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Commentary: What was Blagojevich thinking?

  • Story Highlights
  • Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich indicted on federal conspiracy charges
  • Blagojevich allegedly pressured Tribune Company to fire editors
  • Governor allegedly asked for political donations in exchange for Senate appointment
  • Blagojevich also sought board appointments for his wife, complaint says
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By Gloria Borger
CNN Senior Political Analyst
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(CNN) -- In the great annals of "What Was He Thinking?" (political edition), the case of Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich sets a new standard -- for its breathtaking stupidity, venality and illegality.

Gloria Borger says the case of Gov. Rod Blagojevich represents the pinnacle of political brainlessness.

Here's a fellow who knew he was under investigation for "pay to play" schemes, who then allegedly continued to extort campaign contributions -- and more -- without any thought that someone was actually watching.

The Illinois governor retires the stupidity trophy currently held by soon-to-be-ex-Rep. William Jefferson, who stuffed $90,000 into his freezer.

At least Jefferson tried to hide his criminality. iReport.com: Do you trust your leaders?

Blagojevich, it seems, figured he was a Master of the Universe, immune from the scrutiny he should have known he was under.

Of course, the feds were listening. Sad for the governor, the wiretaps that prosecutors detailed reveal a stunning and disgusting portrayal of a pol trying to extract personal gain from almost anyone -- whether a potential Senate candidate, a children's hospital or a newspaper. Video Watch Blagojevich have his day in court »

The breadth of the governor's behavior -- as outlined in a 78-page criminal complaint -- reads like a caricature of dumb and crooked political behavior.

Sad to say, it's real.

Let's start with the smaller stuff, at least in this complaint:

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Trying to get some critics from the Chicago Tribune editorial board fired in exchange for state money to assist in the sale of Wrigley Field.

As the governor delicately put it in his demand for a quid pro quo to his deputy; "fire those f---ers." Charming. Video Watch the prosecutor lay out the case »

And then, as if no one would notice -- or believe -- the crooked governor was behind the brilliant idea, he suggested his chief of staff, John Harris, make the suggestion, "not me." As if that would confuse the feds.

The stupidity (I'm running out of synonyms here) is only compounded when the governor decides it would be a good idea to raffle off Barack Obama's Senate seat to the highest bidder.

And, if no one bid high enough, then he just might take the seat himself. "If ... they're not going to offer anything of value, then I might just take it," the governor said.

Later, the governor put it more, er, succinctly: The Senate seat "is a f---ing valuable thing, you just don't give it away for nothing."

Maybe an ambassadorship. Maybe an appointment as Health and Human Services secretary -- a "trade" as he put it. Or maybe Energy, a loyal aide suggested, because that department is "the one that makes the most money."

Now we're all getting nauseated.

But it gets worse. Ever the caring hubby, he's looking out for his wife's bottom line, wondering aloud to his top staffer "if there is a play here, with these guys, with her" to work for a lobbying firm in Washington or New York at a better salary. Pay to play? Gee, wonder if the feds listening in got a laugh out of that one. Video Watch Sen. Durbin say 'it's a sad day' for Illinois »

And here's the coup de grace: This Democratic governor, who apparently hasn't been paying attention to anything Obama has said over the past two years, wonders aloud what he can get from Obama.

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His general counsel, ever helpful, suggests that maybe Obama would get the gov's wife on some corporate boards, according to the criminal complaint. Really? Is that something Obama -- who won't even hire lobbyists for his administration -- would do?

The stupidity (really need a new word) is breathtaking. Let's see what story the governor comes up with in his own defense. It will be hard. As Richard Nixon learned, the tapes don't lie.

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