Monday, December 15, 2008

Rod Blagojevich - The Sad Part

Rod Blagojevich - OUT OF WIND
Originally uploaded by craynol

Although though a lot of Chicagoans will tell you that they're not surprised by RB's behavior, I AM surprised - and sad.
You see, Rod was my neighbor for 3 years. When you see CNN broadcasting live at his home, they're standing in my (old) front yard. It's true that I moved away from Chicago in 2004, so I've not been around for most of the "troubles," and maybe that makes it easier for me to feel for this man and his family.
My experience with RB was limited. In fact, I would tell you that he wasn't an engaged neighbor. He never made any effort to get to know any of us. But I do have a couple of connections. The first is that he has a daughter just a few years older than my own. She used to like to come and play with my daughter when she was very little - and she was precocious, but sweet. I can only imagine what this must be like for her.
The second experience is more personal and more powerful. It happened on September 11, 2001. I had just made the call to shut down my company for the day and get our employees home. If you remember back to that day (and who can't), you'll probably remember just being stunned . . . as if the whole world had changed. The old rules for behavior didn't really apply. We didn't really know what to do.
When I got back to my house, RB, was sitting on his stoop talking on the phone. At the time, he was my congressman, and was just starting to look like he might be a political player - an up-and-comer. He had just moved in, and I'd never spoken to him before.
I walked across the street and introduced myself. I knew that Congress was trying to figure out how to get back to Washington with the travel bans in place, so I asked if he knew what his plan was - and he didn't. He seemed as stunned as everyone else. I asked him what he thought we ought to be doing - how we could best help. And his response stuck with me. He said, "All we can do right now is to support each other, and support President Bush."
Profound? I guess not. But there was something about the utter helplessness (and completely non-partisan-ness) of it that felt very real, very honest and very admirable.
Anyway, when I heard that he had sunk so low as to try to sell a Senate seat - and that his wife was hip-deep as well, those are the things I thought of. And that's why it makes me sad. Wasn't there more potential than that?