You’ve seen those people asking Rod Blagojevich for autographs outside the Dirksen Building, haven’t you? And you’ve probably thought they were deluded groupies who still believe Rod was a great governor. Or else “fans” hired by The Publicity Agency.
Maybe not. Maybe they’re the same savvy autograph hounds who line up outside Hollywood premieres, shoving pens at Sandra Bullock. Blagojevich is, apparently, a hot commodity in the autograph business. Signed 8x10s of the ex-governor are selling for $99.95 on eBay. That’s the same price as a signed photo of Bullock in a come-hither pose.
The seller, a gentleman from Chicago Heights who's sold "maybe like five [signed items] in the last year", is a Blago fan who recommends Rod’s autobiography, The Governor: “Rod’s book is very good and after reading you will become a fan and see what Rod was trying to do for Illinois politics,” he writes. “I really think the man is innocent and didn’t listen to someone from higher up, so they found a way to get rid of him.”
The autograph hound boasts that he obtained one signature “when Rod flew home from appearing on David Letterman.”
It’s hard to fathom why Blagojevich’s signature would be so valuable. He’ll sign anything put in front of him. He even signed Roland Burris’s Senate appointment. When Blagojevich was a young man, he coveted political autographs himself, once stalking Richard Nixon for a signature. He understands why people treat disgraced pols as celebs, and doesn’t want to disappoint them.
In the marketplace of gubernatorial memorabilia, Blagojevich is commanding far more than any other governor or ex-governor in America, with the exception of Arnold Schwarzenegger, whose signed Terminator posters go for over $700. A Pat Quinn Topps trading card goes for ten bucks. A signed and certified photo of former Iowa governor Terry Branstad is $12. A signed photo of George Ryan is $24.95.
That’s about what Blagojevich would have fetched before he was arrested and pleaded his innocence on The Celebrity Apprentice or The View. This suggests two things. First, fame is a commodity whose value has nothing to do with its source. Second, Blagojevich is managing his infamy better than he managed his governorship. He’s a much better ex-governor than he was a governor.
Somehow, we always knew he hadn’t found his niche in Springfield.