Defiant in the face of the investigation of whether he attempted to sell his state’s vacant Senate seat, Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich yesterday appointed Chicago icon Dr. Bob Hartley to fill the vacancy left by President-elect Barack Obama.
The appointment is being called an attempt to moot the corruption charges brought by prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald. “Everyone loves Bob Hartley,” Blagojevich declared at a press conference to introduce Hartley to the national media.
“Look at him. He’s a modest man of unimpeachable character. Do ya hear me? Unimpeachable, he’s the button-down choice for the job,” Blagojevich said.
Hartley, a psychologist, is married to Emily Hartley, a public school teacher. The couple has resided in the Edgewater community for over 30 years. In remarks to reporters, Hartley’s trademark understated humor was on display.
“When we first spoke on the phone about the possibility of my being appointed, the governor made that joke about, ‘doctor it hurts when I do this.’ And I said, ‘unless your mother caused it, I can’t help you’,” said Hartley. When this elicited only mild chuckles from the journalists, Hartley said that a Mr. Carlin had assured him that the joke was “a laugh riot.”
Hartley said that he would fill the two years remaining on the Senate term by putting Congress on the couch, talking through issues, and getting to the roots of its problems. “If someone says liberals are the problem, I’d tell them ‘why don’t you go with that’. But I’d help them examine that phobia, and overcome that irrational fear,” Hartley said.
Today Fitzgerald’s office released a transcript of a wiretap of the initial phone call with the governor mentioned by Hartley. However, only Hartley’s side of the conversation was included.
Hartley: Hello? Yes, this is Dr. Hartley. Uh, yes, I’ll hold for Gov. Bla-. [5 minutes later] Hello, governor. I- I’m doing fine, and yourself? Uh-huh. I hadn’t heard that. No, actually I haven’t been reading the papers. Or TV, no. Really. Really? I see. That certainly does sound like a difficult situation. They offered what? Well, appreciation can be nice. I wouldn’t necessarily call it ungrateful. No, it’s not the same as a few million. Or HHS Secretary.
So what happens now? Fitzgerald, uh-huh. Grand jury, uh-huh. Yes, that does sound serious. At least you have Patti to stand by you. Oh, her too? Well, at least it’s bringing you closer together.
So how can I help you today? Uh huh. Uh huh. Uh huh. What? You want to appoint me? Beloved pop culture icon. Well, I do resemble that remark. Tell you what, uh, ‘governor,’ why don’t I transfer you to my assistant Carol, and she can schedule you for a session- I mean conference. Say this Thursday afternoon? Fine. Fine. Hold on and I’ll transfer you. What? Of course, totally confidential. Good- good bye, governor.
Fitzgerald also said that Hartley is not a focus of the overall investigation into Blagojevich.