Bastet's Lair

News, book reviews, essays, interviews, fiction writing, politics, and my view of the world

August 20, 2010

Will Someone Convict Blago on All Counts, Please?

By Lynn Voedisch

I suppose if you live anywhere but in Illinois, Rod Blagojevich is just another one of those funny names. He's a goofy guy with a shock of Fifties-style hair who shows up on programs like Donald Trump's Celebrity Apprentice and The View and makes an amiable fool of himself. So what if he was impeached almost unanimously by the Illinois legislature (the sole holdout was a relative)? What a funny guy! He even does Elvis Presley impressions.

But while he was making America snicker, he was making residents of Illinois steam. This schnook not only was taped trying to shake down a children's hospital for campaign funds, tried to sell off President Barack Obama's former Senate seat to the highest bidder, but he also completely ruined the state budget. One of the things that came out of the just-ended mistrial (in which he was convicted of only one count, lying to FBI agents), was that he'd hide in the bathroom when tough decisions needed to be made. What a great governor! He handed a blown-out-of-proportion debt to lieutenant governor Pat Quinn, whom he never talked to and therefore left unequipped to deal with such contingencies. Quinn, now governor, has been scrambling ever since to try to fix the gap.

The jury in Blago's trial couldn't make up their minds on 11 counts out of 12 (and there were many more that the prosecutors hadn't even brought up yet). According to news accounts, in the case of the Obama Senate seat for sale, the jury was deadlocked at 11-1. Who was this juror who couldn't hear what everyone in the state read in transcript form? That the seat was (bleeping) golden? That if Blago couldn't get some big money for it, he'd take it himself? Was this juror crazy? Or pressured by outside forces? We'll never know.

All I know is that when the U.S. Attorney Patrick J. Fitzgerald released the partial transcripts and described Blagojevich as a "one-man crime spree," the people of the state went ballistic. People begged, pleaded, demanded that their state representatives and senators vote for impeachment. No matter how Blago tried to paint it as a political plot, the impeachment was a highly democratic move.

I've heard comments such as, "they've spent too much money already. In the court of public opinion, he's already guilty." Or, "He's got one count against him. He could go to prison on that."  Then there are those who comment about the "flimsy evidence" the prosecution presented. Let's get one thing straight: the evidence itself was not flimsy; the case the prosecution presented was bad. They only called two witnesses who were Blago turncoats. They could have called Rahm Emmanuel, the White House chief of staff, known to have been pressured by Blago thugs. They had a star list of people on the subpoena list. But they chose not to call them. Instead they relied on the tapes, which weren't enough—especially for the holdout juror.

We need a criminal conviction for Blago to end the talk that impeachment was a political game. We need a judge pounding a gavel, saying "guilty!" and sending the tap-dancing Blagojevich to jail to do some time and start thinking about what it means to expect money to fill a United States Senate seat. He was a horrible governor and he damaged our state's coffers and our state's already shaky reputation. Let's go through this monkey trial again, and let's get it right!

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Article first published as Someone Convict Blago on All Counts, Please! on Technorati.