If Blago Blabs

Beside figuring out how he’ll weasel out of his recent arrest – and probable conviction – for trying to sell President-elect Barack Obama’s senate seat to the highest bidder, I wonder if the disgraced governor of Illinois, Rod Blagojevich, is contemplating the fates of Lee Harvey Oswald, Alexander Litvinenko, Vince Foster, Jim McDougal and Ron Brown – all of whom were summarily disposed of to keep them from talking.

Oswald, we know, was shot by Jack Ruby, a smalltime Dallas nightclub owner with suspected ties to the Mafia. The death effectively cemented the government’s case against the odd loner, and precluded any of the theories that tied Fidel Castro or the New Orleans mob or other numbers of people to being implicated in JFK’s assassination.

Litvinenko was a former officer of the Russian State security service, turned dissident and writer. After he accused his superiors of assassinating the Russian tycoon Boris Berzovsky, he was arrested but eventually fled to England, where he wrote two books antagonistic to the former USSR. In 2006, he died from radioactive polonium-210, suspected of having been administered by the KGB.

The deaths of Foster (chalked up to suicide), McDougal (chalked up to a heart attack) and Brown (chalked up to a plane crash) joined a long list of mysterious deaths – known as the “Clinton body count” – that took place before and during the Clinton administration.

Foster was found dead in Ft. Marcy Park in Virginia on July 20, 1993. There was a curious absence of blood at the scene and the forensic photographs disappeared. Rumor had it that the conscience-stricken Chief White House Counsel was on the verge of testifying against the president over a scandal involving the Children’s Defense Fund.

McDougal was found dead on March 8, 1998, ostensibly of a heart attack, while he was in solitary confinement in an Arkansas jail, having been convicted of 18 felony counts that had to do with bad loans made by the bank he owned, Madison Guaranty Savings & Loan. He and his wife Susan were financial partners with Bill and Hillary Clinton in real estate dealings that led to the Whitewater scandal. During the case, prosecutor Ken Starr asked for a reduced sentence for McDougal because he was cooperating in the investigation.

Brown, a former DNC Chairman and Clinton’s Commerce Secretary, was scheduled to testify in a campaign-finance scandal related to one of his employees, James Huang, who had been a multimillion-dollar fundraiser for the Democrats but was also suspected of funneling money from the Chinese government to the Clinton campaign. In the first week of April, 1996, Brown delayed testifying to travel to Bosnia-Croatia for a trade mission. The plane crashed and all 34 people aboard were killed. Subsequent investigations found a hole in Brown’s head, which appeared to be made by a bullet. But the X-rays were stolen (sound familiar?) and the theory that he was murdered because he planned to testify against President Clinton went nowhere.

The Lesson: Dead Men Don’t Talk!

Is the self-serving, wheeling-dealing Blagojevich now shaking in his boots as he realizes that the same dirty politics he’s been playing for years, with the same thugs and hardball players like convicted felon Tony Rezko, domestic terrorist William Ayers, master manipulator Rev. Jeremiah Wright, and shakedown artist Jesse Jackson – all part of Mayor Richard M. Daley's Chicago Machine – will deal with him in the same draconian ways they’ve dealt with so many others? After all, the Chicago “body count” is formidable in its own right.

Will Blago promise prosecutors that he’ll sing like a canary to save his own hide? Come to think of it, will Rezko?