So many journalists have already written about Blago-gate, but what about a TV critic's perspective? Here is Maureen Ryan from the the Chicago Tribune. Guest Starring: Diane Sawyer, Barbara Walters, Grey's Anatomy, Clay Davis and Gaius Baltar.
Blagojevich proves that truth is much stranger than TV's fictions
As the scandal surrounding Gov. Rod Blagojevich has unfolded, one thought has come to mind again and again: If all of this happened on a TV show, no one would believe it.
The swearing. The hairdo. The poetry quotations. The florid protestations of innocence. The constant drama with attorneys. And finally, an impeachment trial that the politician sits out, having chosen to throw himself on the mercy of Diane Sawyer and Barbara Walters.
If all this unfolded week after week on a prime-time drama, we’d be rolling our eyes. “Seriously?” we’d ask. “These writers expect us to believe that a politician would allegedly attempt to sell his office and engage in all of this narcissistic melodrama? And have Elvis’ hair?”
“Come on,” we’d say. “This is just not believable.” And we’d probably change the channel. Maybe we’d watch “Grey’s Anatomy” instead, where the prospect of a character having intimate relations with the ghost of her dead lover seems credible by comparison to l’affair Blago.
But for those very reasons -- the outlandish melodrama that cries out for spoofing from “The Daily Show," “Saturday Night Live” and late-night comics (as the Tribune's Phil Rosenthal pointed out) -- the Blagojevich affair is like the car accident you can’t look away from. Every time you think it can’t get more operatic, it does. Every time you think it can’t be more soapy, it gets even more bizarre. I’m expecting an evil twin to show up any day now.
How’s this for outrageous? Blagojevich told the women of “The View” on Monday that he’s being persecuted because he wanted to do so many good things. He’s being impeached for wanting to help senior citizens with their transportation, for giving children better access to health care
“It’s because I did things for people,” Blagojevich said.
To both Walters and Sawyer, Blagojevich made the ominous case that his impeachment would strike a blow against democracy. He was in New York instead of Springfield because this situation is “bigger” than him or the state of Illinois. However it’s not, apparently, bigger than his ego (which is, come to think of it, is rivaling that of the slippery Gaius Baltar from "Battlestar Galactica").
If there’s one TV character that our governor has consistently reminded me of, it’s State Sen. Clay Davis, a fictional politician on “The Wire.” For five season, Davis was Maryland’s fixer extraordinaire. He collected the money and doled out the favors, and public servants crossed him at their peril. He knew where all the bodies were buried and he never, ever forgot who owed him what.
In “The Wire’s” final season, Davis was charged with an array of bribery charges, which he brazened out in the courtroom, unleashing a florid, self-satisfying defense that got him acquitted. He may have been more popular after his trial than before.
The differences between Davis and Blagojevich? Davis never quoted Kipling. And he clearly thought small. His “I’ve done too many good things” media blitz only extended as far as Baltimore’s radio stations.
But the biggest difference -- potentially? Davis stayed in office.
Below is a clip from YouTube comparing Blagojevich to Davis, and a clip of Blagojevich on “Good Morning America.” You may find that the parallels are striking. Even though it’s a reminder that truth is much stranger than fiction.