Not even Blago the Delusional can spin this verdict
By RICHARD ROEPER firstname.lastname@example.org June 27, 2011 2:46PM
Updated: October 1, 2011 12:37AM
He started the day quoting Elvis and ended it a defeated man.
The verdicts of “guilty” on count after count came in faster than you could Tweet, “This is a REALLY bad day for Blago.”
Just moments after Rod Blagojevich worked the crowd one last time before heading into the courtroom to meet his fate, he heard it over and over and over again: “Guilty, guilty, guilty, guilty, guilty...”
When the one verdict of “not guilty” was read, you half-expected Blagojevich to stand up and declare, “VINDICATION!”
But not even one of the most delusional public officials ever could tell himself Monday’s verdicts were anything but utter complete disaster. Facing a maximum of 300 years in prison, he’s looking at eight, 10, maybe even 12 actual years of incarceration.
No matter what you think of Blagojevich the carnival barker, Blagojevich the impeached governor, Blagojevich the multiple convicted felon, there’s also Rod Blagojevich the family man — and by the time he gets out of prison, he’ll be in his mid- to late-60s and his daughters will be grown up. He will miss much of their lives.
The bizarre saga of Rod Blagojevich
One day you’re the governor Illinois, the next thing you know your wife is on national TV eating a tarantula.
Such was the bizarre saga of Rod Blagojevich, former rising star, former governor of Illinois, former contestant on “Celebrity Apprentice,” longtime source of material for every talk show host and media pundit across the country.
Chicago had its very own “white Bronco” moment on Monday afternoon, with television news helicopters providing live shots of Blago’s vehicle as he made his way to the courthouse. If only he’d made a run for it!
But no, the Beatle-haired ex-gov dutifully showed up for the verdict, pausing outside the building to pose for a photo with a Drew Peterson look-alike and to sign an autograph or two. Only Blago could work the crowd like an actor pre-Letterman taping when his very future was hanging in the balance.
So after all the audio tape f-bombs and the “effin’ golden” quote, after the talk show appearances and the reality show goofiness, after all the hair jokes and Elvis references, after all the self-aggrandizing quotes of Kipling and Shakespeare, after an impeachment and two trials, it comes down to this:
Rod Blagojevich cared a thousand times more about himself than he did about the people of Illinois.
He betrayed the voters, torpedoed his career, turned his legacy into a punchline, put his family through hell-in-a-spotlight and wound up a convicted felon.
Because being governor wasn’t good enough. Because he was in desperate need of cash. Because he thought he could cash in on a Senate seat.
Because he had sometimes insanely bizarre visions of Oprah as a senator, himself with a Cabinet post.
Because he’s a narcissist who believes he was a great governor and did nothing wrong and was railroaded.
After the first trial, Blagojevich tried to declare a victory of sorts because the jury was hung on so many counts. He ignored that he was one juror away from multiple convictions — and that he was indeed convicted on one felony count and would be facing a five-year sentence regardless of what happened in Blago 2.
This time around, not even Blagojevich put a positive spin on things. When he got home, he worked the crowd a bit, talked briefly to the press and did the “Evita” thing one last time on his front porch, blowing kisses and reaching down to clasp hands — but once he was inside his home and the door was closed, just imagine the despair that must have enveloped the man.
Was justice served on Monday? We have to respect the jury’s decision. But personally, I wouldn’t have cared if Blagojevich had just started serving time for the one felony conviction from the first trial and we hadn’t even gone through Blago 2.
The man was already a national punchline. He’s been removed from office. He’s beyond broke. The tapes revealing him as a selfish vulgarian have been played endlessly. If the Blago 2 jury had found him not guilty on every count, he still wouldn’t have been vindicated. He’d have been a convicted felon and a disgraced ex-governor.
Now he’s looking at a life in prison that could extend until past 2020.
For a man who likes to quote from famous tragedies, he’s truly living one now.