It would be America's ultimate political reality show: Rod and Sarah, two ex-governors, bound to make out like bandits and discover their true soulmates--each other. In the finale, Sarah would promise to visit Rod in federal prison every chance she gets to be in the neighborhood. Ratings would be sky high for their teary goodbye.
(Cut to a tender moment, just the two of them on camera: "Oh, yeah, Blago, I know that part of Indiana real well. We'll getcha out in no time. And is it any accident you're on trial because of your good friend Barack?")
Quite the pair, Rod Blagojevich and Sarah Palin, a Democratic son of Illinois and a Republican woman about the same age as her wilderness state, Alaska. Truly, if these early 21st century characters did not exist, they could not be invented. Show judges like Donald Trump would be impressed by their breathtaking "chutzpah." Another possible judge, Simon the Englishman, might remark on their unsurpassed "narcissistic avarice" as if there was anything wrong with that.
("So here I am just trying to fill a seat--I've got this thing and it's [censored] golden, darlin.' That's the state of play where I live. The deal is the deal, one hand washes the other. This is a private conversation, right? What is it about a girl with glasses?")
Viewers across America would note a curious thing: Blagojevich and Palin were former governors with zero interest in governing. Each one left office before their terms ended--she voluntarily and he because he was impeached and convicted. In the course of the reality show, not a word of substance or policy would escape their lips. For each, the state's highest political office was a platform to perks, clothes, ego-enhancing notoriety, or celebrity. Palin quickly parlayed her scant public service into lavish personal wealth, a lucrative book deal and a Fox News perch.
("Blago, for a D, you're a man's man--none of this Chicago community organizer nose up in the air.")
Neither one of our couple would have to crack a book or picked up a newspaper in all the time spend together on the show--but who cares? Sarah can channel the Bard.
("Blago, whatever happens, I'll never refudiate you. You're the sweetest ethnic kinda guy I've ever seen. When I'm president, I'll pardon you.")
In the real world, David Broder, the dean of Washington pundits, takes it as an article of faith that the country's practical wisdom collectively resides in the 50 state governors. He covers their conferences and writes columns about what's on their minds. With all due respect, this pair of rascals casts real doubt on that old statehouse paradigm. Sure, there are good governors out there, such as Martin O'Malley of Maryland and Charlie Crist of Florida--but you wouldn't need your fingers and toes to count all of them. Mediocrity at best is what the average governor seems to bring to the table these days. Among the worst, Gov. Jan Brewer of Arizona has caused havoc with her harsh pursuit of immigrants in laws about to go into effect. And Californians are wondering why they fell for and elected a movie actor to be governor, again.
As a peer of Palin (in her 40s) and Blagojevich (in his 50s), I'm talkin' 'bout my generation. It's excruciating that this question fairly arises: Is their failure to govern (across party lines) the best we can do in providing a leadership class? Actually, President Obama, who will be 49 in a week, is the best we can do.