12/10/08 — Scary leaders: Illinois governor hopefully just one of the dumb ones

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Scary leaders: Illinois governor hopefully just one of the dumb ones

Nothing destroys the public's confidence in the men and women in public office more than hearing stories like the sad tale of Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich.

The governor -- soon-to-be inmate, hopefully -- decided that he would peddle the recently vacated Senate seat held by President-elect Barack Obama.

He wanted a high-profile position for himself with a six-figure salary or a better job for his wife -- but he really did not seem to be that picky, as long as the employment meant big dollars.

Now, he wasn't too smart about it -- and he was rather cocky as well -- so it isn't too surprising that someone caught on. So, at first glance, one kind of hopes that he was just a really dumb and corrupt politician who managed to slip into town under the radar.

But these days, the opposite seems likely -- he is just another, less savvy, version of some of the closet crooks who seem to be capturing public office more and more often these days.

Reports have been that Blagojevich was into more than trying to sell the Senate seat to the highest bidder. Some are saying that he was into some other less-than-honorable dealings as governor as well.

And this, of course, is on the heels of our own peccadillos here in North Carolina.

Hearing about the misdeeds of politicians is becoming way more commonplace than it should be. After all, how many weeks go by before there is some other discouraging story about someone who has sworn to represent the people honestly and without an eye to personal gain who has done exactly the opposite.

The story of the Illinois governor should be particularly disheartening to the people who live in the state -- this is not the first time they will have gone through an embarrassing incident with a governor.

That should say something about the quality of the politicians who are putting up their names to be the leader of that state.

And it should make all of us a little more vigilant, too, about the people we elect to office at the local, state and national levels.

Perhaps we need to pay a little closer attention not only to their background and political experience, but to their records, their votes and their associates.

More research won't keep the bad guys from holding office -- or corrupting others once they get there -- but putting a higher premium on honesty just might scare some of the questionable characters away.

And that would benefit all of us.

Published in Editorials on December 10, 2008 11:05 AM