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Blagojevich: The Railroading of a Governor

Governor Rod Blagojevich was recently unanimously ousted from office by the Illinois State Senate. His ouster has been met with jubilation from the “liberal” media, which pursued a merciless press war against him. I only wish our former Governor Taft, who was guilty of far worse “offenses” than Blagojevich, was subject to the same kind of unrelenting scrutiny. Governor Taft was indicted for accepting a number of gifts and faced four misdemeanor charges. His cronies invested millions of dollars of public taxpayer money intended for Workers’ Compensation into a bizarre rare coins scheme that led to these millions disappearing. Taft subsequently pled no contest to the charges against him, and was “penalized” with a measley fine and an public apology to the state of Ohio. Despite the convinction while in office, Taft never faced any impeachment proceedings whatsover. There was no media hysteria to do so either.

This is in sharp contrast to Blagojevich, who has not been convicted of any crime whatsoever. The federal tapes stemming from wiretapping, reveal nothing more than conversations.  I’m sure the Obama administration didn’t offer people cabinet posts in exchange for painful endorsements, like say Governor Bill Richardson? The idea that the Governor of Illinois did not want to “give away” the Senate seat for nothing in exchange is not new to politics. It is done every day. Deals are made. Senator Lieberman was allowed to keep his plush chairmanship of the Homeland Security Committee in exchange for a number of behavior modifications. By the way, the press has yet to ask why the federal authorities wiretapped Blagojevich’s wife, who is not a public official. It’s shocking that the feds would listen in on private conversations had between a person and their spouse.

The tapes seem to be quite irrelevant, since much of the impeachment trial didn’t involve the tapes at all. The Illinois State Senate didn’t go over hardly any of the criminal complaint made against the Governor. Much of the trial centered around him going around the authority of state government committee (specifically the Joint Committee on Administrative Rules) with his decision to extend healthcare benefits to poor children. That’s right, he was impeached for giving healthcare benefits to poor children after President Bush changed policies that left 35,000 families vulnerable. Even though it is clear that the committee that has oversight over such decisions is an advisory committee, and he did not abuse his power. In addition to giving social services  to children, the state Senate complained of his efforts to import generic drugs from Canada. I wish I had a Governor who engaged in such “criminal” acts!

Another “criminal act” Blagojevich supposedly did was cost the Illinois state government 2.5 million in some kind of “scheme” to *gasp* get flu vaccines in 2005. This is utter nonsense, as the Governor didn’t cost the state 2.5 million anything. The case is still pending in the courts. Blagojevich was trying to get flu vaccines from the same he did business with in his importing generic drugs from Canada for seniors and small children. The FDA intervened to stop him, because the FDA largely acts to defend the interests of US drug companies. The FDA then ordered the taxpayers to pay the 2.5 million. This is being challenged. Everything the Governor did in this case was entirely legal.

But Blagojevich wasn’t allowed any possibility of defending himself. He wa refused the opportunity to call witnesses involved in the criminal complaint that would have cleared his name of any wrongdoing. The Illinois State Senate relied on the vague conditions by which they are given authority to impeach and remove a Governor. The idea that he is “unfit for the office”. Nothing was made of his supposedly violating any law. Because they know they didn’t have a case. They also wanted to protect the newly inaugurated Obama administration from having its officials have to testify and vindicate the Governor. Better to bury him immediately and remove any hint of scandal from reaching Washington.

The press treatment of Blagojevich has been shameful. Instead of focusing on the merits of the criminal complaint, the pundits obsess over the Governor’s hairstyle. Instead of analyzing the justice of the trial proceedings, they deride his use of cowboy metaphors. I believe, like the media lynching of Congressman Gary Condit in the summer of 2001, this will eventually come back to haunt them. Of course, the damage to the reputation of the Governor is irreparable, and he is forbidden from holding public office in Illinois. I anticipate a lawsuit in which the state of the Illinois is forced to settle for damages resulting from this campaign of villification.

This is a Governor who stood up for the workers of the Republic Windows and Doors by suspending all business with the Bank of America. The very next morning, at 6:15 AM, he is arrested in an episode of political theater engineered by the overzealous US attorney Patrick Fitzgerald. Fitzgerald apparently wakes the Governor up before dawn and tells him to go to the door so the FBI can arrest him, in a brazen act to humiliate the Governor in his own home. The same Patrick Fitzgerald who held an extraordinary press conference that very same day outlining his fraudulent “case” against the Governor (including the extraordinary public dissemination of the taped conversations, including taped conversations between Mr. Blagojevich and his wife), which we’re still waiting to be substantiated by something called “evidence”. The US attorney claimed the dramatic pre-dawn arrest was done to prevent the Governor from engaging in some kind of “crime spree”, but yet he did not nofify any relevant authorities about the supposed imminent sale of the Senate seat. The US attorney claimed the public release of the tapes was done for the purposes of “deterrence” of similar conduct. This is nonsense. The purpose of releasing the tapes was to engage in a press war against the Governor, and to humiliate him as much as possible. People should note, it is illegal for grand juries to use any information they hear outside of the grand jury proceedings in deciding to indict a person. The entire theatrical process against Blagojevich was unorthodox at best and illegal at worst.

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