Most folks, and virtually all lawyers, think he should have kept his mouth shut – let his calm and cool attorneys handle public inquires. That’s what all those other indicted politicians did. Oh wait! All those other indicted politicians eventually got convicted and went to jail. Rod dodged 23 bullets and his brother, Robert, all four of the charges against him.
I proffered the opinion that as humiliating some of his pants dropping shticks were, they just might give him a few jurors – at least one – who will hold out for a guy they have come to know “more personally.” As of yet, I have not heard why that one juror was a hold out, but she kept Blago and brother from looking at some serious hard time – at least for the moment.
Trying to influence the jury pool is not invented genius. Former Governor George Ryan tried the same thing with his release of the death row prisoners – which got him a couple of Nobel Peace Prize nominations while he was awaiting trial. Apparently neither the Nobel jury nor the Federal Court jury was impressed. He did not get the Nobel Prize, but he did get six years in the slammer. Ryan was also hoping to get a friendly African-American on the panel since almost all the commuted prisoners were black.
Blago did not fall for any of that. He understood that winning the bleeding hearts of European liberals and the small cadre of domestic capital punishment opponents was not good enough. Maybe he knew that blacks tend to make tough jurors, and if the gambit didn’t work for a pompous white Republican politician, it was not likely to work just because he was a pompous white Democrat politician.
No. No. No. Blago knew that his best chance was to appeal to the Jerry Springer fans. Methinks, Donald Trump did not recognize Blago’s abilities when he booted him off the Assistant show much too soon.
Now, I know the ex-Governor did get convicted on one-half of one count – lying to the FBI – and is now officially a felon. But, after the feds threw everything they had at him and ginned up 24 real criminal counts with hundreds of years of jail time, you have to give the victory to Blago and his equally outrageous father and son defense team for staving off twenty-three and a half counts.
His only conviction was for fibbing to the FBI, not on any of the really serious criminal offenses. Personally, I think that is a pretty cheesy charge, and a five year penalty is a bit extreme. It is what they hung Dick Cheney’s guy, Scooter Libby and Martha Stewart after they could not convict them on the larger charges.
Since anyone under extensive interrogation from the FBI is likely to spin, fib a bit or simply misstate the truth, it is almost impossible not to be convicted. It is a “crime” that never would have been committed if the person was not indicted on real criminal charges.
It seems the prosecutors are determined to re-try the Blagojevich brothers. Why? Because they can. The deck is stacked against defendants to such an extent that convictions are almost unavoidable. THAT is what is so impressive about the jury action. The Blagojevich brothers beat some incredibly long odds – but unfortunately for them, the game is not over. If nothing else, the re-trial will provide some more great politics-as-entertainment for the reality television viewers.
My guess is that the re-trial will make Blago a bit of a folk hero. I know he was not acquitted on any of the charges. But, some seem to feel that enough is enough. The feds used their unlimited resources, but could not convince all 12 members of the jury. In the process they have destroyed the lives and reputations of two people. The humiliated the then Governor by arresting him in front of his family in order to stop what they allege was a rampant crime spree – which apparently the jury did not see. They got Blago booted from office without any presumption of innocence. They have bankrupted two families with children. In our system, prosecution IS punishment.
Okay. So much for the sympathy. I think Blago is as guilty as sin – and I think it is not likely he will pull the same rabbit out of the hat a second time. He may get off on some charges, but I am betting he gets found guilty on at least half. Blago has only survived to fight another day.