While discussing the Rod Blagoyovich trial the other day, someone asked the insightful question: "How did this &()&^&* ever get in the position to be elected governor to begin with?"
We all know that Rod was connected, especially through his father in law, Alderman Dick Mell, but I have a theory of my own, born out of a story Rod shared with a room full of real estate professionals at an event a few years ago, and a dose of my own speculation.
Around two years ago, a local real estate firm was able to get Governor Rod to address of crowd of their clients at a real estate symposium for commercial real estate investors. One of the brokers at the firm was related to Rod, so the Governor was offering a favor to his relative and addressed us. The speech occurred at an interesting time, as Rod was avoiding much of the media, since he was in the midst of a State crisis, with the RTA, CTA and Metra facing massive fiscal deficits. Battling the Illinois legislative body regarding funding, Rod was staying far away from Springfield, where everyone seemed to want him to be.
Instead of being in Springfield, Rod appeared on the podium at our event. Rod was humble, charming and personable, telling us stories about being Governor, and about some of the exciting experiences he had during the years preceding his first bid for Governor. Among experiences that he shared with us was one about the time when, as Congressman, he attended an event headlined by President Clinton. After the event, Rod told us, Clinton asked Rod if he needed a ride back to Washington. Of course, Rod accepted, and he described the thrill of taking a ride aboard Air Force One along with the President of the United States.
Now, here comes my speculation. Take it for what its worth.
I presume that one of President Clinton's advisers at the time that Congressman Blagoyovich rode on Air Force One was Rahm Emanuel, who, midway through Clinton's second term, had resigned and joined the private sector, where he quickly made a lot of money as an investment banker. I speculate that Rahm had further political ambitions, which, at the time was obtaining a Congressional seat. Problem: none were vacant. Rahm's home district at the time was the Illinois Fifth District, previously held by Dan Rostenkowski, later, by Rod. (Then by Rahm, and now, I'm glad to say, by Mike Quigley.)
I speculate that President Clinton was mightily impressed with Rahm, and he thought that Rahm could be a vitally effective Congressman, and perhaps helpful to him and to his wife a few years down the road, potentially a vital ally when Hillary would seek the Presidency.
The only way to open up that Congressional seat, I speculate, was for Bill and Rahm to find a way for Blago to move up.
It sure causes me to wonder what President Clinton and the young Congressman spoke about while on Air Force One.
Not that any of this means anything, but this is an interesting theory to keep in mind as we wait to see if Rahm is forced to testify in coming weeks.