Feature

Rod Blagojevich's TV blitz

The Illinois governor skips his trial, and makes his defense on the air

What happened
The impeachment trial of Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich enters its second day on Tuesday, with lawmakers getting their first chance to listen to audiotapes prosecutors say will prove corruption charges against him. (The New York Times) Blagojevich went on a media tour instead of attending the trial, telling CNN’s Larry King he was the victim of a “witch hunt.” (Chicago Tribune)

What the commentators said
Blagojevich doesn’t know when to quit, said Dana Milbank in The Washington Post. “His lawyer has quit, the mayor of Chicago calls him ‘cuckoo.’” But instead of taking this scandal seriously he makes a fool of himself on The View and tries to deflect charges that he tried to sell Barack Obama’s Senate seat by likening himself to a wrongly accused criminal in “Jimmy Stewart movie.”

Instead of “yukking it up,” said the Chicago Sun-Times in an editorial, Blagojevich should try explaining all those “incriminating conversations recorded by the feds.” The governor claims he’s boycotting the trial because the Senate rules prohibit him from calling witnesses, but if that’s so he should protest the rules in court. If he’s innocent, “he has nothing to fear.”

Blagojevich may be guilty of “brazen self-promotion,” said Bill Press in The Huffington Post, but he has yet to be convicted of any crime. The trial in the legislature is unlikely to go his way, since he won’t be allowed to respond to any charges made by prosecutors. “In other words, he will be impeached not because he's guilty, but because he's unpopular,” which hardly seems fair.

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