Archive for the ‘phone taps’ Category

Blagojevich: Wacko, Pathological, Grandiose and Narcissistic: But Criminal?

December 13, 2008

He’s accused of talking about an ambassadorship, a Cabinet post in the Obama administration, even someday running for president – all while clearly aware of a federal corruption investigation hovering over his administration.

“Wacko” is among the unscientific diagnoses suggested by many after prosecutors this week accused Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich of essentially trying to sell the president-elect’s open U.S. Senate seat to the highest bidder.

Associated Press

Delusional, grandiose and narcissistic are some of the official terms offered up by mental health specialists, who have their own theories.

“When hubris creeps through the door, judgment just flies out the window,” said David Levy, a psychology professor at Pepperdine University’s graduate school.

Assessing the embattled governor’s state of mind has become a sort of parlor game as the enormity of the stunning allegations against him sinks in. Everyone seems to be wondering, was it lunacy, or just an extreme form of politics-as-usual?

“Blagojevich’s defense lawyers might want to consider an insanity defense,” wrote Mark Brown, a Chicago Sun-Times columnist. “He’s utterly mad. Completely and totally off his rocker.”

Not so fast, Chicago Tribune columnist John Kass said (any surprise the two papers differ?): “The pundits who make such diagnoses have never talked to a Chicago machine politician in their lives. How do they think Chicago politicians talk in private when they’re muscling some other guy for cash? Like Helen Mirren playing the queen?”

Yet, even in a state where corruption seems to flow like water, the governor’s alleged actions and words caught on tape stand out.

“These charges are absolutely stunning and it’s because it’s kind of transcended simple greed,” said Cindi Canary, executive director of the Illinois Campaign for Political Reform. “This is not like giving somebody a sewer inspector job. This is an abuse of public trust 100-fold.”

Like rubberneckers drawn to a highway crash, Levy said he’s been riveted by the developments.

“I’m really intrigued by this guy’s brazenness,” he said. “The recklessness is remarkable.”

New York City therapist Jonathan Alpert said he was struck by “the grandiosity, the grand sense of self and entitlement,” the arrogance.

Those traits are consistent with a mental condition called narcissistic personality disorder, he said. Its other symptoms can include taking advantage of others for personal gain and lack of empathy.

That could be a cynical job description for politicians. They are, after all, often lured to the job at least partly by the heady sense of power it promises. And Alpert said just having some of those behaviors doesn’t guarantee mental illness.

But Chicago psychoanalyst Mark Smaller said Blagojevich’s alleged behavior seems to have gone beyond bad judgment.

“This is somebody who knew he was being investigated, so you would think that would be the type of person” who wouldn’t want to increase the probability of being caught, Smaller said.

Instead, according to the complaint against Blagojevich, he conspired to sell or trade Barack Obama’s vacant Senate seat in recent weeks, knowing he was the target of a longtime federal probe of alleged pay-to-play politics.

Just a day before FBI agents arrested Blagojevich at his home Tuesday, he defiantly told reporters he didn’t care about reports he was being secretly taped because his words were “always lawful.”

Smaller said the self-destructiveness is stunning: “There’s something going on here that doesn’t look like normal political corruption.”

Still, some experts suggest that being in a position of power can make people feel they are impervious to danger. Levy said there’s no easy answer when it comes to Blagojevich.

“There really is no clear line between what’s normal and pathological,” he said.

Related:
Without Martin Luther King and Me; No Barack Obama

Blago in “Victim TV Tour” Quotes MLK; But Transcript Quotes May Land Him in Jail

 Blagojevich’s TV Defense: “Don’t Touch The Hair”

Illinois Governor in Corruption Scandal

December 9, 2008

Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich of Illinois was arrested and charged with corruption, including an allegation that he conspired to profit from appointing a senator to succeed Barack Obama.

By Monica Davey and Jack Healy
The New York Times

Frank Polich/Reuters

U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald discussed the charges against Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich of Illinois at a news conference in Chicago on Tuesday.

Mr. Blagojevich, a Democrat, called his sole authority to name Mr. Obama’s successor “golden,” and he sought to parlay it into a job as an ambassador or secretary of Health and Human Services, or a high-paying position at a nonprofit or an organization connected to labor unions, prosecutors said.

He also suggested, they said, that in exchange for the Senate appointment, his wife could be placed on corporate boards where she might earn as much as $150,000 a year, and he tried to gain promises of money for his campaign fund.

Amanda Rivkin/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich of Illinois.

If Mr. Blagojevich could not secure a deal to his liking, prosecutors said, he was willing to appoint himself.

“If I don’t get what I want and I’m not satisfied with it, then I’ll just take the Senate seat myself,” the governor said in recorded conversation, prosecutors said.

A 76-page affidavit from the United States Attorney’s office in the Northern District of Illinois says Mr. Blagojevich (pronounced bluh-GOY-uh-vich) was heard on wiretaps over the last month planning to “sell or trade Illinois’ United States Senate seat vacated by President-elect Barack Obama for financial and personal benefits for himself and his wife.”

The charges are part of a five-year investigation into public corruption and allegations of “pay to play” deals in the clubby world of Illinois politics. In addition to the charges related to Mr. Obama’s Senate seat, they include accusations that Mr. Blagojevich worked to gain benefits for himself, his family and his campaign fund in exchange for appointments to state boards and commissions.

The authorities recorded Mr. Blagojevich speaking with advisers, fundraisers, a spokesman and a deputy governor, using listening devices placed in his office, home telephone, and a conference room at the offices of a friend, prosecutors said.

Federal authorities said Mr. Blagojevich’s chief of staff, John Harris, was also named in the complaint. Both men are expected to appear in federal court for the first time later Tuesday.

At a news conference, Patrick Fitzgerald, the prosecutor, said that Mr. Blagojevich had gone on a “political corruption crime spree,” and that his actions had “taken us to a truly new low.”

“The conduct would make Lincoln roll over in his grave,” Mr. Fitzgerald said.

He added that the complaint “makes no allegations about the president-elect whatsoever.” In one passage of the complaint, Mr. Blagojevich is quoted cursing Mr. Obama in apparent frustration that “they’re not willing to give me anything except appreciation.”

Read the rest:
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/12/09/us/pol
itics/10Illinois.html?_r=1&hp