Tuesday, January 13, 2009

The Rod Blagojevich Book Club

Although not to the extent suggested by back-to-back blogs about him, Rod Blagojevich fascinates me. What a bizarre, ballsy, venal man. Of course, now that he's run circles around Harry Reid (favorite blog title of the past few weeks: I Want To Play Poker With Harry Reid -- seriously, he's a terrible Majority Leader; how can we get rid of him?), he has fewer means at his disposal to inject himself into public matters outside of his impeachment trial and ongoing legal "troubles."

That said, almost every time he does make a statement, he drops some British literature into it. In his appearance on December 19th in which he claimed no wrongdoing, he quoted Rudyard Kipling's "If—":
If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or, being lied about, don't deal in lies,
Or, being hated, don't give way to hating
I guess you can't accuse him of self-diminishment. In this respect, Blago found a fellow traveler in Rod Burris.

When he was impeached by the IL House, he referenced the short story "The Loneliness of the Long-Distance Runner" by British author Alan Silltoe, comparing himself to the protagonist. Of course, in that story, the protagonist is a criminal.

And at his subsequent press conference, he quoted Alfred, Lord Tennyson's poem "Ulysses":
We are not now that strength which in old days
Moved earth and heaven, that which we are, we are;
One equal temper of heroic hearts,
Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.
Again, wow. It's been said (and made into a Charlie Kaufman movie) that we're all the protagonist of our own story, but Blagojevich seems to think he's the protagonist of everyone else's as well.

Before long, Wikipedia will have to have a tag for "works of prose or poetry publicly referenced by Rod Blagojevich". Maybe Blago missed his true calling. Rather than being a corrupt politician, he could have been an English professor. I mean this with no intended offense to any actual English professor. But seriously, his potty mouth would've made hm immensely popular with the first-year students of some private liberal arts school. "Alright, motherfuckers, I'm going to need your papers," he might say, to the warm chuckle of a classful of jaded 18 year-olds.

So, a question for people who know more about British literature than I do: what will he reference next? I know he's already quoted Tennyson, but I'm hoping that upon the IL Senate's voting on the impeachment, he'll find it appropriate to quote from "The Charge of the Light Brigade":
Theirs not to make reply
Theirs not to reason why
Theirs but to do and die.
Death being, in this case, political.

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