Today is a very special day in Illinois. This is a once in a blue moon day when the two separate events, Groundhog Day and Primary Elections, converge. This is a very special event indeed. Not only do we get some insight into what the weather is going to be like for the next 6 weeks, but we get the added insight into what is going to occur in this state’s politics for the next 6 years.
So the legend goes, on Groundhog Day, if the groundhog emerges from his burrow and sees his shadow, he will return to that burrow for an additional 6 weeks of winter. If no shadow, we’ll have an early spring. On that extra special day when Groundhog Day and Primary Election Day converge, when the first politician of the day emerges to politic, a shadow poll is taken and if the shadow is seen, we will have 6 more years of bad politics.
On Gobbler’s Knob in Punxutawney, Pennsylvania there are all manner of theatrics and celebration accompanying Punxutawney Phil’s emergence from his burrow on February 2. There is music. There is fanfare. There is a Groundhog Queen crowned. Pomp and circumstance galore to celebrate the prognosticating rodent’s pronouncements.
In Chicago, on Groundhog Primary Day, there was no less pomp and circumstance. When the first polls opened, former Governor Rod Blagojevich appeared and in a fine example of mixed metaphors threw out the first voter. The former Governor, still out on bail, then launched into a rousing rendition of “Viva Las Vegas,” waved to the crowds of waiting voters, and promptly returned to the reality TV circuit to make more hay while the sun was still able to shine upon his countenance. It is expected that sometime later this year an encounter with a federal prosecutor, judge, and jury will send Rod the Mod into residence at the dedicated Illinois wing of a federal penetentiary, currently housing another former Governor and assorted Illinois politicians of state and local levels.
The upshot of this appearance, Mr. Blagojevich being the first politician of the day, and his subsequent early exit into exile, suggests, as Groundhog Primary Day tradition dictates, 6 more years of bad politics. Local analysts speculate that this may be a bad omen for whomever wins the U.S. Senate seat formerly occupied by President Obama. The interim Senator, it seems, barely escaped indictment, but did suffer Congressional censure for events that led to his taking the seat in the interim. Former Governor Blagojevich was rumored to be involved somehow, even though no one has been able to find a money trail leading from the Senator to the former Governor, Rod the Mod, Elvis Impersonator Extraordinaire. What ugly fate can be awaiting the Senatorial candidates and eventual winner?
In downstate Groundhog Primary news, the Groundhog Primary Day Parade in the state capital of Springfield was dazzling, according to attendees. Marching bands from high schools all over the state of Illinois were in attendance, and in their finest modes. Sixteen separate versions of “Hail to the Chief” were played in the course of the parade. Floats depicting groundhogs, elections, and federal bribery indictments were simply exquisite in their detail. The whole shebang was led by The Marching Inmates of the U.S. Federal Prison System, spectacular in their orange jumpsuits. Their precision marching, while sporting arm and leg chains, is a sight to behold, a once in a lifetime experience. Several local celebreties were applauded and cheered loudly as they strutted their stuff.
When Phil the Groundhog was asked about his view of the competing festivities in Illinois, he was silent, as usual. Phil anticipates prognosticating as usual next year when there will be no convergence of his day with primaries. Officials in Punxutawney noted that Groundhog Primary Day is a bit of a misnomer in that there are no groundhogs actually running against one another for the opportunity to be the chief prognosticator for Groundhog Day. The Groundhog Queen smiled and waved.