WARNING: Spoilers Included
As far as bizarre, borderline-surreal political theater goes, this critic gives two enthusiastic thumbs-up to last week's hilarious press conference starring disgraced Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich, his appointment to the US Senate, Roland Burris, and various supporting characters. Set in Chicago, this "dramedy" was a smash hit with most audiences, despite testing poorly with some Congressional leaders and the quasi-fictional "Office of the President Elect."
Blagojevich appeared to relish his role in this masterpiece, appearing to delight in jarring this wacky train right off the predictable tracks of a standard political announcement. His opening salvo featured an unexpected appeal to certain targeted demographic audiences in which he extended holiday wishes in both English and Spanish. A "Feliz Navidad" in the first ten seconds? Pure gold. Before the audience could fully process this epic pander, Blago dazzled them again, turning conventional wisdom on its head by referring to his high-profile arrest and cratering public support as life in "the limelight," which he insisted he's thoroughly enjoyed. Three cheers for this visionary courage to discard the tired politico-drama cliché of fake contrition.
The wonders continued. Summoning laudable levels of cognitive dissonance, Blagojevich introduced his co-star (Burris) as a "good and honest man" of "unquestioned integrity." These lines were delivered so convincingly that one could be forgiven for momentarily ignoring Blagojevich's utter incapacity to recognize or appreciate any of the qualities he ascribed to Burris. Pivoting cleanly from the blockbuster announcement, Blago injected subtlety and depth to his performance by coolly citing the rule of law to justify his actions—without the slightest discernible trace of irony. Bravo.
Alas, it then was time to cede the spot/lime-light, albeit temporarily, to Burris. Though the former state comptroller, Illinois attorney general, and failed Gubernatorial/Senatorial/Mayoral candidate's performance was insufficiently nuanced to upstage the leading man, he certainly proved himself a serviceable supporting character. Burris began his portion of the program by rattling off some talking points about the great people of the great state of Illinois deserving and demanding full representation in Washington, DC. Luckily for the great people of his great state, Burris selflessly (heroically?) offered himself up as the public servant prepared to fill that void.