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The [Wednesday] Papers

Rod Blagojevich wasn't just a doof, or an unwitting dupe. He set out to get rich from day one and to further his political ambitions by amassing a cache of cash to ward off opponents. He enlisted in his schemes not only his culpable and indictable wife, but his estranged brother. And instead of governing the state, he politicized every nuance of his administration from his dining room table. (He told aides he wanted to rule like Richard M. Daley, which tells us something about the pernicious influence of the mayor whose middle initial stood for Manager according to so many dazzled reporters.) Blago knew what he was doing every step of the way.

Lawmakers thought he was such a pathological liar that they forced him to sign Memorandum of Agreements memoranda of understanding so he couldn't deny what was just said. Once caught, he spread his lies around the globe. He lied at his impeachment proceedings. He lied in every (enabling) media venue he could find. And he lied on the witness stand. Why should we feel even an ounce of sympathy for him?

Don't forget the human toll; his failure to govern is costing us dearly now. The poorest and most vulnerable shoulder the biggest burden for his ridiculous budget gimmicks and refusal to get real. He left behind Pat Quinn and Mike Madigan, filling the vacuum with more vacuity.

Blago betrayed public office, and, to me, there are few betrayals larger; this is the basis of our democracy and self-rule. He stole from our pocketbooks and our souls.

He deserves the full penalty of the law.


Add Richard Roeper to the list of sympathizers.

"Look at Rod Blagojevich's life right now," Roeper writes. "He's been stripped of his law license. He was impeached and removed from office by a vote of 114-1. He's broke. His house is for sale. His daughters have seen their father become a disgrace and punch line. His obituary will lead with his criminal convictions. In the court of public opinion, he's already been sentenced to a lifetime of disgrace.

"Yes, Blagojevich did all that to himself, and has no one to blame but himself. But given the price he's already paid and the fact he was arrested before he could execute one of his wacky plans to sell the Senate seat, I have no great desire to see the guy serve 15-20 years in prison."


Perhaps some media folks sympathize because Blago is "like us," not "them."

"[S]hould he really do more time than hundreds if not thousands of violent criminals?" Roeper asks. "[I] a country where Dr. Conrad Murray gets four years and will serve much less than that for contributing to Michael Jackson's death, seems out of whack for Blago to serve a dozen years or more."

Fittingly, Roeper's best analogy is a celebrity doctor in a celebrity death. That's his world, but it's not the world of nearly everyone else who goes through the criminal justice system.

Consider a more learned view from Alison Siegler, the director of the Federal Criminal Justice Clinic at the University of Chicago Law School:

"Rod Blagojevich is a lucky man," Siegler writes in the Tribune. "He is lucky that the U.S. attorney's office is asking U.S. District Judge James Zagel to send him to prison for only 15 to 20 years. He is lucky that the prosecution is not asking for him to do 30 years to life in prison, which is the amount of time called for by federal sentencing guidelines - the laws that set punishment in federal cases based on the severity of the crime.

"Blagojevich is especially lucky that he is not my recent client, a drug-addicted man who grew up on the South Side and pleaded guilty to selling two ounces of drugs to a government informant for $200. I represented this man, and the same U.S. attorney's office asked Zagel to follow the sentencing guidelines strictly and send him to prison for up to 27 years. Luckily for Blagojevich, the prosecutors filed a motion asking for a far lighter sentence for the former governor who, they themselves contend, deeply damaged the integrity of the political system by trying to hand over a U.S. Senate seat in exchange for $1.5 million in donations and then blatantly lied about his conduct on the stand.

"The U.S. attorney's office is treating Blagojevich shockingly differently than it treats poor, minority defendants charged with less serious crimes. I have been representing indigent defendants in Chicago for nearly a decade, and in almost every one of the hundreds of cases I have litigated, the U.S. attorney's office has asked for the guidelines sentence, which is usually quite harsh. But in Blagojevich's case, the prosecution has asked the judge to chop the guidelines sentence in half."


On the other hand, we've come up with some alternative sentences for Blago worse than prison.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Stand and deliver.


Posted on December 7, 2011

MUSIC - Chief Keef Changed The Industry.
TV - Vizio's Best Product Is You.
POLITICS - UIC: Soda Taxes Work.
SPORTS - More McCaskey Malpractice.

BOOKS - All About Poop.


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