George Graham

Pundits Fiddle with Blagojevich Scandal While Economy Burns

While the U.S. economy slips into an abyss from which it might never recover, the nation’s television screens are full of the trials and tribulations of a political hack. And in Washington, it’s party politics as usual. What will it take to make the media recognize the gravity of the situation? When will politicians in Washington wake up to the fact that if they continue their squabbling there might be nothing of value left to squabble over?

Thousands of breadwinners are being thrown out of work every day, families are losing their homes, the nation’s young people are being robbed of their dreams. And in the midst of this epidemic of despair. an emergency recovery plan to halt the cycle of economic decline is being picked apart by self-serving politicians, interested only in scoring points for their party and themselves.

blogoBut that is not what TV “journalists” find most fascinating. They are obsessed with the impeachment and expulsion of Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich, who is accused of trying to sell Barack Obama’s vacant Senate seat.

If the Blagojevich scandal is enlightening in any way, it reveals (to the more naive among us) a common practice in American politics known as “pay for play.” Simply put the tradition calls for campaign conributions from those who want favors from a politician. For example, lobbyists who approach a politician with a request are told to “drop by my office.” According to MSNBC TV’s Chris Matthews, that means “drop by my office and bring a campaign contribution.”

There may be some politicians who do not accept campaign contributions from those who benefit from their decisions, but I would imagine those politicians do not remain in office for long, as it takes a lot of money to run a campaign. Admittedly, Blagojevich took the practice to an absurd extreme, demanding the contributions up front, and expressing his “pay-for-play” policy in blunt and offensive language. But how was he to know he was doing anything wrong? He grew up in Chicago and has spent his life in the political culture there. Monkey see, monkey do.

About the author


I am a Jamaican-born writer who has lived and worked in Canada and the United States. I live in Lakeland, Florida with my wife, Sandra, our three cats and two dogs. I like to play golf and enjoy our garden, even though it's a lot of work. Since retiring from newspaper reporting I've written a few books. I also write a monthly column for