By Jon Perkins
To study Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s website is to get a clear picture of a man in denial.
On the website, the embattled governor touts his initiative to keep the state’s children safe and warm, his efforts on behalf of workers at Republic Steel who were forced out of their jobs without severance pay or benefits, his progress in getting federal funding for the state’s Medicaid program and so on and so on… Everything appears to be coming up roses.
What’s not on the website site is any indication that Blagojevich is in deep trouble and is facing mounting pressure to step down because of allegations that he tired to sell President-elect Barack Obama’s vacated U.S. Senate seat.
With political opponents and the news media turning up the heat and pushing for impeachment it may become increasingly difficult for Blagojevich to govern. But there’s no way of telling that from looking at his I’m-doing-great” website. Blagojevich returned to work a day after his arrest on corruption charges and has
stayed largely out of sight.
John Jackson, a professor of political science at Southern Illinois University, said that his everything-is-normal facade is not an unusual tactic.
“It’s clear that the message of the day is business as usual,” said Jackson, who is attached to SIU’s Paul Simon Public Policy Institute, named for an Illinois icon widely known for his political integrity.
He said Blagojevich has decided to play the situation as ” ‘I’m going to continue to be an aggressive advocate for the people of Illinois.’ ”
Jackson said Blagojevich, whose approval ratings have dipped below 10 percent, has avoided the news media and most state officials for the entirety of his second term. “He can probably maintain this public facade for a long time,” he said.
But the pressure will heighten as prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald continues to investigate and the state legislature likely begins impeachment proceedings next week.
The fight won’t be easy. Blagojevich alienated most of the state’s power players in both parties long before the latest scandal surfaced publicly.