The Blago road show

Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich has chosen, as is his right, to skip his impeachment trial by the state Senate. He is not even mounting a defense. Indeed, his high-powered Chicago lawyer quit the case, saying, "I never require a client to do what I say, but I do require them to at least listen."

Instead, the governor chose to go on the road with his rich mixture of self-pity, denial and ego, telling any TV camera that will listen that he is an innocent man, a martyr, in fact. In parallels only Blagojevich would discern, he likened himself to Mahatma Gandhi, Nelson Mandela and Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.

An ambitious young pol who once harbored — and may still — presidential ambitions, Blagojevich was catapulted out of political obscurity, caused in part by his difficult-to-pronounce name, when federal prosecutors made public expletive-filled tapes in which he appeared to be trying to auction off Barack Obama’s vacant U.S. Senate seat to the highest bidder. He intimated that in exchange for a Cabinet post he would have let Obama name his replacement.

Instead, he was rewarded with nothing but "appreciation," impeachment and criminal charges. Apparently feeling he could make more headway with the American public than the feds and the Illinois Senate, Blagojevich made the rounds of network talk shows proclaiming his innocence amidst frequent recitations from Kipling, with the occasional lashing of Tennyson.

And why him? It is all part of a sinister plot by the state legislature to raise taxes, which his presence alone now thwarts. Eminent amateur psychiatrist and Chicago Mayor Richard Daley had another explanation: "Cuckoo."

It is all very bizarre and, in its own way, sad. Too late to do him any good, the scandal has removed one obstacle to the governor’s political ambitions: Newscasters everywhere now know how to pronounce his name.