Obama Beginning, Blago Ending

Divergent paths for Illinois politicians

I've left Springfield and re-packed my bags for Washington, D.C.

State capital, nation's capital.

Two historic news zones on separate planets as we both impeach and inaugurate, ready to remove a governor and welcome a new president.

The state Senate that gave political birth to Barack Obama could soon strike the political death knell for Rod Blagojevich.  Both alumni from the land of Lincoln, both spellbinding stories.

From CNN to Al Jazeera, the whole world can't stop watching.

The day the FBI arrested the governor on Dec. 9, a defense lawyer I've known for years was meeting with a prisoner-client in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. When he landed back in Chicago, he called me, incredulous, saying, "I was in Gitmo, for God's sake! And all people could talk about was Rod Blagojevich!"

It's almost indescribable.

Equally hard to describe is Wednesday's scene in Springfield as the 96th General Assembly was sworn in.

The air under the Capitol dome was filled with tension, solemnity, and irony. In the Senate chamber, congratulatory bouquets blanketed the desktops.

Little girls in velvet dresses and boys in clip-on ties skipped around the Senate floor, waiting to see a parent or grandparent take the oath of office.

But even the kids knew to shut up when the governor arrived. As Blagojevich gaveled the session to order, there was dead silence and not a single soul applauded. The governor seemed thinner, jittery, a little lost, adjusting his tie, pulling at his cuffs.

Read Carol Marin's full column in the Chicago Sun-Times.

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