On Monday, a federal jury convicted former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich (D) on 17 corruption-related charges, the most prominent of which involve trying to sell President Obama's open U.S. Senate seat for personal gain shortly after the November 2008 election. Blagojevich faces up to 300 years in prison, although legal experts expect him to get six to 15 years behind bars. This was Blagojevich's second trial, after a jury deadlocked last summer on everything but one count of lying to the FBI. Now that the always-entertaining, Elvis-impersonating Democrat has lost Round 2, here's a look at who came out on top in this sordid scandal:
Blagojevich's big courtroom loss is "vindication for U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald," who was embarrassed by the failure of the first trial, say Bob Secter and Jeff Coen at the Chicago Tribune. And you have to envy the hard-charging Fitzgerald's "big strategic dilemma" in retrying someone as "sleazy" as Blago, says Allahpundit at Hot Air: "Bury the jury in [Blagojevich's] sleaze," like last time, or "keep it to a wading-pool depth."
Blagojevich is, shamefully, the fourth Illinois governor sentenced to jail time since 1973, says Steve Chapman in the Chicago Tribune. But it's "getting harder for public officials to commit crimes with impunity" in the Prairie State. Thanks to the courts, there's hope that "the next governor will be deterred by Blagojevich's fate, and maybe lower officials will take heed as well."
The White House must be glad to see the end of this mess, even though it "never really cost it anything politically," says Aaron Blake at The Washington Post. No one in Obama's circle was ever implicated in Blagojevich's "lone wolf" schemes, but the trial was an unhelpful reminder of the colorful world of Chicago politics "from whence Obama's career sprung."
The Blagojevich family
The disgraced former governor, his wife, and their two young daughters are obviously the biggest losers in this retrial. But there's also a "real Shakespearean tragedy," because Blago didn't see it coming, says Rick Moran at FrontPage. For him, like "for the classical tragic figures — Hamlet, Macbeth, King Lear — it was a combination of their flaws as human beings and their inability to recognize that those flaws would lead to their own destruction, which gave their characters pathos and supplied a sense of impending doom." But unlike Hamlet, "there will be no second act" for Blagojevich.
Blagojevich may be gone, but as much as we want it to, the jury's conviction of this "especially brazen practitioner on 17 felony counts won't eradicate the Illinois culture of political sleaze," says the Chicago Tribune in an editorial. "We seem to be electing somewhat more honest folks to high public office" these days, says Mark Brown in the Chicago Sun-Times. But voters still have a lot of work to do to stop Illinois government from being "at its core a place where money talks and insiders have the upper hand."
Let's remember that Blagojevich's "primary public service has been the entertainment of a nation for nearly three years," says Dana Milbank at The Washington Post. We'll miss his salty, wiretapped attempts to sell Obama's "bleeping-golden Senate seat," his "short and unsuccessful run" on Celebrity Apprentice, his wife's tarantula-eating turn on I'm a Celebrity... Get Me Out of Here, and the rambling news conferences where Blago compared himself to MLK and Gandhi. Luckily, for those of us "facing imminent Blagojevich withdrawal," he vows to be back soon. "Thanks, Blago. That would be bleeping golden."