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April 14, 2009

Where Did Mr. and Mrs. Blago Go Wrong?

Blago When the Chicago Sun-Times ran a childhood portrait of brothers Rod and Rob Blagojevich recently, it got me thinking: What did their parents do wrong, anyway? In every profile I have read of our ex-governor, they sounded like a nice, hardworking immigrant family. How do you produce a couple of kids that excel in clean-cut pursuits like high school basketball and work to put themselves through school, and yet also allegedly turn out to be world-class liars and creeps?

(I also wondered who on Earth would name their two sons such similar names as Rod and Rob -- but Wikipedia says that Rod's real first name is Milorad, so that explains that.)

Did the Blagojovich parents set some kind of example that success mattered more than integrity? Did they use the kind of language heard on those tapes around the dinner table?

Or maybe, since studies showwe overemphasize the effect of our nurturing on our kids, the Blago boys were just born this way. Maybe their familial hometown back in Serbia is full of characters with overly full bangs and a penchant for trading power for privileges.

The whole Blagojevich saga is full of parent/child issues. Chicago Parent magazine happened to feature first lady Patti Blagojevich talking about what a great job they do raising their girls like normal kids, just before the tapes were released featuring that very same mom cursing like a sailor as she engaged in some very shady-sounding phone conversations. Now, her husband's indictment alleges that Patti received thousands of dollars in real estate transactions she did not earn.

Is she a model mom or a potty-mouthed rule breaker? Is it possible to be both? I can sort of imagine that the Blagojeviches might have been able to be good parents to their girls before all this was made public. They attribute many of their decisions, such as staying in their Chicago neighborhood, to concern for their kids having a regular life.

But if they are guilty as charged, they certainly aren't setting much of an example for the kids. And even if he were not convicted, the former governor's weasly public behavior isn't exactly a model of good character.

Then there is the father-daughter drama between Patti and dad Richard Mell, a powerful Chicago alderman who has long feuded with his son-in-law. Mell has defended his daughter's foul mouth, saying she was under a lot of pressure when she said all those bleeps.

The whole thing certainly puts into perspective any little squabbles or scandals that pop up in my family, or any worries I have about whether I am setting a good example for my little ones. I do feel sorry for the Blagojevich girls, ages 12 and 5, who certainly don't have that "normal" life their parents wanted for them now. And I'm glad that my problems are small compared to the Blago family's conflicts and intrigues.

Then I remember that the Blagos' problems ARE my problems -- and my kids' problems. Because we're the ones left to deal with this nearly-bankrupt and still-corrupt state while the Blagojeviches are at Disney World.

Original Chicago Moms Blog post. Carrie blogs at My Funny, Funny Family and Shoplifting With Permission. Photo by soundfromwayout, used via Creative Commons license.

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