I suppose the easy thing to do would be to follow everyone else's lead and write a column about Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich's potty mouth. So much has been written about the governor's self-proclaimed "testicular virility" that you've probably gotten the point, however.

Instead, I think I'll tell you a story.

Two years ago, I was at a party at the governor's mansion. The governor's first spring session was winding down to a successful close, and his top advisors were jubilant.

One of those advisors, Deputy Governor Bradley Tusk, took me aside for a little chat. Tusk was a 29-year-old New Yorker when he was made the Illinois governor's right-hand man. The press didn't care for him much, and I had taken a few potshots myself.

Tusk wanted me to admit that I had been wrong about Governor Blagojevich. I criticized the governor so much during that first year that my own mother had asked me to lay off. He's such a nice young man, she said. He's fresh, he's different. Cut him a little slack.

Tusk, like my mom, thought I had been too harsh.

I was pretty harsh. I repeatedly slammed the governor for his brash, campaign-style approach to governance. I was down on his constant press conferences and his perpetual need to spar with an enemy that he more often than not created himself. I didn't care for his blatant disrespect for other elected officials and the cavalier way he railed against institutions just because they were there. I thought he didn't apply himself enough to details of government and too often seemed immensely ignorant of basic things, such as what was in the state Constitution.

But the governor had just wrapped up one of the most progressive sessions in Illinois history. A raft of new labor-friendly laws were enacted, new social programs were created, new protections for women were assured, and much more seemed on the horizon. Agree with him or not, it was a pretty impressive session, Tusk pointed out.

Still, I wasn't convinced. Most of those new laws had been blocked for years by Republican governors or Republican legislative leaders. The steam valve was released in 2003, and all Blagojevich had to do was sign everything that had arrived on his desk.

And then I tried to warn Tusk that even though his boss was currently riding high in the polls and people like my mom thought he was doing a good job, there was big trouble ahead.

"You can't sustain this," I said.

Eventually, voters would tire of his overly confrontational mannerisms and the often juvenile behavior emanating from the governor's office. The governor had set expectations of political and government reform so high that even a little old-style patronage would be big news. At the time, he was still new, and, most importantly, he wasn't George Ryan. Eventually, he'd have to grow into the office and start acting like a responsible adult.

And so I waited. And waited. Nothing changed. Rod Blagojevich is the same man today that he was two years ago. He uses the same old shtick, the same lines, the same enemies. He even plays the same songs at his campaign-style swings through the state.

I pulled this from a column I wrote about the governor during his 2002 campaign: "Rod Blagojevich is a poll-driven, over-handled goofball who can't seem to think on his feet and whose political connections are a bit on the shady side."

Sound familiar?

The creators of the TV sitcom Seinfeld kept a sign above their desks that read, in part, "No lessons learned." The idea was that the characters were not supposed to "grow" the way they do on most other TV shows - and in real life, for that matter.

Larry David and Jerry Seinfeld might want to make a pilgrimage to Illinois soon, because their brilliant idea has been playing out here for more than two years now.

The governor never learns. He never grows. And, just as I predicted, he's become vastly unpopular. The latest Chicago Tribune poll showed that just 34 percent of voters approve of his job performance. He's embroiled in so many scandals and corruption investigations that even I have lost count - and I do this for a living.

I don't care how many millions he has in his campaign account. If he doesn't grow into this job, he's in for a big surprise next November. Mom, it turns out, now agrees with me.

Rich Miller also publishes Capitol Fax, a daily political newsletter. He can be reached at (http://www.capitolfax.blogspot.com).

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