What's All This Then?
Wednesday, June 29, 2011
A FAREWELL TO BLAGO
Since I have written about the trials and tribulations of Rod Blagojevich on at least a half dozen occasions - sometimes humorously - sometimes with serious advice - I feel obligated to make some comments about his conviction on seventeen of the alleged criminal acts contained in his indictment. If you have read any of my previous comments about the man and his two trials, you will not be surprised to learn that I disagree with the verdict. Meaning no disrespect to the members of the jury who convicted him, I think they were bamboozled into their decision - not so much by the evidence but by the weight of the accusations and the conduct of Judge Zagel. I wasn’t at the trial and I haven’t read transcripts of the proceedings - but I pretty much know the nature of the charges and I have read news accounts of some of the Judge’s rulings - such as telling the defendant what he can and can’t say in his own defense - a ruling that I find mind boggling.
The problem facing the jury, one that was extremely difficult for them to overcome, was the assertion that many of the activities described in the indictment were criminal in nature. What for decades was known and accepted as the down and dirty business of politics has in recent times been endowed with the label of criminality - and without someone in the jury room questioning that kind of interpretation, the outcome was inevitable. I’ve said it before an d I’ll say it once again - I’ve been where Blagojevich was. I was once indicted on multiple allegedly "criminal" counts. Nothing alleged in the indictment was true and nothing alleged was criminal - but had the judge before whom the indictment was presented allowed it to proceed to trial, a jury might well have accepted the assertion that perfectly normal business activity was in fact "criminal.". Blago was about as unsophisticated as one could be in his pursuit of a political career - and he probably crossed the line of acceptable political discourse and behavior on multiple occasions, but in the end no individual was harmed and no actual damage was done to the business of the State.
The assertion of the prosecution and of the judge was that the mere stated desire to accomplish something, the accomplishment of which would be illegal, is in itself a crime - but sifting through all the recordings and live renditions of Blago’s unfortunate affliction of Diarrhea of the Mouth secondary to Flights of Nonsensical Fancy - who could really tell at what point he may have crossed what I would think of as an imaginary line between the ramblings of a fool and the cunning plans of an arch criminal? But even if his looking to be rewarded for naming a desired candidate fill the President’s unfinished Senate term and even if his efforts to squeeze campaign contributions from those needing or entitled to some help from the state had the smell of freshly manufactured sleaze - was that enough reason to expose him to the possibility of a jail term of ten years or more - which will certainly be the result of those seventeen guilty verdicts?
I’m no fan of Blagojevich. I agree with Chicago Tribune columnist Eric Zorn that he had no business being Illinois’ chief executive. He was totally the wrong person for the job - and that was almost bound to get him in trouble. But I also agree with Zorn about the argument that Blago and his lawyers couldn’t raise at his trial. The "Oh Come On." argument. It’s an argument that I would have advanced had I been sitting in that jury room. He’s a clown who didn’t know any better. He’s been disgraced, kicked out of office, broke and in debt with his political career over. with no sure way of making a living and there are no dead or broken bodies in his wake. Enough already. Not guilty of being an arch criminal who deserves to rot in jail for the next ten or more years. But I wasn’t on the jury, nor was there anyone skeptical of the prosecution’s theories or the neutrality of the judge. So it’s farewell to Blago. And look out Governor Quinn. Nice guy? Honest? Maybe, but can he spell Patrick Fitzgerald?