Blagojevich: ‘I’m Blacker Than Barack Obama’ and Like Mordechai of The Purim Story


blagojevichDeposed Gov. Rod Blagojevich is apologizing for comments in a new interview, in which he claims he is “blacker” than President Barack Obama.  “It was a very stupid thing to say,” Blagojevich told CBS 2’s Susan Carlson outside his house this morning. “Obviously, I’m not blacker than President Obama.”

That is what Blagojevich said when CBS 2 caught up with him this morning, taking his daughter to school.

But that is the opposite of what he told Scott Raab of Esquire Magazine in an interview published early this morning.

In the interview, Blagojevich says: “I’m blacker than Barack Obama. I shined shoes. I grew up in a five-room apartment. My father had a little Laundromat in a black community not far from where he lived. I saw it all growing up.”

Blagojevich defended his comments this morning, saying he had meant to articulate something other than he did.

“I was speaking metaphorically, and it was, again, a stupid way of saying it,” Blagojevich said, “but the frustration is real, and the frustration is still, today, average, ordinary people aren’t getting a fair shake.”

The White House has declined to comment on the Esquire interview. But people who spoke to CBS 2 were not impressed with the former governor’s comments in the article.

The White House wouldn’t comment on the quote, but it’s generating a lot of controversy, even in Blago’s own neighborhood.

“It’s not right when people go around with a black-o-meter trying to decide that certain things make them more black than another person,” said Shawn Coleman. “If you’re black, you’re black.”

“He really said that?!” asked Liz Hishmeh. “That’s a rough comment. I don’t know what to say. That’s a really bad comment.”

“Because one may have been through a tragic experience in their life does not mean that their ethnic cultural background makes them blacker or whiter than anyone,” the Rev. Richard Bush said earlier today.

In the article, which is part of the February issue of Esquire, Blagojevich’s comments are laden with inappropriate language as he repeats his long-standing claim that he was falsely accused by prosecutors.

“(T)he people of Illinois had their governor stolen from them based on false accusations that were made knowingly,” Blagojevich says in the article.

He compares himself to Galileo, and also to Mordecai of the Purim story in Megillas Esther, who is to be executed for not bowing down to a high official, Haman, in the kingdom of Persia, but is later vindicated by King Achashveirosh. Blagojevich characterizes Mordecai as “falsely accused.”

He also repeats a claim that the real story behind the allegations that he tried to sell President Obama’s Senate seat, claiming that he was really striking a deal to appoint Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan to the U.S. Senate in exchange for public works jobs, expansion of health care for Illinois citizens, and a promise against a tax hike.

He says he talked to Rahm Emanuel about engineering the deal to put Madigan in the Senate. This, Blagojevich says, was even though he “hates” Madigan and her father, state House Majority Leader Michael Madigan.

{CBS2 Chicago/Noam Newscenter}