies," raising innuendos with nothing to back them up.

Well, yeah, it will be all of that and more. That's exactly why it's going to be so entertaining when it comes out. We've all lived through the last six years of Blagojevich. We're all painfully aware of his near total inability to see and grasp reality. The facts of his administration are all out there. So the fun will be when the book comes out and we can all compare the Gospel According to Blagojevich to the Reality We All Know.

Admit it, the book can't miss. It may well go down as the all-time comedy classic to come out of Illinois. And that's exactly why we should not criticize Blagojevich for writing it. Anything that brings so much joy to people should be praised, not condemned.

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You have to figure just the first hundred pages or so of the book should propel the reader right into the middle of Blagojevich's life and experience with Chicago politics.

Now some people can sit back and say here's a guy of limited smarts and ability who managed to get elected to the General Assembly, Congress and the Executive Mansion with nothing more than well-connected relatives and a pile of their campaign money. But surely the book will explain how that wasn't the case and what really happened.

The other part worth knowing is how a guy like Blagojevich manages to graduate from law school and get a license to practice – not to mention he gets into law school in the first place. There may even be a few lawyers around the state interested in that part of the story.

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One Chicago gossip columnist reported that Blagojevich is truly working hard on the book. Each day, he puts on a special "writing jacket" and sits down to begin scribbling. It wasn't clear if the jacket is one of those 1950s style smoking jackets favored by Hugh Hefner or a more rugged-looking thing like a safari jacket.

We assume the aluminum foil hat is an automatic part of the get-up.

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Given Blagojevich's persecution complex, you wonder if he gave any thought to naming his book "Job 2." As you may recall, Job is currently in use.

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A lot of authors who write memoirs get assistance from professional writers, people who know how to spell, are accurate and can string many words together in a coherent way.

Presumably, Blagojevich is not getting help from his former press staff.

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This cutting the state deficit thing may be tougher than people are letting on.

The Senate formed a committee, made up of equal numbers of Democrats and Republicans, that is supposed to recommend ways of closing the state's $9 billion-plus budget deficit. There are obvious ways, like raising taxes by $9 billion, although that large of an increase seems unlikely.

What the organizers wanted to hear was a combination of ideas – maybe some tax hikes, but also some innovative ways to hold the line on expenses. So the committee met for the first time last week and the innovative ideas numbered one. That was mainly expanding charter schools where kids can get a better education for less money than in a regular public school. That should make the teachers unions happy.

The unions themselves pressed the idea that taxes should be raised to provide more money for schools. That's not innovative, but it is predictable.

A couple of committee members groused after the hearing that the various education groups that testified seemed to pay no attention to cutting or at least curtailing costs. They all wanted to go back to the magic money tree and get more to spend.

The committee has other hearings. We'll see if any other groups get the message.

Doug Finke can be reached at (217) 788-1527 ordoug.finke@sj-r.com.