Gary Harmon Column December 11, 2008

Happy endings rarely result from bad ideas

Every now and again, we get to ponder one of those eternal questions that present themselves at an opportune moment.
In this case, we get to compare two people who have blundered into the public consciousness in ways they didn’t necessarily expect, or want.
Take, for instance, (please), the cases of the peculiarly monikered Rod Blagojevich and the equally inexplicable Nan O’Reilly.
One of them is the governor of Illinois and the other is alleged to be, or rather, was, Grand Junction’s leading madam. Exactly how much that is saying is unclear because the exact number of Grand Junction madams isn’t known.
Each is, according to charges, engaged in the retail business, though not exactly in the way they advertise themselves.
Each, apparently, seeks to rub customers the right way and each expects to be well-rewarded for the effort.
Each of them has achieved a certain notoriety of late, one nationwide and the other garnering a more regional appeal.
There are, of course, some slight differences.
Blago, as he’s known by the headline writers, is every Chicago socialite’s idea of boy toy, all Ken doll and every bit as droll.
Any resemblance O’Reilly might have to the smiling, red-haired lasses of Eire is strictly illusory. And contrary to the name of her place of business, she’s not Japanese, either. Rule out island nations entirely, in fact, though she seems to have a family background in peninsulas. Her courtroom interpreter speaks Korean.
At least O’Reilly has enough sense to have an interpreter and make use of him. Blago apparently is as subtle about his interests as some of O’Reilly’s customers.
As he mentioned on tape about his ability to appoint a U.S. senator: “I’ve got this thing, and it’s golden, and uh, uh, I’m just not giving it up for nothing.”
Some of the governor’s more erudite descriptors have been deleted from the musings related above, but the quotation nonetheless illustrates there’s nothing quite like straight talk from a Chicago politico. Eat your heart out, John McCain.

Now it’s kind of difficult these days to find anyone who has ever actually stepped through the doors of O’Reilly’s business. Or who will admit to it. Her accusers are all identified by only their initials and place of residence.

One thing seems clear from the documents released so far: O’Reilly was an unrecognized economic-development asset, drawing in business from across the state.

His former friends are running from Blago in much the same way.

Suddenly, some guy named Obama, who only a month ago saw fit to make it known that he was working closely with the governor on filling that open Senate seat, seems to have developed a strange form of sudden-onset memory loss, one previously known to occur only among piano players in offices run by people like O’Reilly. Allegedly, of course.

“I had no contact with the governor or his office and so we were not, I was not aware of what was happening,” Obama said.

All of which probably depends on the definition of the meaning of the word “contact.”

And speaking of cases — look for deals in both. There are simply too many people with too much to lose.

And you thought the oldest profession and the so-called noblest had nothing in common.


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