Of the six Illinois governors who preceded Rod Blagojevich, three have gone to prison—a 50% conviction rate that makes dealing crack on Chicago’s West Side look safe. Still, writes Edward McClelland in Salon, nobody was prepared for the breathtaking scale of Blagojevich's corruption. "Illinoisans have always had a sense that Blagojevich was shady," he writes, but they underestimated his soaring vanity.
In his two terms, writes McClelland, Blagojevich never seemed so venal that he would "hatch a Nixonian scheme like peddling a US Senate seat as though it were a stolen flat-screen." But yesterday's indictment, in which the governor speaks about a 2016 presidential run as if it were fated, exposed the pitfalls of vanity for someone "not smart enough to be competent."