Major breaking news on all the cable nets, but I’m not sure why. All things being equal, trying to sell the former Senate seat of the president of the United States should be a Biden-esque big effing deal, but (a) this is Illinois we’re talking about and (b) neither Obama nor any of his staff were ever criminally implicated. So why the lingering media fascination with Blago? Is it his preternaturally unctuous, made-for-reality-TV persona — sort of a beta-male version of Trump?
It’s the hair, isn’t it?
This marks the second time in less than a year that the 54-year-old Blagojevich, the onlyIllinois chief executive ever impeached and ousted from office, had been convicted of a crime. The jury at his first trial last summer found him guilty of lying to theFBI, though that panel deadlocked on all the other counts. That impasse set the stage for a retrial.
This time the verdict was unequivocal, with the jury of 11 women and one man finding Blagojevich guilty on 17 criminal counts he faced, including charges of wire fraud, attempted extortion, bribery and conspiracy. The marquee charge in the case involved an attempt by Blagojevich in late 2008 to cash in on his power to name a replacement in theU.S. Senate for newly electedPresident Barack Obama…
Responding to complaints from jurors in the first trial that the government presentation was confusing, prosecutors streamlined the case by jettisoning complicated racketeering charges. Charges were also dropped against Blagojevich’s brother, Robert, his chief fundraiser who had been tried beside the former governor last summer.
In repackaging the case, prosecutors dispensed with evidence aimed at showing that Blagojevich had conspired with top fundraisers from the earliest days of his administration to corrupt state boards and pocket ill-gotten proceeds. Also erased was testimony about Blagojevich’s expensive taste in clothing and his tendency to shirk official responsibilities.
He was so sleazy, in other words, that the prosecution’s big strategic dilemma was whether to bury the jury in sleaze and risk having them drown in it or keep it to a wading-pool depth and risk leaving out incriminating stuff that might otherwise secure a conviction. They ended up nailing him on 17 of 20 counts (full list here), making Blago the fourth Illinois governor since 1973 to be convicted of a felony (and the second to be prosecuted by Patrick Fitzgerald). His predecessor, George Ryan, is in prison at this very moment.
We need something fresh, clean, and minty with happiness to clear the air of the smell of corruption and hair spray. Behold, my friends, as a one-armed veteran makes a kid’s day.