Campbell Brown opens the interview with what all America wants to know: WTF?
Campbell Brown: So, governor, welcome. It's good to have you here.Blagojevich then stands up like the upstanding citizen he is, and proclaims himself to be the Anti Richard Nixon:
Gov. Rod Blagojevich: Thanks for having me here.
Brown: You've got to be setting a TV record. I've got the numbers.
Seventeen interviews in 48 hours. Explain to me, though, how any of this is helping the people of Illinois.
Blagojevich: Well, what I'm trying to do to the best of my ability is to highlight to the people of Illinois, because there are a lot of us in Illinois who watch your program, and the people across America that there's a process going on in Illinois, an impeachment process, an effort to remove me from office. I'm the twice elected governor by the people, but they're doing it with a process that doesn't allow me to bring witnesses in, doesn't allow me to contest evidence and doesn't require them to prove criminal allegations by bringing witnesses and evidence in. And it's just a fundamentally ...
Brown: How exactly are you explaining that to the people of Illinois when you go on a show like "The View" and you let the ladies run their fingers through your hair?
Blagojevich: Well, I didn't expect she would do that. She did it on her own.
[Blagojevich]: I want to have every taped conversation of the wiretapped phone involved, heard in that process. I am in many ways the anti-Richard Nixon, who worked very hard in Watergate to keep those tapes from being heard. I want every one of them heard so that the full story can come out and I'd like to do it sooner rather than later so I can begin the process of clearing my name, because I did not engage in criminal wrongdoing.And a few laughs later, Brown calls him on it:
Brown: But it's very hard to understand how you could say and this is what you're caught on tape saying, quote, "If I don't get what I want and I'm not satisfied with it, then I'll just take the Senate seat myself." And the Senate seat is quote, "is a bleeping valuable thing. You don't just give it away for nothing."It's an EXCITING JOURNEY all right!
I mean, put that in context for me. Please.
Blagojevich: Well, we haven't heard the tapes which I am urging that we get to ...
Brown: Are you saying you didn't say that?
Blagojevich: I'm simply saying we haven't heard the tapes, so I can't confirm or deny whether that is precisely what was said, but having said that, let me just saying this.
The first one you alluded to. The governor can make himself a senator.
If I was all about myself and this was about a selfish thing, I could have made myself a senator the day after Barack Obama was elected president. I'd be in none of this mess. There would be no Sen. Roland Burris and I'd be part of this exciting journey to change America.
I also particularly like the comic rhythm of this exchange:
Brown: The president says he's disappointed in you. He's appalled by you.But wait! There's more!
Blagojevich: I don't know if he said that or not.
Brown: Those were his words in a press conference.
Blagojevich: He may have.
Brown: He was asked directly about it.
Blagojevich: But if I am given a chance to bring evidence in an impeachment trial and have the whole story brought to bear. If I can bring his chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel in to testify, who said 10 days ago that there was nothing inappropriate in his conversations with me.
If I can bring Valerie Jarrett, a top staffer to President Obama in to testify. If I can bring in Congressman [Jesse] Jackson [Jr.], Sen. [Dick] Durbin, Sen. [Harry] Reid, Sen. [Robert] Menendez and a whole series of other people -- in fact, every single person I talked to about the Senate seat, then I can clear my name and we can move forward in Illinois and fairness and justice will prevail.Oh! See, there are people who'd be able to testify in his defense, but they won't come outright and say it because they're chicken! The burden is on everybody else to get 'em to testify! Rod, you are a GENIUS!
Brown: If you are so innocent here as you say and if you've been such a great government -- governor, why aren't these people speaking out now?
Why aren't they coming to your defense? Because they certainly aren't.
Blagojevich: Which people.
Brown: The ones you just listed.
Blagojevich: Well, if they're asked to come participate in a ...
Brown: But if you're innocent, why wouldn't they feel compelled to step forward right now and speak out?
Blagojevich: You should ask them. But I can tell you I had several different conversations with a variety of people that I talked to in total, the conversations with some of those people who I'd like to have them express what the situation is. But I think you know politics enough. That's why you have a show. When the heat is on, politicians run.
And finally, the coup de grace. Think Blagojevich quoting poetry in official hearings and press conferences is nutty? Well, don't worry, it's not nutty, he didn't actually read all that stuff. He saw it on TV!
Brown: So I've got to ask one more thing.Indeed it has. And I didn't even get into the "comparing himself to Mandela/MLK/Gandhi" circular argument. You'll just have to read that for yourself.
Brown: The poetry.
Blagojevich: Is that bad?
Brown: What's with the poetry?
Blagojevich: Is that bad?
Brown: I'm not suggesting at all it's bad. I think this is a pretty innocuous question. Well, just -- I'm curious. What's with the poetry?
Blagojevich: Well, here, let me set the record straight. I don't know a lot of poetry. There's a couple of poems I've learned ever since I was a little kid. And the one that I quoted about, "If you can keep your head when all about you are losing theirs and blaming it on you, if you can trust yourself when all men doubt you." That's a poem by Rudyard Kipling and I think he wrote it in the late 1890s.
It's one that I learned when I was about 15 or 16 years old. I didn't read it in a library book. I was watching the "NFL Today" on CBS at that time and at halftime they had this show where they would do these special profiles and they had this guy with this legendary voice named Chuck Vicenda (ph) who was doing this thing on the great running backs of the NFL and he talked about this poem, which ever since this time I thought was very inspirational and words to live by, so as a kid I went to the school library the next day, Xeroxed it and I memorized it and have known it ever since. And the poem, "Ulysses," by Tennyson, which I think you are alluding to is another one of those.
But I don't know a lot of them. The ones I know are motivators. Is that bad?
Brown: Governor -- no, not at all. Just -- I was very curious. It's been interesting to watch.
I know that if Blagojevich were my governor, I'd probably be more pissed and tired about him than anything else. But since I'm several states away, I get to point and laugh. HA ha! I will miss his crazy antics once he's gone. Since he's been forbidden ever to hold public office in Illinois again, I just don't know where I'll have to go to watch him next.