Blagojevich’s ‘football’

BLAGOJEVICH’S ‘FOOTBALL’…. Reading over the criminal complaint against Rod Blagojevich last week, and seeing the partial transcripts of his telephone conversations, one gets the sense that the governor may not only be guilty of cartoonish corruption, but may also be … a terribly odd person.

Indeed, I don’t have a background on mental health, but I’ve seen more than a few reports over the last six days about whether Blagojevich, who knew he was being closely monitored, may not be, shall we say, playing with a full deck.

The New York Times reports today on some of the governor’s idiosyncratic personality traits.

[Blagojevich] can treat employees with disdain, cursing and erupting in fury for failings as mundane as neglecting to have at hand at all times his preferred black Paul Mitchell hairbrush. He calls the brush “the football,” an allusion to the “nuclear football,” or the bomb codes never to be out of reach of a president.

In 1996, John Fritchey, a Democrat who shared a campaign office with Mr. Blagojevich, was told that his stepfather had suffered a serious stroke. He walked over to Mr. Blagojevich, who was making fund-raising calls, and shared the news.

“He proceeded to tell me that he was sorry, and then, in the next breath, he asked me if I could talk to my family about contributing money to his campaign,” recalled Mr. Fritchey, now a state representative and a critic of the governor. “To do that, and in such a nonchalant manner, didn’t strike me as something a normal person would do.”

Many who know the governor well say that as Mr. Blagojevich’s famed fund-raising capability seemed to have shrunk in recent months and as his legal bills mounted after years of federal investigation, he appeared to have evolved from what Mr. Fritchey considered callous into something closer to panicked or delusional.

For what it’s worth, while state attorney general Lisa Madigan said yesterday that she believes Blagojevich may step down from office as early as today, the governor’s spokesperson, Lucio Guerrero, soon after announced that wasn’t the case. In fact, the spokesperson said Blagojevich would head to work today and study some pending legislation. “He has no plans of resigning today or tomorrow,” Guerrero said.

Blagojevich’s apparent interest in state business notwithstanding, he also has other matters on his mind — on Saturday, he met with a high-profile criminal defense attorney in Chicago.

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