Monday, December 15, 2008

Blagojevich? Pretty much crazy

I figured as much:

Blagojevich, 52, rarely turns up for work at his official state office in Chicago, former employees say, is unapologetically late to almost everything, and can treat employees with disdain, cursing and erupting in fury for failings as mundane as neglecting to have at hand at all times his preferred black Paul Mitchell hairbrush. He calls the brush "the football," an allusion to the "nuclear football," or the bomb codes never to be out of reach of a president.

Many who know the governor well say that as Blagojevich's famed fund-raising capability has shrunk in recent months and as his legal bills have mounted after years of federal investigation, he seems to have transformed from what Fritchey considered callous into something closer to panicked or delusional.

Blagojevich, incredulous prosecutors say, still spoke in his recorded conversations in the past six weeks of the possibility of remaking his political future and running for president, perhaps in 2016.

That aspiration was nothing new.

At points in early 2004, Blagojevich was scheduled to appear with Senator John Kerry, the Democratic presidential nominee, at a community center in Evanston and a junior high school in Quincy. Blagojevich seemed confident, said two former employees, who refused to be named out of concern that their comments could jeopardize their current work, that he would soon be selected as Kerry's running mate (a notion an aide to Kerry's campaign says was never under consideration). At the time, there seemed only one problem: Blagojevich was uncertain he wanted to be a No. 2.

Behind the scenes, though, members of Blagojevich's staff saw a different man: one who was deeply concerned about his appearance (particularly his signature black hair, which he ignored suggestions to change) and who usually worked from his home or his North Side campaign office and could often be seen, mid- or late-morning, making a six-mile run trailed by his security team.

"God forbid you make a mistake," said one longtime former employee. In December 2003, the employee recalled, Blagojevich flew into a rage because he thought he was late for a holiday tree-lighting ceremony in Springfield, and his two young daughters — who were visiting with Santa Claus in the parlor of the Governor's Mansion — did not have their shoes on yet. "You're trying to sabotage my career!" the employee recalled Blagojevich screaming at staff members, as he charged into the parlor. "You're the worst!"